A moment in history

  1. Bill S.222 signed into law by Governor James Douglas May 14, 2010.

  2. Left to right: former Chief Luke Willard, the late Chief Nancy Millette, Senator Hinda Miller, Don Stevens and Charlie Delaney.

  3. Bill S.117 May 3, 2006: granting minority state recognition to the Abenaki People as a whole.

May 25, 2009
Great news ! Our corn has returned once again !
 Nathan E. Pero, Sub-Chief of the Nolka Clan, and a member of our Tribal Council, recently met with Charles Calley, from Newberry, Vt. 

Mr. Calley graciously accepted to give our band some Abenaki Corn seeds, a variety of corn which the Calleys have been growing for years. It will permit us to start growing our corn immediately, in order to have a good enough supply to share with our band members for next year crop.

Once again, our thanks to Charles Calley for his cooperation !

For more details, please visit:

Press Release
14 January 2009

To whom it may concern,

This letter is to inform you that former Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation Chief and Citizen Nancy Millette (a.k.a. Lyons and Cruger) is no longer a Chief, Representative or Citizen of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation.

Please keep this information in mind in any future dealings with Ms. Nancy Millette; please do not confuse her group with the original Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation.

Tribal Council
Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation
P.O. Box # 147
Post Mills, VT 05058

Sunday, May 18th, 2008
Sub-Chief Leo Wise Owl Decoteaux Laid to Rest
The Late Leo "Wiseowl" Decoteaux
Former Brigadier Gen. of the VT State Guard and

Sub-Chief of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

At 10 AM on May 15th, in conjunction with the Vermont National Guard Honor Guard, military ceremonies at the Vermont National Veterans Cemetery in Randolph Center, VT, for the burial services of 73 year old VT National Guard CSM Ret'd, Leo "Wiseowl" Decoteaux of Barnet, VT , who was also a Brigadier General in the Vermont State Guard, and a Sub-Chief of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation of Vermont, were conducted along with the ancient traditional Abenaki Honoring Ceremonies of Burial.

This is the 1st time in the history of the Vermont National Veterans Cemetery in Randolph Center, and possibly in any of the several states, in State run National Cemeteries in the United States, that the Military Honor Guard and any Native American Tribal group has ever cooperated and coordinated in such Honoring Ceremonies for deceased Native American Veterans during burial services in these said National Cemeteries.

CSM, USMC Ret'd McHugh, who is the Superintendent of the VT National Veterans Cemetery, was quite pleased with the way the two different ceremonies were done to honor a Native American especially here in Vermont, for a well known and highly respected Abenaki veteran. The Superintendent looks forward to future joint Honoring Ceremonies of Burial by the Vermont National Guard and the Vermont Abenaki, for Vermont's Native American and Abenaki veterans. The Vermont National Guard Honor Guard was under the watchful eye, caring care and command of the Cemetery Superintendent, USMC CSM Ret'd McHugh. The ancient Abenaki Honoring Ceremonies of Burial were conducted by Spiritual Elder and official Sacred Pipe Carrier of the Abenaki Nation, Burton DeCarr of the St Francis/Sokoki Band of Missisquoi in Swanton, VT Ret'd Chief Howard F Knight, a disabled Vietnam veteran and a member of the Koasek Traditional Band Council of Newbury, VT; and Clan Chief Eric Floyd of the Horicon-Cowasuck Nolka (Deer) Clan of the Abenaki Nation, a sub-band of the Koasek Traditional Band Council.  All of the participants of the Honoring Ceremonies, both from the VT National Guard's Honor Guard unit who did such a wonderful job at the burial service for our Sub-Chief, Leo "Wiseowl" Decoteaux, and those from the Abenaki Nation felt extremely honored to be a part of the 1st joint Military and Abenaki group burial ceremonies in honoring a highly respected and loved Native American Veteran of Vermont Abenaki ancestry in the Vermont State National Veterans Cemetery.


Abenakis Get National, Regional and Local Support

The Koasek Abenaki Tribe will host the second annual Nawihla Native American Festival at the VFW Field, North Haverhill, NH on May 31 and June 1, 2008. Drum groups and dancers will be coming in to perform from all over New England with a special performance by the Iroquois Traditional Singers and Dancers from New York.

Nawihla, an Abenaki word meaning " We are returning home", is a name chosen to honor the rich Abenaki history of the Meadows and the ancient Mission du Loup which was built to christianize the Abenaki of the Newbury and Haverhill area in 1685.

Nawihla Native American Festival will celebrate the history of the Koas Abenaki who lived in the meadows of Haverhill and Newbury for hundreds of years and still live today. The area which embraces the Connecticut River as well as the Ammonoosuc River was well known to Native People all over Canada, New York and New England. Native people would travel the rivers to visit and trade with the Koas Abenaki of the meadows. During the French Indian wars the well traveled route connecting the tribes of the south with the north was through the meadows on Haverhill and Newbury.

The history of the original people and the meadows has been over looked in recent years. It is an important part of the history of both the State of Vermont and the State of New Hampshire.

Nawihla has received financial help this year from New Hampshire Council on the Arts, the National Endowment on the Arts, Wal-Mart, Nookta Lodge and the All Seasons Motel, Beckett Academy, FarmWay Bradford, Wells River Savings Bank, NuNaturals, Kevin Fagnant Builders, Fennway Builders, Mashantucket Pequot Nation Graphics Department and Schemitzun committee, the Town of Haverhill and the VFW. "This event is a major undertaking," stated Koasek (Cowasuck) Tribal Council". "However, it is a wonderful celebration of art, dancing and music and gives us great pleasure to bring to the public a taste of our history and ancient cultural identities."

Nawihla will also host an 18th century living village where the public can take a walk through yester-year and experience the life-ways of 18th century Abenakis. In the 18th century, the Abenakis would trade many of their goods with ocean voyagers. Many things changed during that era and lodges were often times made from old torn ship sails made of canvas. Many of the lodges in the encampment will reflect that era as the Natives cook traditional food and demonstrate making of traditional crafts. Members of the living village will welcome questions and tell stories as visitors curiosity rises.

Special guest performance by the Aztec dancers of Mexico is scheduled for 2 PM both Sat and Sun. Special dancing and singing will take place throughout the two days with the Iroquois Traditional Singers and dancers. The public will be asked to participate!

Koasek Nawihla will be hosted May 31 and June 1 in North Haverhill, NH and the gates will open at 9 AM  Saturday May 31st untill 5 PM; and June 1st, from 10AM to 5 PM.  Grand Entry of all dancers entering the circle will begin at Noon each day.

The Aztec Dancers will perform approximately at 2 PM each day. The Festival Directors encourage people to bring lawn chairs. In the case of rain the gym of the North Haverhill Town Building located next to the VFW field will be used.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Special Announcement

What: Grandmother Doris 11th annual honoring
When: Being held May 10th 2008 begining at Noon.
Where: At end of Monument rd.
Who: Natives and Non Natives welcome

There will be a Feast following ceremony at Mary DeCarr's on Parsons Ave, St Albams Town.
POTLOCK ~ Please bring a dish to share.

Abenaki represented at the White House

Friday, December 14th, 2007
Monument has a place at White House
By Katie Winter of the Pipestone County Star

The work of a pipestone artist is hanging on the White House Christmas Tree.
Pauline Matthews designed an ornament representing the Pipestone National Monument as part of First Lady Laura Bush's choice of "Holiday in the National Parks" as the theme for this years Christmas tree. The tree is the centerpiece of the Blue Room and on it Matthews' ornament hangs with 346 others, uniquely designed to depict the essence of national park service sites across the U.S.

"I never imagined my work would be in the White House," Matthews said, "but I'm glad it is. It is an honor." The ornament, titled a "Prayer for Peace," features a depiction of the Sacred Pipe carved by American Indians from the red stone quarried on the Monument site as well as various symbols from Native tribes that stand for peace and spirituality. Matthews also mixed acrylic paints to match the red stone color for the ornament's background.

"The Pipestone National Monument is a spiritual place and a place of peace," Matthews said. "The Native Americans use the Sacred Pipe for ceremonial purposes and to send their prayers to the Great Spirit. In the past Indians from warring tribes worked together in peace to get the sacred red stone. Now all races need to come together in peace for the purpose of creating a healthier and more spiritual new world in which to live." Matthews, a descendant of the Cowasuck Band of the Abenaki Nation, used the ornament as an opportunity to honor her heritage, her craft and her love of the Monument.

Pauline Matthews - Citizen of the Koasek Band

“This kind of culminated all my journeys so far in this one 18 inch” Matthews said. “A lot of my passions are here, from the Monument to my Native American spirituality to my art work.” Matthews spent four days actually painting the spherical ornament and a couple of weeks planning and researching the symbols and design. She poured through reference books and scoured the Internet for the right symbols to convey her message. In the end, she settled on symbols that were close in meaning and then painted them according to her interpretation of them. “A lot of it holds true to the symbols that Native American actually used,” Matthews said, “but I’m saying it’s my own interpretation because various tribes have various interpretations of these symbols.”

One side of the ornament is divided into three circles, each with their own symbols. The smallest inner circle represents the “Circle of Spirituality” and features four drawings. They are “The Tree of Life,” “The Water,” “The Sunrise” and an Algonquin curve design. “The Tree of Life represents that we are all connected as one and rooted to Mother Earth,” Matthews said. “The Water represents the rivers and oceans that connect all nations. The Sunrise represents new beginnings and inner light as well as the Abenaki Nation, or ‘People of the Dawn land.’ The Algonquin curve design represents the medicinal herbs that various tribes used at the Pipestone National Monument.” The figures and colors of the middle circle represent the Circle of Life. Matthews used images associated with humanity, spirituality and creation. The outer circle features crossed arrows, which stand for friendship, a dragonfly that symbolizes peace and renewal and a morning star, a sign of purity of spirit and courage.

Matthews was selected by Superintendent Jim LaRock to represent the Pipestone National Monument in this national project. “Matthews created an outstanding ornament design that symbolized the pipestone quarries and the spiritual significance of the pipe to American Indians,” LaRock said in a National Park Service news release. “Her ability to capture these qualities comes from her understanding and deep feelings for the quarries and the role they play in American Indian culture.”

The ornament will not be returned to the Matthews, instead it will be put into the National Archives along with the 346 others representing the country’s 391 National Park Service sites. “The ornaments tell the stories of our parks,” said National Park Service Director Mary Bomar, “just as our parks tell the stories of our nation.”

Matthews wants those stories to include the Abenaki people, who are not yet federally recognized. “This was also my way of making the statement. “We have not disappeared. We are still here,” Mathews said. “I thought this would be a good way to have the Abenaki represented.”

Friday, September 21st, 2007
Chief Nancy Millette steps down as Co-Chief of the Koasek (Cowasuck)Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Nawihla Festival
The Koasek Abenaki Nation will host it’s first Native American Festival and Pow Wow on June 2 and 3, 2007 at the Woodsville Community Field, Woodsville, NH. The schedule includes over 30 arts and crafts venders, four drum groups, December Wind Native Folk Rock Band on Saturday night. A detailed time schedule will be available to the public in advance of the Pow wow.

The Native American Pow wow has been named Nawihla which in Abenaki means“ I am returning home”. Haverhill and Newbury meadows have historically been the center of commerce for the Koasek Abenaki until the contact era. Back in historic times many other tribal nations would come to the meadows to trade with Abenaki by way of the Long River ( the Connecticut River). Nawihla will be a huge celebration welcoming the Abenaki and other Native People back home.

To bring back a glimpse of what life was like for the Abenaki in the meadows,  a historic village will be set up complete with blanket trading and craft making demonstrations through out the weekend. The public will be welcome to visit the village and ask questions and even purchase some of the hand tooled items on the trade blankets.

Nawihla organizers have been working in partnership with other area business for the Native American event. Haverhill Alumni Hall will host a lecture with Trudy Ann Parker on May 30th. Trudy Ann Parker (Abenaki) is the author of Aunt Sarah, Woman of the Dawnland and Big Snow Little Snow. Aunt Sarah is a book about Trudy’s Aunt who lived to be 108 winters. Big Snow Little Snow is based on the logging day of the Connecticut River. On May 31st Joseph Firecrow, Northern Cheyenne Granny Nominee will perform a music concert at Alumni Hall.

Other events have also been scheduled and will be sponsored by the Town of Haverhill, Nootka Lodge, Woodsville Guaranty Bank and the Koasek (Cowasuck) Abenaki Tribal Band.

Abenaki seek to buy Old Schoolhouse
in Wells River for Cultural Center

Published September 14, 2006
By Peter Jamison
Valley News Staff Writer
Wells River, Vt.

Four months after Vermont's government recognized their existence, the Abenaki Indians aren't asking for a stirring landscape in order to rebuild their culture. Other tribes have land grants in the high desert of Arizona or the rolling forests of upstate New York. What the Upper Valley's Abenaki want is a squat brick building -- one on which they say their survival as a people depends.

The Abenaki Nation's Cowasuck band, which farmed the fertile flats along the Connecticut River before the arrival of European settlers, is trying to raise money to buy the Old Village Schoolhouse on Route 5 in Wells River, in the town of Newbury, Vt. The aim is to renovate the building, now used for apartments and office space, and use it as an Abenaki cultural academy.

The Abenaki, unlike their neighbors, the Iroquois, were never given a reservation, and as a result have been blending for centuries into the dominant European-American culture of Northern New England. This assimilation had a cost. Today, Abenakis are scattered across Vermont, New Hampshire, northwestern Massachusetts, part of New York and parts of Canada. Without a physical nucleus, the band says, their customs and language are being lost. [...]

The Abenaki fight to preserve a coherent cultural identity got a boost in May, when Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas signed into law a bill that recognized the tribe. As a result of recognition, Abenakis may claim minority status in job and college applications, seek grants available to American Indians and eventually sell crafts and artwork with a special label. But the state hasn't yet decided what criteria a person must meet to be counted a citizen of a band. [...]

Charlie and Sarah Calley of Newbury own the schoolhouse, which they have offered to sell for $289,000. By coincidence, the Calleys inherited a strain of finger-sized sweet corn from the late Carroll Greene, a farmer in Deering, N.H. Greene's ancestors had been among the first English settlers in the Upper Valley, and were given corn seeds by the Abenaki in the 18th century, the Calleys said. Yesterday, in a small ceremony that seemed geared toward the half-dozen photographers and reporters present, the Calleys gifted the Cowasuck tribal council with a handful of the corn, which can be used as seed for a new crop.

Band Citizen Mike Fenn said he plans to plant some of those seeds on the 17 acres he just bought across the Connecticut River in North Haverhill. Fenn said he knew he had Indian heritage growing up, but didn't begin to learn about his ancestors' culture until he attended the University of New Hampshire, where he took courses on American Indian history. Recently, he got back in touch with Millette, an old family friend, who is helping him reconstruct the remains of a fragile Abenaki past. “I have Scottish in my blood, but I've always felt the Indian side more,” Fenn said. “Now I'm looking forward to bringing it out.”

Koasek Abenaki Receive Gift
By Jacob L. Grant, Staff Writer
The Caledonian Record - Wells River,VT

Sarah Calley gifts corn to Chief Nancy Millette

They've been called the "original Vermonters." They are a tribe that was here well before the first settlers. And in the next few generations the last vestiges of their nation could become extinct. There are some within the nation who have been working to preserve their ways and traditions and on Wednesday, a little more hope was granted.

At the Old School House in Wells River, the Koasek Abenaki nation accepted the return of the corn seeds of their ancestors and took another step toward acquiring the schoolhouse for their planned White Pine Cultural  Center. Plans for the center - which comes under their nonprofit White Pine Association - include cultural exchange programs, historic preservation and language preservation. "We only have a few left who can speak the original language," said Chief Nancy Millette. "I expect it will be extinct in the next generation, maybe two, if we don't start preserving it now." Lyons (Millette) is leading the way to secure money through grants, donations and fund-raisers to buy the building from Charlie and Sarah Calley of Newbury, who said the building is being used for office space and apartments. Negotiations are taking place now, the Calleys said. "We can't imagine better stewards for this building," said Sarah Calley during a short ceremony in front of the schoolhouse Wednesday afternoon.

The big focus of the day though was the return of the Abenaki corn seeds, which have been out of the hands of the original people for about 300 years. Though it may seem like a small gesture on behalf of the Calleys, it meant a lot to the Nation's citizens who gathered at the school to receive the gift.

"This is the first time in 300 years our corn has come home to us," Millette said. "As customary after receiving a gift", Millette said, "the Abenaki would give a gift in return". She then presented the Calleys with Indian sage - an herb used for prayer ceremonies - a small Abenaki basket and a T-shirt bearing the name of the Koasek Abenaki Band.

A Cherished Tradition

Centuries before the arrival of English settlers in the 1760s, the native Abenaki people grew corn on the fields of the oxbows of the Connecticut River in Newbury, Vt., and Haverhill, N.H., according to historical information gathered by Charlie and Sarah Calley. When the settlers arrived, they obtained corn seeds from the Indians and continued growing it, always saving enough seed for next year's planting.

The process of planting this corn, which only grows about waist high and produces one four-inch ear per stalk, was passed down through the generations of the settlers and eventually came to the family of the late Carroll Greene. The Calleys met Greene in 1973. Greene, who had grown up in Newbury, grew the corn exclusively. He eventually gave the Calleys several ears of dried seed corn and asked them to keep the process going. Every spring since 1973, the Calleys said, they have planted the seed, thinning and weeding the rows and enjoying the corn, which comes early, usually in July. The Calleys said the corn withstands drought very well, thrives in a wet summer and never gets diseased.

The Koasek Abenaki plan to redistribute the seeds and start replenishing the corn. Millette said there are even a few members in their tribe interested in growing the corn themselves.

The return of their corn and the process of preserving their tribe marks some very important steps in the history of the Abenaki since they achieved official state recognition last May. For 30 years the Abenaki have fought for a bill recognizing the tribe's existence in Vermont. They finally won state recognition in 1977, but the recognition was later rescinded.

August 4th, 2006
Gov. Douglas appoints all-Native Native American Affairs Commission

Gov. Jim Douglas on Thursday announced his appointments to the new Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.

The seven-member group is made up entirely of Native Americans, and was formed following the signing into law of Act 125, the bill giving State recognition to Vermont's Abenaki People, three months ago to the day.

Appointees include:
Don Stevens, 40, of Enosburg Falls;
Chair; Mark Mitchell, 52, of Barnet;
Judy Dow, 52, of Essex Junction;
Timothy de la Bruere, 24, of Newport;
Charlene McManis, 53, of Worcester;
Jeanne Brink, 61, of Barre.

The members were announced in a statement issued by Douglas' office.

Mitchell will serve as Chairman of the Commission. A graduate of Daniel Webster College, Mitchell is a former member of the Governor's Commission on Native American Affairs and former executive director of the Abenaki Self Help Association, Inc., where he developed and implemented programs for education, employment, economic development, youth, substance abuse and housing. He is currently employed as program director for the Becket Family of Services in Pike, N.H., which serves troubled and underprivileged youth in residential and academic settings and is a behavioral consultant to similar programs.

May 8th, 2006

Howard "Grandfather Circle" F. Knight Jr. is now acting as Senior Advisor to the Koasek (Cowasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation since stepping down April 18th, 2006.

May 5th, 2006

Brian Chenevert and Nancy Millette voted in as Chief and Co-Chief by band citizens.

April 19th, 2006

Jeff Benay, Chairman Of Native Affairs Commission

Announces that S.117 State Recognition of the Abenaki People will be signed by Governor Douglas on May 3rd, 2006 at 10 AM on the Steps of the State House.

April 15th, 2006
Abenaki Councils in Unity move Forward

Historically the Abenaki Nation’s territory consisted of Vermont, New Hampshire, Southern Quebec, Western Maine, Eastern New York and North Western Massachusetts. With in this territory are many bands historically and many are alive and well today. In the last few months many of these councils have been meeting in Unity to plan for the future and help pave way for the generations to come. Councils and Bands have been focusing on programs to help preserve and make available to the youth and to the next generations issues that have always been on the minds of many.

Jeff Benay, Vermont’s Commissioner of Native American Affairs, Fred Wiseman historian, David Stewart Smith, Penacook and historian, Peter Newell, Intertribal Council, Roger Longtoe, El Nu Band, Howard Knight, Cowasuck, Yvon and Yannick Mercier of Sherbrooke, PQ are all pooling together the ancient history of their area and research to share and document for the future. All the bands above and several other groups are working to help Unify the bond between their band citizens as one Nation working for the better of all. Elders who are part of the Councils in Unity bring a spiritual awareness all focusing on the importance of brotherhood, responsibility, peace and ancient protocol. Fred Wiseman with the help of Jeff Benay and the Seven Fires, has recently produced a DVD "Out of the Darkness" which is a work in progress. With a projected finish date of 2009, it is Wiseman’s ambition to work with all the historians, re-enactors, families and leaders in Unity to complete this documentary film, which will give a good over all perception of the entire Abenaki Nation. All councils in Unity are working toward a better cultural awareness with schools to help the diversity to include the Abenaki children in all of the territory. Peter Newell, has been working with the schools in his area of New Hampshire and has put into place a program for the Abenaki students. Jeff Benay and other members of the Vermont NA Commission in years pass were able to produce a Teachers Guide to help the teachers and schools in VT. Many others citizens of the Abenaki have been making head way in the educational fields with in their area. Missisquoi in Swanton has a museum at their nation headquarters that is open to the public.