Graylock, Western Abenaki Missisquoi chief of Woronoco/Pocomtuc ancestry


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Graylock (c. 1670 to 1750) was a Western Abenaki Missisquoi chief of Woronoco/Pocomtuc ancestry, born near Westfield, Massachusetts.

Continued English settlement onto Abenaki lands erupted into a new conflict in 1722. While the French, New York colonists, and Iroquois looked on, Abenakis from coastal Maine to Lake Champlain focused raids on the Massachusetts Colony in the conflict known variously as Dummer’s War, Three Years War, Lovewell’s War, The War with the Eastern Indian or Father Rasle’s War.

Gray Lock distinguished himself by conducting guerrilla raids into Vermont and western Massachusetts. He consistently eluded his pursuers, and acquired the name Wawanolet (also spellrf Wawanolewat, Wawanotewat or or Wawanolet), meaning “he who fools the others, or puts someone off the track.”

Early Life and Family

Gray Lock was born in the 1670s, near Westfield, Massachusetts. He was of mixed Woronoco/Pocomtuc ancestry and was raised in a traditional Indigenous community. His parents are not known, but it is believed that his father was a Woronoco chief.

Graylock grew up hunting, fishing, and learning the customs and traditions of his people. He also learned to speak English, which would later help him in his dealings with the colonizers.

Marriages and Children

Graylock is known to have had at least two wives, but their names are not recorded. He had several children, including a son named Pomp and a daughter named Molly. Pomp was also a leader of the Missisquoi Abenaki tribe and fought alongside his father in the resistance movements.

Resistance against the Colonizers

Graylock became a prominent leader of the Missisquoi Abenaki tribe, which was based in what is now Vermont. He was known for his skill in battle and his strategic thinking. He led several attacks on European settlements, including Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Fort Massachusetts, which was located in what is now North Adams, Massachusetts.

In 1724, Graylock led a group of Abenaki warriors in an attack on Fort Massachusetts. The fort was defended by a small group of soldiers, but Graylock and his warriors managed to breach the walls and set the fort on fire.

The soldiers were forced to surrender, and Graylock and his warriors took several prisoners. This attack made Graylock a hero among the Indigenous people and a thorn in the side of the colonizers.

Graylock continued to lead attacks on European settlements throughout the 1720s and 1730s. He was known for his ability to unite different Indigenous tribes in the resistance movements.

Eastern Abenaki groups made peace with Massachusetts in 1725 and 1726, and Abenakis from Canada agreed to peace terms in 1727,  but Gray Lock refused. Although it is not clear whether he was actually ever personally associated with the mountain, perhaps in tribute to his notoriety, the mountain came to bear his name.  

In 1746, he led a group of Abenaki, Mohawk, and French soldiers in an attack on Fort Massachusetts. The fort was defended by a large group of soldiers, and the attack was unsuccessful. However, Graylock and his warriors managed to escape without any casualties.

Later Years and Death

As Graylock grew older, he became a respected elder in the Missisquoi Abenaki tribe. He continued to advocate for the rights of Indigenous people and to resist the encroachment of European settlers on Indigenous lands. He died in 1750, at the age of around 80 years old.

The Legacy of Graylock

He is remembered as a hero of the Indigenous resistance movements. He was known for his courage, his skill in battle, and his leadership abilities. His legacy has been preserved through oral histories and through the writings of European colonizers.

Today, he is celebrated by Indigenous people as a symbol of resistance and resilience in the face of colonization.