Humanities Department News

Spring 2012

As part of the Lake Champlain Basin Program 2012
speaker series, Professor Fred Wiseman gave a
talk in Grand Isle on a "Lake Champlain Indigenous
Heritage Center: A Future Possibility." He is exploring the
feasibility of an indigenous museum to house his collection
and serve as a gathering place for indigenous people.


Interviewed by WCAX for a segment on "Super Seniors,"
Professor Bill Doyle was featured on the Feb. 10 morning and evening newscasts. He was interviewed and filmed in his JSC office, in his classroom and at the Statehouse.

Fall 2011

JSC hosted the premiere screening of Life in Caledonia County, another entry in the county-by-county documentary series by Professor and Senator Bill Doyle (Humanities), JSC students in Professor Doyle’s "Vermont History and Government" class, and filmmaker Vince Franke. In addition, Doyle received a small grant from the Vermont Humanities Council for Life in Orange County.

Doyle's article, "Irene's Epic Flood," appeared in the Burlington Free Press (Sept. 4), and his historical piece, "A Tale of Two Floods," appeared in the Sept. 12 Times Argus.

Summer 2011

Professor Bill Doyle received the first U.S. Canada Leadership Award at a meeting of the Council of State Governments in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the 51st annual meeting of the Regional Policy Forum. He also was appointed an alternate member on the executive committee of the Council of State Governments' Eastern Regional Conference. His term runs until Jan. 1, 2013. The purpose of the executive committee is to provide general oversight of the policies, programs and budget of ERC and its staff, based in New York City. Finally, Doyle's "My Turn" column, on the contributions made by Vermonters in the fight for independence, was featured in the July 3 Burlington Free Press.

In August, Professor Fred Wiseman served as a consultant at the Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens at Boothbay, following the organization's completion of a multi-million dollar educational center. Wiseman was invited to advise on the planned indigenous agricultural experimental gardens and medicine gardens as well as on labeling local native uses. Closer to home, Wiseman was the only non-chief (other than the bill sponsors and the governor) to speak at the Vermont Indian Recognition bill-signing ceremony. He played a pivotal role in facilitating the writing of the original 2010 recognition bill and the two specific tribal 2011 recognition bills, and he helped both tribes prepare their documentation and navigate the recognition process. JSC students made the wampum belts, pouches and other materials that were exchanged at the ceremony.

Spring 2011

The latest video by Professor and Senator Bill Doyle and his students, Life in Caledonia County, received featured treatment in Danville's monthly North Star. Apparently the project also sparked one of the community’s high school teachers to begin documenting Danville’s oral histories.

Doyle's column in the January 11 Burlington Free Press identified 14 major issues for the 2011 Vermont Legislature. His May 17 piece in the Free Press summarized his reflections on the 2011 legislative session and included his list of work to be tackled next year. Finally, a detailed profile of Doyle's years of service to higher education and to Vermont state government appeared in the April issue of Vermont Business Magazine.

Instructor Cynthia West and husband Mark send “Namaste” — greetings — from Bayalpata in far western Nepal, where they are spending four months doing humanitarian aid work under the auspices of Nyaya Health, an organization that works toward health equity and access in rural Nepal.  They are in the Achham province volunteering at Bayalpata Hospital and the local school until mid-April. The hospital partners with the government to provide health care to the more than 200,000 people in the district.

In mid-April Cynthia wrote her final dispatch to the Hardwick Gazette from Bayalpata. As they entered the final phase of their stay, both worked hard to complete a number of projects. “There are just two more windows to clean,” Cynthia wrote. “We have improved the walkway and the landscaping around the staff residence and in the front of the hospital. We harvested cactus plants from the jungle and created a rock garden next to the home of the two doctors and the administrative staff. One of the most exciting projects has been to add artwork and decorations to some of the empty spaces in the new ‘soon to open’ three-ward hospital. In an effort to create more community outreach, we invited elementary school children (grades 3 to 5) to the hospital.”

On May 3 Professor Fred Wiseman appeared on a Vermont Public Radio program examining race as part of the station’s 2011 collaboration with the Vermont Humanities Council’s statewide “Vermont Reads” program. In April he received a pocket watch in Montpelier from the Abenaki tribe as a thank-you for his efforts against anti-Abenaki racism and in the service of the Vermont Abenaki community as both a scholar and an activist.

Fall 2010

Professor and Senator Bill Doyle, working with students in his Vermont History and Government Class, has produced his eighth and ninth county documentaries, “Life in Essex County” and “Life in Caledonia County.” Students plan the project, conduct the interviews and collaborate with videographer Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions to produce the films, which are provided free to libraries throughout the state. Previous films have aired on Vermont Public Television, shown at the Green Mountain Film Festival, and honored with an award from the Vermont Historical Society. Bill’s goal is to complete histories of all 14 Vermont counties — and now he has only five remaining.

Professor Fred Wiseman played a major role drafting the proclamation signed by Gov. Jim Douglas declaring November 2010 as Native American Heritage Month. Fred spoke at UVM November 15 on “Written out of history: A look at K-12 curriculum as it relates to indigenous cultures.” Wiseman gave the Nulhegan band of the Abenaki tribe a group of JSC-made historical reproductions in December. Nulhegan Chief Donald Stevens wrote to thank Fred for the gifts as well as for "everything you have done surrounding [government] recognition” of the Abenaki."

Fall 2009

Professor and Senator Bill Doyle participated in a U.S. legislative delegation visit to Prague, Czech Republic, and Berlin,Germany, in late September and early October. The visit, under the auspices of CSG International Programs and led by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, featured a meeting with President Klaus of the Czech Republic. Bill also co-chaired an August conference in Burlington on "Fiscal Crisis: Navigating the Turbulent Economy." The proceedings drew about 400 leaders from the U.S. and Canada for the Council of State Government's Eastern Regional annual conference.


Bill's video history of Vermont project continues on, as well. "Life in Grand Isle County," the fifth in the Vermont
County video project, premeired at the Grand Isle Lake House in July. The 30-minute documentary — an independent-study project of JSC student Kris Oechslin '09, working with Bill Doyle — played to a standing-room only crowd. Because of the large turnout, in fact, a second showing was scheduled immediately after the 7 p.m. event. And the sixth installment, "Life in Washington VCounty" premiered at JSC on December 8 and in Montpelier on December 10, 2009 to great acclaim.

For the third summer, instructor Cynthia West spent the warm weather months gleaning for Salvation Farms and the Vermont Foodbank. A picture of Cynthia hard at work adorns the cover of the 2008 Vermont Food Bank annual report.


Professor Frederick M. Wiseman has published two books regarding the European discovery of Lake Champlain: A Lake Between, a historical narrative of Samuel Champlain’s voyage from a native perspective; and Champlain Tech, which tells how the arms, armor, transportation and other early 17th century technologies used during Champlain’s voyage in large part determined the outcome of the battle with the Iroquois, thereby altering the course of history. Fred has finished work on a third book, Baseline 1609, due out in November, dealing with new archaeological and anthropological discoveries surrounding the early 17th century. He will be doing a series of book-signing tours around Vermont and eastern New York to promote the book series. In addition, as coordinator of the Vermont Indigenous Alliance, a coalition of the four main Vermont Abenaki bands representing thousands of enrolled native Vermonters, Professor Wiseman has been working with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) since May 2009 to demand that Sotheby's auction house in New York City return an Abenaki wampum belt and a Kahnesetake (Iroquois) wampum belt to their rightful owners. He has attended meetings in Quebec with Canadian Iroquois and Abenaki bands, and corresponded both with native advocates and with Sotheby's lawyers in an attempt to have the belts returned without legal action. He also has been working over the last few months with the Narragansett Nation in the protection of indigenous stone ruins in northern New England, one of which — the Calendar II site in Woodstock — is slated to become the second northestern indigenous stone structure on the national Register of Historic Places. At the request of Sen. Hinda Miller (D-Chittenden), Fred met in early September with a group of Vermont legislators and native advocates to arrive at mutually acceptable language for Vermont state legislation recognizing specific Vermont native bands for
the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of the Native American Arts and Crafts Act.


Professor Wiseman was one of two higher educators who served on the Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Commission over the late spring and summer. He was one of three coordinators of a national symposium on the native world of 1609, held at St. Michael's College in May; he coordinated the 1609 Native Encampment and Commemoration at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in June; and he worked with Vera Sheehan to coordinate the five-day Vermont Indigenous Celebration signature event held on the Burlington Waterfront in July. In addition, he participated in 15+ other events through the late spring and summer, including the St. Albans' French heritage signature event in June and the Appletree Point (north Burlington) Historical Society meeting in September, for which he was the keynote speaker.