This document has been prepared by the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation to fulfill the recognition conditions as required by Vermont Statute S. 222 § 853. (b). The materials contained herein are for the purposes of legislative recognition by the Vermont Legislature only, and may not be published or otherwise used without permission of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation.
(1) Physical and legal residence in Vermont.
Headquarters, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation
162 Evergreen Drive
Newbury, VT 05051
(2) Maintaining an organized tribal membership roll with specific criteria used to determine membership
Tribal rolls organized on computer,
Supporting hard copy personnel files
Genealogical descendency charts maintained on computer
(3) Documented traditions, customs, and legends that signify Native American heritage.
Detailed historical/geographical data compiled by Frederick Wiseman submitted Jan 22. Summary review appended as Attachment I.
(4) (a) Tribal council
i. Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation Tribal Council
ii. Elders Council
iii. White Pine Foundation (Social/Cultural Services) Board of Directors
(b) a constitution
Chief, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation
Subchief, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation
(5) Been and continues to be recognized by other Native American communities in Vermont as a Vermont tribe.
All Tribes are united in an Alliance (The Vermont Indigenous Alliance) and after a vigorous three year vetting process (2006-2009) each tribe of the Alliance recognizes all others as Indian tribes. See cover letter.
(6) Been known by state, county or local municipal officials, or the public as a functioning tribe in Vermont.
Fred Wiseman (Chair, Dept. of Humanities, JSC)
Richard Boisvert (NH State Archaeologist)
David Skinas (USDA, assisted in archaeological survey for Koas Mission, Attachment 1)
(Assisted VT Quadricentennial, Burlington and other State and local governments in education. (Attachment 2)
Known through many articles including the following attachments:
"Restoring the Abenakis" Cultural Survival Fall, 2006:13 (Attachment 3)
"Nawhila Pow Wow The Bridge, June 7, 2007 (Attachment 4)
(7) Not been recognized as a tribe in any other state, province, or nation
The Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation has never been officially recognized as a tribe in any other state, province, or nation.
(8) An enduring community presence within the boundaries of Vermont that can be documented by archaeology, ethnography, physical anthropology, history, genealogy, folklore and/or other applicable scholarly research. (Appendix 2)
From: dskinas tds.net
Sent: Friday, February 19, 2010 3:22 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: in detail /forgot to include VT Trademark..
This is what I just sent to Vince and Hinda at the email addresses you gave me. I wanted them to get this before the weekend to hopefully have a postive effect for your claim here in VT.
(to Vince and Hinda, cc: Meredith)
I write this letter to you on behalf of Nancy Millette, Chief of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas, whose ancestral lands cover both sides of the Connecticut River. I am an archeologist working for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and also work very closely with Chief April St. Francis-Merrill of the Missisquoi band. Together Chief April and I have spearheaded archeological investigations on Monument Road in Swanton and Highgate to identify burial sites in advance of house development, and we were able to successfully protect a significant burial ground in Alburg. Vince: perhaps you remember me providing testimony to several of your hearings over the years. I also work with the Stockbridge-Munsee band of the Mohican Nation, who have ancestral homelands in Addison, Rutland and Bennington counties, to help them protect their valuable cultural sites. While working in Massachusetts for my agency I assisted the Aquinnah (Gayhead Wampanoag) and the Mashpee Wampanoag to help them locate and protect their ancient and historic burial sites. Over the last several years I have also worked closely with Chief Nancy Millette of the Koasek Traditional Band to help her locate the 1700 era Jesuit Mission that once existed in Newbury on the Oxbow. Her knowledge and concerns for the protection of her tribe's heritage and burial sites in Vermont and New Hampshire is extraordinary. Based on her archival research we began searching for the mission last year using a metal detector and other archeological tools. Our investigation will continue this year in Vermont as more documentary evidence comes to light to help us find the ruins of that lost Jesuit mission. I tell you all this to show you that Nancy's heart and heritage is based here in Vermont and those that may falsely claim otherwise are not known to me and my working relationship with native peoples in Vermont or in New England.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
617 Comstock Road, Suite 1
Berlin, Vermont 05602-8498
802-828-4493 ext. 102
Department of Tourism & Marketing [phone] 802-828-3237
One National Life Drive, 6th Floor [faxj 802-828-3233
Montpelier, VT 05620-0501
December 8, 2009
Nancy Millette Doucet
The White Pine Association
PO Box 42, Newbury VT 05051
I am writing to thank you and the White Pine Association for your many efforts to share Koawsek history-with Vermonters and visitors. From school children and families to town officials and summer residents, all of us will be better caretakers of what makes Vermont so special when we understand the multi-layered histories of our neighbours and our regions.
Congratulations on your A BRIEF HISTORY: FROM THE KOAS MEADOWS TO YOU TODAY publication. It is a wonderful resource that does much to further understanding of the Koasek people and the Koas region Likewise, the event sponsored by the White Pines Association, and the White Pines Association Language Project website do much t0 raise -awareness and welcome new audiences.
Over the part summer working Lake Champlain Quadricentennial organizations and events, it became clear to me that more and more people are becoming aware of Vermont's Native past, and many are eager to learn more. I will recommend your resource. Please keep in touch and I look forward to working with you to spread the word about Koasek resources and events.
And again thank you for your hard work and impressive results.
Cultural Heritage Tourism Coordinator
According to Missiqoui Abenaki historian Fred Wiseman, until 2006 it was official Vermont state policy that modern-day Abenakis were “genealogical frauds.” For Nancy Lyons, that policy belied everything she learned as a child. Lyons was raised by her two grandmothers, who kept the old ways by always opening their homes and hearts to other Abenaki in need. She lived with her great-grandmother, Flora Hunt, a Koasek medicine woman who, even after becoming blind in her old age, knew where to find ginsing and other traditional medicinal plants. Their basement was crammed with butternuts that her grandmothers ground to make cookies and cakes, and with maple syrup made from the sap she helped her grandfather harvest and transport by sleigh.
Lyons’ childhood was filled with mystery and wonder. She remembers a time when she was eight or nine when a light bulb in the ceiling unscrewed itself and a ray of light circled clockwise around the room. Sitting at the kitchen table, her grandmother announced that her grandfather had just passed over. The light bulb then went back on and a moment later the phone rang. It was the local hospital calling to inform her grandmother of her husband’s death.
One of Lyons’ chores as a child was to take down and comb her great-grandmother’s waist-length hair. It was during those intimate moments that her great grandmother taught her the values she lives by today: to take care of others, especially those who are sick or in need; to be thankful; to pay attention to and interpret her dreams; and to do everything she does in life from the heart. As her great grandmother lay dying, Lyons promised her that when she grew up she would find her people and help them. “That has been the drive behind everything I have done in my lifetime,” Lyons told me.
Vermont’s attitude towards the Abenaki mirrored that of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Lyons calls it the “cookie-cutter approach” to who is an Indian. If a tribe could not demonstrate that it had a centuries-old governance structure that approximated the American model of government, its members were not Indians. There was no leeway in this policy for New England bands whose lands were stolen in the eighteenth century, who had to hide from the Ku Klux Klan and other racists who discriminated against Indians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and whose children had been forced to attend boarding schools where they were beaten for speaking their native languages.
Like other New England tribes, the Koasek, whose traditional lands straddled the Connecticut River between modern-day Vermont and New Hampshire, adapted by appearing to assimilate. In public they wore Western clothes and acted like whites. Only at home did they let down their hair and express their indigenousness with relatives and other tribe members. Under such circumstances, continuous formal governance structures were impossible to maintain.
But they were not forgotten. Koasek culture has never been static. Ancient carving tools found by archeologists in Jefferson, New Hampshire, suggest that Abenaki people lived there in permanent settlements some 8,000 years ago. More recent archeological evidence suggests that the Abenaki were good at adjusting to changing circumstances. When faced with climatic, political, or other pressures, they split into small bands and took up migratory lifestyles, but regrouped in settled seasonal communities or permanent villages when doing so was advantageous. Governance structures shifted depending on the needs at any given time, but there were always chiefs (often more than one in a band or tribe) who were entrusted with looking after the needs of their people.
Lyons’ journey to tribal leadership began at 19 when her first child was born with hemophilia and, to juggle caring for him and earning a living, she took a job in a hospital. It was there that she first learned about the health and psychosocial problems that plague Native American communities. A friend told her about a group called the
Lyons has been on a roll ever since, notwithstanding the birth of two more children and the death of her oldest, at 21, from AIDS that he contracted from a tainted blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia. She spent time as a volunteer at Ganigonhi:yoh, an Onondaga Nation healing place that provides a broad array of healing services free of charge to Native Americans. There she learned about “historic trauma,” and came to understand the issues around language loss and diabetes, and how alcoholism was used by the United States as a weapon against indigenous peoples.
Later Lyons spent several months helping Mohawk chief Tom Porter manage Kanatsiohareke, a language- immersion, cultural-education, and community-support center located on Mohawk traditional lands in Fonda, New York.
Her most important mentor was Chief Homer St. Francis, of the western-Vermont-based Missiquoi/Sokoki Abenakis. It was Chief St. Francis who led the charge to persuade Vermont to change its policy towards the Abenaki. In addition to helping him, Lyons turned her sights on persuading New Hampshire to do so as well. She complemented Chief St. Francis’ confrontational style with her natural diplomacy and with the patience to educate those with the power to bring about change. Chief St. Francis died just months before his dream of recognition was realized, but it lives on in his daughter April St. Francis, who succeeded him as Missiquoi/Sokoki chief, and in Fred Wiseman, Lyons, and other Abenaki leaders.
Lyons says she was surprised when the Koasek asked her to be their leader. Everyone knew that Brian Chevenert was being groomed to be chief by his predecessor. But Chevenert was young and had a growing family and a good job in Massachusetts. When the old chief died, he was not sure he was ready for the full role, which in Koasek culture is a lifelong responsibility. So, after much consultation, the community decided Lyons was the perfect person to be co-chief with him.
I asked Lyons whether there was any community resistance to having a woman as co-chief. She seemed surprised by the question, and said she’d heard of none among the Koasek, even though, as far as she knows, she is the first female Koasek chief, just as April St. Francis is the first female chief of the Missiquoi/Sokoki. She did hear reports of raised eyebrows among the kin of her Haudenosaunee husband Howard Lyons, but the Six Nations have a very different governance structure, one that is divided among male chiefs and female clan mothers. A female chief was a new concept for them, but once they thought about it they admired the fact that a woman had stepped up to the plate.
For Lyons, recognition by Vermont is just another step on the path to the revitalization of the Koasek Nation. Like Chief April St. Francis, she looks forward to the day when the United States government will recognize her people. But more importantly she looks forward to the day when her own people can recognize and enjoy all dimensions of themselves, their culture, and their community as a native people. That’s what she believes the Koasek Cultural Academy will accomplish.
Lyons’ next hurdle is to raise the $300,000 it will take to complete the purchase and rehabilitate the elementary school campus for use as a Cultural Academy. But even as she is out fund raising, she also is finding other ways to strengthen her community. Next June, the Koasec will host the Nawhihla Cultural Week and Pow Wow on their traditional ceremonial grounds in Haverhill. “Nawihla” is a Koasec word that means “I am returning home.” While about three-quarters of registered tribal citizens still live in the vicinity of their traditional lands, the word means more than just returning to a place. As Chief Brian Chenevert put it, “This is truly a celebration of thanks that our people can once again walk, dance, and sing in our ancestor’s footsteps.”
—Ellen L.Lutz is the executive director of Cultural Survival
Editor’s Note: The Women the World Must Hear department will appear in each issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly and will profile indigenous women who are making a difference their communities and in the world.
The Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation retains a significant fund of traditional knowledge and customs that can be tied to a native heritage through ethnography or folkloric studies, as detailed in Appendix 2. We have abstracted and organized a sample of this information to specifically address criterion § 853. (b) (3) "Documented traditions, customs, and legends that signify Native American heritage."
The traditions of the Koas Meadows area tend to be more community based, while customs tend to be more family based. There has been a longstanding tradition of a consensus style "downtown" (Newbury) Indigenous leadership. To meet the expectations of Euroamerican bureaucrats with which it must deal, Koasek has necessarily morphed into more formal tribal structures -- complete with chiefs and councils. However, it still retains a unique, more open and compromise-style of governance of relatively autonomous families. Due to the strength of community tradition, Indigenous identity was always known. As author and Koasek Chief Nancy Doucet said, "Tribal citizenship rolls have always been easy to manage, since, everyone always knew who was Indian in the (Koas) meadows and who was not." However, there were also important traditions that tied this community to place. For example, the (still-unfruitful) search for the ruins of the old Koas Mission using local traditional memory and professional archaeologists (see attachment I) is one process instigated and maintained by traditional geographic knowledge. A more specific example is that of Mr. Philip Vielluex from Wells River VT. In the 1960's he told author Nancy Millette that "the Indians buried their dead in the Cowass meadows sitting up." Another is the memory of, then search for, a local Indigenous corn variety that led to its revival by the Fullerton family in 2007.
We will discuss fishing customs as meeting this sub-criterion. On page 176 of her 1996 dissertation The Contemporary Western Abenakis, Historian Mariella Squier (Squire) described the survival of a modern expedient version of Indigenous fishing. Squier quotes a Northeastern VT child, "My grandmother is Indian, she catches fish in a milk crate (a square plastic box with open mesh sides). She takes the crate down to the river, where the river goes between two rocks, and puts the crate in the water so the fish swim in and get caught." This technique is the way that the traditional ash-splint basket (from this area described in Appendix 2) was placed to catch fish — a survival of a traditional subsistence custom. Another piscatorial custom is subtle but linguistically informative. In the 20th century, Newbury children (now Koasek elders) caught white suckers; considered "trash fish" to use for fertilizer. Author Doucet, who caught these fish, noted that Newbury, VT area women who would "use the (sucker) fish heads in (their) gardens" during the spring planting season. As we point out in Appendix 2, linguistic evidence indicates that this was the traditional Native use for these fish.
Unfortunately, there has, at this time been little organized folkloric study of the Koas meadows, probing for "pre-contact" types of stories and legends. Most of the local traditional stories that the authors are familiar with focus on the era when Koas was a viable Indian community, probably in the late 17th and 18th centuries. There are fragmented and un-systemic stories of the "old Indian fort and the old mission at the meadows, as well as some kind of residual pride that the mission was the earliest Catholic Mission in the whole area. Whether true historically or not, this and allied stories nevertheless bind the group together and separates it from the wider Euroamerican community. We are confident that, with focused folkloric research, much more detail, at least on the old original indigenous community, will emerge.
These data are derived from the "Something of Value paper delivered to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs on Jan 22,2010.
An important cultural-geographic region in Vermont was and is known as Coos Meadows; a narrow, north south trending zone beginning in the Connecticut River Valley above Newbury VT trending south and ending in the White River Valley. Like most of Vermont, the Lower Coos culture area has not had a comprehensive 19th and 20th century history published; and so more detail is also necessary here. It is also, by far the most complex and confusing area in Vermont to organize, analyze and describe aboriginal cultural and historical geography. Its colonial history commences before 1713, at which time the French had established a mission among the Koas Indigenous people, and there were significant Native settlements near modern Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. The "Kowhas" village (modern Newbury, VT) is delineated on the VT side of the Connecticut River in Colonial Period maps (see map) and in many 18th century histories. However, we are tracing the post-Colonial history of the Lower Coos communities. As of now, it seems to consist of a Newbury VT village core zone that consumes much of the more detailed historical geography recounted here, but also included more southerly regional outlier Lower Coos (and perhaps other) polities as well. It is clear that as Newbury (that has documentary researchers like author Nancy Doucet) have more genealogical and documentary information than some outliers such as the White River Valley and environs, which have only been minimally studied.
The Newbury, VT “core zone"
Joe' trade gun (if actually owned by him!) is an extremely important materialist clue to connections between Eastern VT and more northerly and westerly Indian peoples. This highly evolved muzzle-loading gun (instantly identified by its brass "recurved dragon" side plate that can be seen in Figure 1) was perfected in Pennsylvania after the Revolutionary War, and then also adopted by British gun makers for exchange with the Indians still actively participating in the Fur trade during Indian Joe's later lifetime. Indian Joe's gun would have never have been sold locally in Vermont, but must have been obtained directly from a distant, northern or western Native trading post, or by an interesting, long-distance economic exchange with someone who had direct access to one of these remote trading posts. During this period, the "Lower Cowass" area seemed to be composed of an interlinked system of intermarrying family groups from approximately Wells River to White River, VT, who retained ethnic memories and technologies. The Indigenous families in the core village of Newbury maintained an Indian identity during the 19th century that was commented upon by their Euroamerican neighbors. The "First Families and Town Characters" document in the unpublished Margerte/J.P. Lamarre papers curated in the Bath, NH Historical Society, contains a written 19th century memory of Ms. Tristram Willis (d. 1906) of "Indians in the (Newbury, VT) town." In addition, Katherine Blaisdell noted in her book that Indian women used to sell baskets and trinkets from house to house in Newbury Vermont almost up to the Civil War. Blaisdell also noted that they used wigwams, probably the traditional Wabanaki conical bark variety, for part of the year, and the men used the wigwam camps as a base from which to hunt and fish. The unpublished Lamarre papers corroborate this narrative; and brought it forward in time; in that that a Mr. Edwin Chamberlin noted that an island in the Connecticut River held a "wigwam every summer around nineteen hundred."
These people left characteristic 19th century materials and behaviors as corroborating evidence of their activity on the VT side of the Connecticut River, including a unique (in the Western Abenaki area) ca. 1840's ash-splint basketry fish trap of a distinct Native type curated at the ECHO Center in Burlington. It was used to catch eels on the White River (Figure 2).
Another piscatorial tradition is subtle but linguistically informative. In the 20th century, the region of the junction of the Ammonoosuc and Connecticut Rivers was a well-known spring fishing place for Newbury children (now Koasek elders) to catch white suckers. They are easy to catch, but are only marginally edible; and considered "trash fish." Why send kids to harvest these foul tasting denizens of the Connecticut River? The answer is encoded in the Abenaki language. This activity was the harvesting and use of the Ki'kanmkoe of Father Rasle's 1724 Abenaki dictionary. He translated it as "carp," but 1724 was well before European carp infested New England's fisheries. The fish referred to is the indigenous Northeastern white sucker (Catostomus commersonii). The meaning of Ki'kanmkoe (ki'kann= improved land, garden + amekw=fish) is "garden fish," referring to its use as horticultural fertilizer. We have oral history and remembered, first person observational references to Newbury, VT area women who would "use the (sucker) fish heads in (their) gardens" during the spring planting season. When the fact that 1.) specially harvested white suckers, rather than the more abundant fish waste from edible "sport" species such as shad, northern pike etc. were used in horticulture, is combined with 2.) linguistic data on the species from the next river drainage to the east, it is evidence of an embedded Indigenous ethnic fish species preference in the Connecticut River Valley.
Specialized clothing, most likely used for the basket selling described Katherine Blaisdell, remains with good Lower Coos provenance. The most striking example of turn-of-the-20th century woman's attire curated at the Wôbanakik Heritage Center in Swanton is a hand-sewn, "cut cloth fringe" tan dress with red ribbon and white cloth detailing that is in excellent original condition (Figure 3). It is a distinctly Native early 20th century type from the White River Valley area of VT, the same area that produced the basketry fish-trap seen in figure 20.
Regarding Attachment 4 of this "Decolonizing the Abenaki...." I have repeatedly posted FACTUAL DOCUMENTATION regarding Flora Eunice (nee: Ingerson) Hunt and her mother, Almira (nee: Rines) Ingerson-Pollock.
LINK 1: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/some-genealogical-homemade-charted.html
LINK 2: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/genealogical-romp-into-rines-ingerson.html
LINK 3: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-information-on-almira-rines.html
LINK 4: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/almira-rines-ingerson-pollocks-death.html
LINK 5: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/and-more-regarding-smith-and-ingerson.html
LINK 6: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/john-pollocks-obituary-and-flora-eunice.html
LINK 7: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-genealogical-information-regarding.html
LINK 8: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/10/july-10-2002-sagakwa-pow-wow-event-in.html
LINK 9: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2009/06/july-2000-jefferson-nh-archaeological.html
As one can (once again) review and evaluate the ACTUAL genealogically-sourced factual documentation, there is a HUGE DISCONNECT between the HISTORICAL REALITY and what Nancy Lee (nee: Millette) Cruger-Lyons-Doucett is SAYING about her ancestors, Flora Eunice (nee: Ingerson) Hunt and Flora's mother Almira!
For Frederick Matthew Wiseman PhD to cite in this work of his, such ca. Fall 2006 "Restoring the Abenaki" (by Ellen Lutz) article, which is full of bullsh**, he has made such "great leaps of faith" that there is nothing "scholarly" about any of what is in this "Decolonizing the Abenaki...." paper.
If I were I were a Professional College Professor, I would be very concerned about the Academic Skills he's been teaching his students! I would personally also give Frederick Matthew Wiseman an "F+" for his alleged attempting to create such piece of poorly done work. NOTHING IS PROPERLY PREFESSIONALLY SOURCED. I would throw it in the trash after getting past the "first section" of such a 5-and-Dime novel write-up!
I would strongly suggest to the man Mr. Frederick Matthew Wiseman PhD, that he should go back to studying "indigenous rocks" instead Indigenous People's, because he probably would be a bit more accurate, in "his opinions". That is just MY THINKING on the matter after studying this "alleged scholarly work" entitled "Decolonizing the Abenaki: A Methodology for Detecting Vermont Tribal Identity" bt Frederick M. Wiseman.
As I have been writing this REPSPONSE, I have received an email communication from "a direct Phillips descendant".....in possession of this particular "A. Phillips" photograph, and this person states:
"As to the photograph of Antoine Phillips, I am very sure it is Antoine Phillips Jr. I have a copy of his death certificate which says he died on March 11, 1918 at the Union Poor Farm in Essex, Vt.. His relationship to me would be that he was my materal grandmother's grandfather. Also according to the death certificate he was 90 yrs old at the time of his death. I hope this is the information you need. I don't think I have any more information about him at this time."