Cowasuck Decide to Resist

The Abenaki inhabitants of the land we now call “New Hampshire” were left with few good options when Europeans began arriving to settle in the 17th century.  With French settlements to the north, English settlers encroaching from the south, and sometimes hostile Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) to the west, the Abenaki at times forged alliances, at times waged armed resistance, and most often tried to stay out of the way to preserve access to land where they had lived since time immemorial. 

The Cowasuck (or Koasek) band of Abenakis traditionally lived in what is today known as Newbury, VT and Haverhill, NH.  Despite threats of attack, the Cowasuck band refused an offer of refuge from the French government of Quebec in 1704.  In a speech to Governor-General Vaudreuil, a representative of the Cowasuck people said,

“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 [meaning “Place of the White Pines”]. I could not do that easily if I was in your country.

“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, has been cited in several places as the source of this quotation.]

Despite their resistance, ongoing raids forced the community to leave the area.  They were dispersed throughout the region now known as northern New England and southern Quebec. 

Indigenous New Hampshire is a good source of information, including a “story map” of significant cultural and historical sites.

Find information about the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki here.

Find information about the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook/Abenaki people here.

There are several other websites for Abenaki groups.