Nebizun: Water is Life

painting of wildlife that need water to survive
Artwork: Water is Life by Francine Poitras Jones. Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe.

Nebizun (alternately spelled Nebizon) is the Abenaki word for medicine and the root word Nebi is the Abenaki word for water. The rivers and tributaries of N’Dakinna (our homeland) were our highways for traveling and the water itself is important to the species of fish and other wildlife that is necessary to our way of life. As stewards of the environment, Native American people know the importance of having clean water. The Abenaki people know and understand the importance of water in everyday activities related to foodways and healing powers of water. Nebizun: Water is Life draws its inspiration from Native American Grandmothers who have been doing water walks to pray for the water and the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Read the longer Curatorial Essay

This exhibit is presented in partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center.

We wish to acknowledge the scholars and culture bearers whose contributions informed present and prior versions of this exhibition: Chief Nancy Milette Doucet (Koasek), Robert Goodby, Ph.D. (Archeologist), Sherry Gould (Nulhegan), Rose Hartwell (Elnu), Rich Holschuh (Elnu), Rick Hunt, Melody Makin (Elnu), Norm M’Sadoques (Elnu), Jess Robinson, Ph.D. (Vermont State Archeologist), Jim Taylor (Elnu), and Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D. (Missisquoi).

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE 2022 through 2024*

*To request more details about the exhibit or to schedule the exhibition at your venue, email


  • January to April 2024 – Bixby Memorial Library, Vergennes, VT.
  • May 1 to October 15, 2024 – Ethan Allen Homestead, Burlington, Vermont


  • April 1 to July 2023 – Bennington, Museum, Bennington, VT
  • July 22 to October 15, 2023 – Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner, NH.
  • September to December 2023 – University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, VT.
  • November 2023 to Spring 2024 – Bixby Memorial Library, Vergennes, VT.


  • May 15 to October 15, 2022 – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT.
  • June 18 to October 15, 2022 – Brattleboro Museum of Arts & Culture, Brattleboro, VT..
  • November 19 to mid-March 2023 – Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT.




  • June 18, Saturday, 5 p.m. — Opening Celebration of Summer Exhibits
  • June 18 & 19, 2:00 p.m. — Gallery Talk, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
  • June 24, Friday, 7 p.m. — Nebizun Celebration & Curator Talk
  • July 29, Friday, 10am to 2:00pm Abenaki Free Arts, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
  • August 3, Wednesday, 10:00am – Virtual Abenaki Free Arts for Little Ones. On Zoom. Registration required.
  • August 3, Wednesday, 3:00pm – Virtual Abenaki Free Arts for Little Ones. On Zoom. Registration required.
  • August 6, 11:00am-3:00pm — Water is Life: Abenaki Free Arts, Brattleboro Museum of Art & Culture.
  • August 11, Thursday, 7 p.m. — Abenaki Cuisine Demo: Chef Jessee Lawyer




Charlie Adams (Elnu), Vicki Blanchard (Nulhegan), Joe Bruchac (Nulhegan), Bill Gould (Nulhegan), Francine Poitras Jones (Nulhegan), Jeanne Morningstar Kent (Nulhegan), Melody Walker Makin (Elnu), Lucy Cannon Neel (Nulhegan), Hawk Schulmeisters (Elnu), Breanna Sheehan (Elnu), Linda Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), JES (Elnu), Chief April St Francis Rushlow (Missisquoi), Dorothy Tondreau (Elnu), Amy Hook-Therrien (Koasek), and Aaron York (Missisquoi).

Special thanks to Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D. for the usage of his family’s fishing equipment.

Thank you to our partners and supporters!