1940 to Today
Date of Birth01/28/1983
Melody Walker was born in 1983 and grew up in Highgate, Vermont. She attended the University of Vermont, and works on the service team at the UVM Department of Student Life.
Growing up in northwestern Vermont, Walker found her Abenaki heritage to be central to her identity. Her mother, and close Abenaki friends, helped her maintain that identity. Walker has found that her efforts and successes reflect upon her Abenaki community and communal heritage.
While attending the University of Vermont, Walker focused a significant portion of time and research, both personally and academically, on Abenaki and Native American history and culture. In 2006, Walker participated in Dr. Frederick Wiseman's film, "1609: The Other Side of History," which presents the French discovery of Lake Champlain from a native perspective. During the filming, Walker met her partner, Walker Brook, and grew closer to many cousins and others involved in the Elnu Abenaki Tribe. Walker soon became a citizen of the Elnu Tribe.
Based in southern Vermont, the Elnu Abenaki Tribe works to further and maintain their cultural heritage through research, education, singing, dancing, storytelling, and traditional crafts. The tribe emphasizes teaching and learning about aspects of Wabanaki culture, and practicing traditional crafts such as Quillwork, stone carving, Wampum, and sewing. Elnu members also participate in many events of the Woodland Confederacy, a living history organization dedicated to representing Eastern Woodlands cultures. Walker and other Elnu members participate in living history demonstrations throughout the northeast.
For Walker, her involvement with Elnu granted her access to a wealth of information about the lifestyle, spiritual practices, clothing, crafts, and other aspects of her Abenaki heritage, which Elnu and Woodland Confederacy members had researched over the past twenty years. This new access to her heritage filled a huge void in Walker's identity and everyday life.
Melody Walker is active as an Abenaki activist and educator, by teaching in elementary to college level classrooms, coordinating events, working with museums and community organizations, and connecting with other Native peoples. She also participates in living history demonstrations, is a traditional finger weaver and beadworker, and interprets wampum belts.
Walker also participated on the Vermont Women's History Project Steering Committee, Waolowzi Native American Youth Health and Wellness Program Steering Committee, Ndakinna Cultural Center and Museum's Board of Directors, and the Vermont Native American Quadricentennial Committee.
Walker sees her role as one of many people who are representing and maintaining their heritage in a supportive and collaborative Abenaki community. She finds great satisfaction in that she has been able to move from seeking out her culture, to being able to demonstrate and pass on Abenaki culture and traditional skills to others.
In 2009, she was recognized as part of Vermont's Champlain Quadricentennial celebration.
Organizations or Movements
- ELNU Abenaki Tribe
- Ndakinna Cultural Center Board of Directors
- Vermont Native American Quadricentennial Committee
- Women's History Project Steering Committee
- Waolowzi Native American Youth Health and Wellness Program Steering Committee
- Living history volunteer
- graduate school