UNH collective continues support for local Indigenous communities


Courtesy of UNH.

Aleksandra Bedard, Staff Writer

DURHAM, NH- It’s almost December, which means Native American Heritage month at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is coming to an end. Though the university took steps to acknowledge Durham’s Abenaki heritage this fall, the administration plans to continue collaborations with the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective (INHCC) and the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People. In addition to  marking the Abenaki trails at the start of the school year, students can expect to see an Indigenous garden and a wigwam on campus this spring.

INHCC, a collective founded in 2016, is a collaboration between UNH administration, undergraduate students and the Cowasuck Band of the Penacook-Abenaki People. Administrators behind the collaboration say they aim to reframe elements of New Hampshire’s history, highlighting Indigenous influence. This year, the UNH Center for Humanities received a grant from the American Council for Learned Societies on behalf of INHCC, enabling them to create the garden and wigwam.

Isabel Cole, a member of INHCC and the president of UNH’s Organic Gardening Club, explained the process. 

By working with Paul and Denise Pouliot, the head speakers for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People, they’ve planned for a traditional Abenaki Three Sisters garden consisting of corn, beans and squash, as well as educational programs for next fall once the plants grow. Denise Pouliot hopes the program will increase students’ awareness of the Indigenous heritage behind the land.

“Land acknowledgements are only a start to try and decolonize the areas we’re on,” she explained. “Most students that I know don’t know who’s land we’re on.”

Similarly, the staff at UNH are hopeful about the project. Alexandra Martin, an anthropology professor and coordinator for the Native American Indigenous Studies minor, has worked with INHCC on the upcoming projects. In addition to the Indigenous garden, they have worked on educational programs with local historical societies and highway markers signifying Indigenous heritage in Portsmouth and Dover, both set to roll out sometime in the next year.

Martin hopes the programs will enrich the public’s education on Indigenous history by dispelling some of the misconceptions they may have. She emphasized that the projects are meant to blend into students’ lives and the landscape of UNH, as well as demonstrate the scientific backing behind Indigenous practices.

“There’s such a deep history before European contact,” she explained. “Part of the Indigenous worldview is a deep, scientific understanding of the universe.”

Though she’s eager for the upcoming projects, Martin has a simple goal:

“To try to share some information, remind people that this landscape has an indigenous heritage, past and present, and get people interested in talking.”