Our Mission Statement
The Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, New England & Eastern Canada, is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of our Native culture in our traditional ways regarding our ancient territory.
Through partnership and cooperation with other Native people, we strive to unite within the Wabanaki Confederacy in peace and harmony. We strive to educate our members in our ancient ways and customs while incorporating these tools in our contemmporary Native life today. Priority is given to respect, honor and peace between our Abenaki cousins and humanity while protecting the earth and all living things.
Expanding On Our Mission Statement
Our long journey from ancient times to the present has left the Koasek peoples stronger and wiser, having withstood the test of time. Our self-determination to maintain and preserve our tribal family relationships has reached far and wide, helping to pass on the courage to stand up to persecution, sterilization and attempted extermination. Today we stand stronger than ever in our determination to preserve out native culture, social practices and spiritual beliefs.
The name Koasek has evolved through many unions with other clans and tribes, such as the Nolka, Cowasuck of the Coos, Cowasuck of North America, Cowasuck, and Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation. These unions have resulted in adding the word “Nation” to our name due to the coming together of so many proud Native People over time. Our well documented history exceeds 180 years and includes 15 recorded chiefs, beginning in 1832, to the present. Our mission today centers around the revival of missing pieces of our culture that were hidden and nearly lost due to fear of subversion by the white man. Of most importance, is our spiritual presence and allegiance to our tribe and homeland and to preserve and propagate the use of our native Abenaki Language, ancient stories, music and our dances. We recognize that educating our young people in these practices is core to our mission
People Of The Dawnland
The Abenakiak (People of the Dawnland), variously spelled throughout history as Abenaki, Abnaki, Abenaquis, Wabenaki, Wabanaki etc., have called Ndakinna home for thousands of years. We called ourselves Aln8bak, human beings. The Abenaki territory roughly spanned north into southern Quebec, over to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and South into Northern Massachusetts.
At the time of contact, there were numerous Abenaki bands throughout the states of VT, NH, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They were semi nomadic within their boundaries, moving as the seasons changed and following the game animals and fish runs, such as the great salmon runs. Historically, the Abenaki from all over, gathered each year for planting season in the meadows of Koas, now known as Newbury VT and Haverhill NH; then at the end of the season, re-dispersed back throughout N’dakinna.
Who We Are
Even after the arrival of Europeans, there was not a lot known about our nation, due to most of them living inland and most settlers at the time considered our homeland a “savage wilderness”.
The first written information about Koasek appears to be in June 1704 when a party led by Caleb Lyman of North Hampton MA and five Mohegans, attacked the village of Cowasuck-Koasek (now Newbury VT) and killed 8 Abenaki.
In June 13, 1704, Abenaki at Cowasuck refuse offer of Governor Vaudreuil to resettle in the St. Lawrence Valley under protection of the French. His speech was as follows:
Father, to tell the truth you have shown great care for me in inviting me to come and settle on your lands. However, I cannot bring myself to come there because the English have already struck me too hard. I believe, therefore, that the only place where I can strike back against the English is the place I come from, which is called Cowasuck. I could not do that easily if I was in your country. (Presented a wampum belt.) Father, hear me, I wish to remain at Cowasuck
It is true you have acted well in offering me a fort on your lands, and that would have been good if we had been at peace as we used to be, and we could have done it easily. But hear me, I am a warrior. I offer you my village which is like a fort thrust towards the enemy, so that your lands on this side can be protected, and so that you can think of me as my child who is at Cowasuck to carry on the war and protect me, serving as a palisade against my enemies
National Archives of Canada, MG1 F3, vol 2:407-10
In April 1712 Captain Thomas Baker and his men attacked a camp of 11 Koasek and Pennacook families at the confluence of the Pemigewasset river and Baker river. In January 1753 a delegation of 6 Abenakis was sent to Fort #4 under a flag of truce to show that they were displeased that the English were attempting to settle at the meadows of Koas. In 1764, Antiwaneto (Abenaki) gives the following speech to the Massachusetts governor in Boston regarding the taking of Native lands:
We hear on all sides that [we] … are bad people. Tis in vain that we are taxed with a bad heart. It is you … that always attack us; your mouth is of sugar, but your heart of gall. In truth, in the moment you begin we are on our guard … We have not yet sold the lands we inhabit, we wish to keep possession of them … We acknowledge no other boundaries of yours than your settlements whereon you have built, and we will not, under any pretext whatsoever let you pass beyond them. The lands we possess have been given us by the Master of Life. We acknowledge to hold only from him. We are entirely free
“We Hear on All Sides,”in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York, vol. 0, ed., E.B. O’Callaghan (Albany: Weed, Parsons, 1858), 252-254.
From this point forward the Abenakis remain relatively silent out of fear up until the 1970’s when the Red Pride movement began behind the actions of the American Indian Movement.
Through the years, Nation Elders kept the culture strong, teaching us the tradition of fishing, how to grow our traditional tobacco, corn, beans and squash known as the 3 sisters. Growing up we still remember we ate venison, succotash, fiddleheads, and turtle soup on a regular basis.
During their time, our Elders faced much discrimination from the Eugenics to the KKK, as well as alcoholism. During all of that, we held on to as much of the culture as we could, keeping social contact with other Indians and Nations, but for the most part staying together as family clans.
Chief Elwin “Joe” Pero of the Nolka (Deer)Clan, chosen as Chief in the spring of 1947, was the first to organize Abenaki people in the Coos/Koas area under his leadership and the leadership of council members such as E. Paige, R. Pero, A. Pero and Associate Chief M. Stone.
In 1980, the Tolba (Turtle) Clan and the Knight family joined the other clan (Nolka, Awasoos, Mols8m and others) of the Coos Band, and Howard F. Knight was elected as Associate Chief in December 1980. Then in April 1981, the Coos Band under Chief Joe Pero and Associate Chief Howard F. Knight Jr. merged with the Eastern Woodlands Band under Chief Richard Phillips and Associate Chief Emerson Garfield to form the Northeast Woodlands-Coos Band. In 1985, following the passing of Chief Joe Pero in 1983 and the stepping down of Chief Richard Phillips, Howard F. Knight Jr. became Chief of the Northeast Woodlands-Coos Band.
Since that time, the Koasek Band has undergone various name changes, such as the Northern New England-Coos Band, Independent Clans of the Coos United, Cowasuck of North America, Cowasuck-Horicon Traditional Band and Koasek Traditional Band and endured several splits that led to splinter groups up until Chief Knight’s permanent retirement in April 2006 due to a stroke.
However, a name does not make a band/nation; it is the people, families and clans that make up a nation and provide its continuity.