Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of Sovereign Abenaki Nation
Our Mission Statement
The Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, 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 contemporary 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.
Our long journey from ancient times to the present has left the Ko'asek 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 our native culture, social practices, and spiritual beliefs.
The name Ko'asek has evolved through many unions with other clans and tribes, such as the Nolka, Cowasuck of the Coos, Cowasuck of North America, Cowasuck, and Ko'asek 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.
On June 13, 1704, Abenaki at Cowasuck refuses the offer of Governor Vaudreuil to resettle in the St. Lawrence Valley under the 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. This 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, at 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 holding 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 1970s 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), became Clan Chief in the spring of 1947, and Abenaki people in the Coos/Koas started to form into organized groups.
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 today as the Ko'asek (Co'wasuck)Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, and we endured several splits that led to splinter groups up until Chief Knight’s permanent retirement in April 2006 due to a stroke, and later a few more attempts which made us much stronger.
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.
Abenaki engaged in Maple Sugaring, from PJ Lafitau, Moeurs de Sauvages Americains, 1724. Courtesy of Special Collections Bailey /Howe Library, University of Vermont
Chief List Based On All Koasek Tribal Family Members
The following is a list of over 477+ years of Tribal Chiefs and Famous Natives of the Koasek (Cowasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, Tribal Family Members. (Note: If you do not see your Famous or Chief/Sagamo/s8gem8 listed here please contact Chief Paul at Bunnellloyalist@aol.com)
Following is a list of Tribal Chiefs of the Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki National that evolved under several names through the years.