people of the white pines...

The Koasek (Cowasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation has continuously been an established Tribe for many generations. We include the names and terms of our long line of Chiefs in this Constitution for the benefit of those who will preserve our heritage in the future, as we deem it as noteworthy for understanding the walk our Tribe has taken to become who we are today. It is important for our descendants to have knowledge of the progression of our name and transition of our Tribe. Of primary importance is the fact that there are many clans mentioned, with Chiefs named; however, we are all members of one and the same Tribe.

    The father of Chief Nathan E. Pero is Chief Elwin (Joe) Pero.
    The Nolka Clan is the same as the Deer Clan.

Following is a list of over 180 years of Tribal Chiefs of the Koasek (Cowasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation:

  • Chief Elwin (Joe) Pero 1947 to 1981, Co'wasuck of the Coos Chief Elwin (Joe) Pero

  • Chief Howard Knight Jr. 1981 to 2006 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation (under other tribal names)

  • Chief Brian Chenevert 2006 to 2010 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Co-Chief Nancy Millette Lyons 2006 to 2007 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Sub-Chief Nancy Millette Cruger Lyons Doucet 2007 to 2007 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Sub-Chief Leo Descoteaux .2007 to 2009 (passed over) Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Sub-Chief Paul Bunnell 2009 to 2010 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Chief Paul Bunnell 2010 to 2010 Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation

  • Co-Chief Nathan Pero of Ko'asek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation 2010 to 2015

  • Co-Chief Paul Bunnell Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation 2010 to 2015

  • Chief Paul Bunnell, Ko'asek (Co'wasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation. (Under Clans Agreement) 2015-Present

The Chief's Sash

In this picture, Retired Chief Howard F. Knight bestows the Chief’s Sash to Chief Chenevert. This same sash was bestowed upon Chief Knight when Chief Joe Pero passed who had it bestowed upon him by Chief George Pero.

The Chief’s Sash dates back roughly to the 1800’s based on oral tradition and is passed from Chief to Chief. The following oral history of the sash comes from Deer Clan Chief Reggie Pero in 1983 who bestowed the sash to Chief Knight after Chief Joe Pero had "Passed Over".

The Sash was instituted sometime during the 1st half of the 1800's due to a dispute that was going on at the time between the various Chiefs of the various family Clans and Bands throughout the Coos territory as a way to bring some order and respect to the semi-annual and annual gatherings that were periodically held. The 1st Chief of Chiefs of the Coos to be honored with it was a Clan Chief from southern Quebec, south of Sherbrooke, who lived nearby to the US-Canadian border. The next was a Tribal Band Chief from New Hampshire and then there is no information available until it was bestowed upon Chief George Pero back in the 1920's, it was then entrusted and bestowed upon Chief Joe Pero in the 1950's, and bestowed upon Chief Howard F. Knight in 1983 and then to Chief Brian Chenevert in 2009.

Note:Our Chief’s Sash is currently in the possession of present Nulhegan member and resigned Koasek chief Brian Chenevert.

Upon its return we look forward to bestowing it upon our present Chief.

This Sash is and has been a most important and vital part of our Band’s culture, so we pray it will soon be returned to its rightful owners, the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, in order to continue its historic progression from chief-to-chief.

Our Sash originates in our current Chief’s family history and possibly further back into our history in Quebec. It is not “just a sash,” it is a symbol of honor as well as being a tribal family traditional heirloom.


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.

Image of Abenaki engaged in maple sugaring.

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.

Chiefs related to Koasek family members

Chief Paul has been updating our tribal chiefs list to represent ALL of our member's ancestral chiefs in ALL of our genealogies. Previously, we just listed one family line for the purposed of applying for Vermont State Recognition. Chief Paul has corrected this unfair representation and compiled an impressive members chiefs lists based on ALL of our membership. It is something to be very proud of as you see a rich bloodline of our leading ancestors running up to our present day chiefs, a list that spans not just 180 years, but one of over 477 years, our true chief's genealogy. Some drawings here are of a few of our ancient chiefs. From left to right; Abenaki Chief Barthelem; Mi'kmak Chief Henri Membertou; Abenaki White Chief, Joseph Louis Gil; Narragansett Chief Canochet Canonicus; Wampanoag Chief Ihyannough/Hyanno

Henri Membertou Joseph Louis Gill Canochet Canonicus Ihyannough/Hyanno

Historical Chiefs associated with Ko'asek Tribal People

The following is a list of over 477 years of Tribal Clans and Chiefs of the Koasek (Cowasuck) Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, New England & Eastern Canada Tribal Family Members.
*Chief Canochet Canonicus, b. c. 1539 d. 1647

*Chief Ihyannough/Hyanno, b. 1565, Cape Cod, Mass. D. 1622, Cape Cod.

*Grand Chief Henri Membertou, b.c. 1570 Port Royal Acadie, d. 1611

*Chief Charles Pachirini, c. 1570 Algonquin Nation, Nepissingue. d. after 1648, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

*Chief Louis (Judas) Membertoucoichis, b. c. 1593, Acadie, Canada, d. Port Royal, Acadie.

*Chief Barthelemy/Barthelemi Miteouamigou, b. 1600 Algonquin Nation, Nepissingue d. 1704, Quebec

*Chief Du Plat Anncheston Atsena, b. Attignadouantan, Ontario, Canada. d. after Aug. 1657

*Chief Bear Clan, Nicolas Arendanki/Anenontha, Ontario, Canada, b. 1623 d.1649

*Chief Chatburn, b. c. 1700 Long Island New York.

*"White Chief", Joseph Louis Gill, (Nagwawidobait) b. 1719 Odanak, Quebec, d. 1798 Odanak

*"White Grand Chief" Augustin Gill, b. 1770 Odanak, d. 1851

*Chief Peter Jackson (Polani/Taxus/Taxos/Takus b. c. 1815 St. Francis, Quebec.

*Chief Joachim Arontio Ouentouen, b. aft 1620 La Conception Pays Des Hurons, Quebec, Canada