By Charlie True (former Speaker for the Abenaki Nation of New Hampshire, deceased 2016)
I have frequently been asked what books are available on Abenaki history and culture, including the language. While we should remain focused on identifying and properly approaching those elders who have traditional knowledge that can be shared with us, and perhaps in time will have language classes with qualified instructors, the following will be helpful in providing general knowledge of our history/culture as well as good insight into the nature of the language. (Note since this was written years ago, Jesse Bruchac has stepped forward to teach the Abenaki language. Please refer to his website www.westernabenaki.com)
THE WESTERN ABENAKIS OF VERMONT, 1600-1800 by Colin G. Calloway. University of Oklahoma Press
This is currently the early history of the Abenaki people available in English. It is subtitled “War, Migration, And The Survival Of An Indian People”. In spite of the timeframe indicated in the title, a careful reading will help you understand the social “closeting” of Abenakis which persists, to a certain extent, to this day. The bibliography itself, in my opinion, is worth the price of the book, and reflects Calloway’s thorough research. The title, which implies that it is exclusively about Vermont Abenakis, is misleading. It covers the historical events that affected all Abenakis throughout our homelands.
THE ORIGINAL VERMONTERS by William A. Haviland and Marjory W. Power. University Press of New England
This is primarily an archeological and anthropological report. It brings together much cultural information based on the documented research of others.
WESTERN ABENAKI DICTIONARY by Gordon Day. Two volumes: Vol. 1 Abenaki-English; Vol. 2 English-Abenaki. Canadian Museum of Civilization publication.
This dictionary was compiled by Dr. Day during almost 30 years of field research among the Abenaki people. I urge anyone with a serious interest in the language to purchase the set; there is often more information available in Vol. 1 when you cross reference from the English-Abenaki volume. (Currently out of print)
FATHER AUBERY’S FRENCH ABENAKI DICTIONARY translated to English by Stephen Laurent. Published by Chisholm Brothers, Portland.
Father Aubery was a Jesuit who worked among the Abenaki at St. Francis (Odanak), Quebec for 46 years until his death in 1755. Stephen Laurent, the son of Chief Joseph Laurent, grew up at Odanak speaking Abenaki and French, and was a very knowledgeable and respected Abenaki elder living in New Hampshire. There is a tremendous amount of linguistic date buried within this dictionary; that is, words, phrases and sentences associated with the indexed words.
ABENAKI INDIAN LEGENDS, GRAMMAR AND PLACE NAMES by Henry Lorne Masta
Published in 1932 in Quebec, this is Abenaki grammar written by a former Odanak Chief and schoolmaster. As the title indicates, it includes other cultural information.
ABENAKI AND ENGLISH DIALOGUES by Joseph Laurent. Originally published in 1884 in Quebec
Joseph Laurent was, like Henry Masta, both a Chief and educator at Odanak. This book contains much more extensive grammatical information than the Masta book and the presentation is, in my opinion, more clear.