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Great Chief of
the Abenaki

By James P. Millard

t is a rare discussion of the Abenaki People that does not mention their greatest leader. A war chief, and not a true Abenaki himself (he was Waronoke) Grey Lock conducted his raids against Colonial settlers in New England from his base in Missisquoi, or as the Abenaki themselves called the place, Mazipskoik.

 Grey Lock's period of greatest activity was between 1723 and 1726 when he fought the war that would come to be known by his name. Striking the towns along the Connecticut River without warning, he successfully foiled one expedition after another sent by the Massachusetts levies to capture him. 

One of the most interesting things about Grey Lock's War is that it was not part of the conflicts between France and England, which were usually ongoing and which invariably involved the local natives, much to their detriment. Grey Lock's War was fought by native Americans- for their own reasons, not at the behest of or for the rights of a foreign power. 

Grey Lock, like the majority of his people, did eventually ally himself with the French. Ancient Jesuit records from Fort St. Frédéric, show that this great war chief, known to the French as la Tête Blanche, or The White Head, converted to Catholicism and was baptized under the French name of Pierre-Jean while his wife was known as Hélène. They had a son and a daughter, Jean-Baptiste and Marie-Charlotte. Gray Lock's descendants today carry the family name Wawanolet.1

Monument to the great Abenaki Chief Grey Lock
Battery Park, Burlington Vermont

For an outstanding account of The Abenaki in Vermont including an entire chapter on Grey Lock's War, I recommend that you read:

The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800
War, Migration, and the survival of an Indian people.

by Colin G. Calloway
University of Oklahoma Press: Norman and London, published 1990

and also of interest-

The Original Vermonters- Native Inhabitants, Past and Present. by Haviland, William A. and Power, Marjory W. published 1994. University of Vermont. Published by University Press of New England.

In Search of New England's Native Past- Selected Essays by Gordon M. Day.
Edited by Michael K. Foster and William Cowen.
University of Massachusetts Press, published 1998.

Recommended Abenaki Links:
The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi (St. Francis/Sokoki Band)
Traditional Abenaki of Mazipskwik
Native Languages of the Americas: Abenaki Language


        1Gordon M. Day, "IN SEARCH OF NEW ENGLAND'S NATIVE PAST- Selected Essays by Gordon M. Day" Edited by Michael K. Foster and William Cowen ( University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1998) 144, 147

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