Jesse Bowman Bruchac is a Nulhegan Abenaki Citizen. As one of the last fluent speakers of Western Abenaki he works vigorously to revitalize the language and many other related Eastern Algonquian languages, a family of languages that include dialects once spoken by Pocahontas and Squanto. He works as co-director of his family run education center Ndakinna, where he teaches Native American Life Ways and the Abenaki language.

Above: Jesse, linguist Conor Quinn, Abenaki, Penobscot, Maleseet, Passamaquoddy, and Micmac speakers at a Wabanaki language gathering on Indian Island Maine.

In ongoing efforts to make the language more accessible, he created the free language teaching website WesternAbenaki.com, the YouTube Channel, and helps facilitate the Facebook Group. He has also written and published several bilingual books, and recordings in the language. He has lectured at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, and is currently co-teaching (alongside Conor Quinn) a Wabanaki Language course at the University of Southern Maine.

Jesse also works as a composer, cultural consultant, translator, and language coach in film and television.

On the set in South Africa between takes with actor Tatanka Means.

As a musician and traditional Abenaki storyteller Jesse has performed at hundreds of schools across the country and at major festivals around the world. Opening for such notable acts as The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Woodstock ’94. He won Best Storyteller Competition at Indian Summer in Milwaukee in 1995. In 1996 he toured Europe as a member of the Abenaki Drum from the Odanak reservation in Quebec. He is also a member of the Vermont Abenaki Artist Association whose mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists. For more information on booking him for a school visit, or performance follow this link

Jesse Bruchac performing at the Ganondagan Historic Site with his father Joseph Bruchac.

Jesse began learning the Abenaki language, songs and stories as a child from his father Joseph Bruchac. He first heard the language spoken fluently by the Abenaki elders his father would visit while learning traditional Abenaki stories. He began studying the language in earnest at the age of 20 from Cecile Wawanolette in 1992. He studied with her and dozens of other speakers at the Abenaki reservation of Odanak, Quebec for over a decade. He has continued to learn and teach the language with Cecile’s son Joseph Elie Joubert.

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