I am writing this letter of support for the Voices of the Koas Program of the White Pine Association. I am very familiar with their work, having attended both their practice sessions and their performances at various venues throughout New England, including Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. In addition, I have filmed some of their excellent performances and have made them into DVDs to use in my teaching and public presentations. These DVDs have been very well received by K-12 students from third grade up; my college classes, as well as public presentations from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (Vergennes, VT) to the ECHO Lake Aquarium (Burlington, VT) to the Waponahki Museum in Eastport, Maine. I am very excited about the artistic and technical progress of the Voices… women singers in such a short time, and expect great things from them. In a larger context, the Voices of the Koas is absolutely critical for the continuation of Abenaki culture in the United States.
Director, The Seeds of Renewal Project
My name is Sheila Moran and I am President of the Revels North Board of Directors. We have been following, with astonishment and pride, the progress of our Revels Kids community these past weeks. And we are SO grateful to you and the other VOICES singers for your central part in this year’s season. In fact, the most powerful element about your participation is that it will not be just a “season” for our Revels Kids, their parents, teachers AND board, but a life-changing experience. Words can hardly express what this transformative dimension means to an organization that is dedicated to the teaching and appreciation of the traditional arts.
I am writing this letter to express my support for the excellent work done by the Voices of the Koas. I am a Program Coordinator and site teacher for Revels Kids, an after-school program in Vermont and New Hampshire which exposes elementary school children to different cultures through song, dance, stories and art. Our classes run once a week from the end of January to the end of March and include some weekend enrichment activities. Each year, our program focuses on a specific culture. This year, we have been very fortunate to be working with the Voices of the Koas to explore Abenaki culture.
Every fall, our staff goes through the process of finding inspiring tradition bearers to train our teachers and work with the students in our program. When we began to explore the possibility of focusing on Abenaki traditions, we researched local Abenaki artists and were very excited to find the Voices of the Koas. Their singing group not only produces beautiful music; they also have experience working directly with children and reaching out to educate local people about native culture.
The Voices of the Koas have been guest artists at several local schools and have developed a musical repertoire which engages students by including movement and participation. When we expressed an interest in working with them, two members of the group conducted a three-hour teacher training for our program staff. Our staff learned songs, dances and games to share with the students, and gained a better understanding of Abenaki culture and history.
Members of the Voices of the Koas are visiting Revels Kids program sites, assisting with our weekend Immersion Day, and participating in a final presentation with the students. I am happy to endorse their group as an excellent model of how community-based multicultural education can be implemented.
–Abigail Fleming, Program Manager and Teacher for Revels Kids!