Beginning with an Abenaki feast song by Paul and Denise Pouliot, of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People, our latest Lunch and Learn focused on indigenous foods and resources… was an immersive beginning to a fascinating lecture! These two work to provide educational resources and various historical and indigenous cultural programs. They offer several different presentations in an effort to increase awareness and knowledge of their culture. At our Lunch & Learn event, those who attended learned all about the Indigenous foods and resources utilized by the Abenaki in New England.
The Abenaki were highly skilled as fishermen, hunters and gatherers. White tailed deer, moose, elk, and bear were some of the most commonly hunted large animals. The Abenaki would harvest the meat and utilize the remaining parts of the animal for many different things. Moose hides could be used to make moccasins, and fat reserves from a large bear could be turned into oil and used all year long. The Abenaki were also very skilled fisherman, and several fish species such as bass, herring, smelt and trout could be found and fished for in nearby rivers, streams and lakes, and were a large part of their diet.
Living in rhythm with the seasons helped the Abenaki People determine when to harvest and plant different food items. Nuts, seeds, fruits, berries and even maple sap were collected during the appropriate times of year. Corn, beans and squash were referred to as the “Three Sisters” because they were planted and grown together. Many of the foods harvested were cooked over open flame fires and preserved through smoking. A Wabenaki food year calendar has been created (see picture) to represent these different cycles of eating.
Paul and Denise brought in different tools and artifacts to demonstrate some ways the Abenaki People hunted and fished. One of the tools featured was a weighted net that could be used to place across streams and catch salmon. These nets could be modified to change the size of the netting holes, depending on the species of fish targeted. They also brought a large pestle to demonstrate how the Abenaki used mortar and pestle tools to grind fruits, nuts and berries into a trail-mix type food known as pemmican.
If you are interested in learning more about the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook, their programs or Indigenous foods please visit