May 15th, 2022
Chief Hockeo (Roy Sebastian), Eastern Pequot
Known as Chief Hockeo, Running Deer, Roy Sebastian, was born on July 25, 1926 in Old Mystic, CT In Algonquian hock or hogki means the body. Chief Hockeo’s name was passed down from his great grandfather, to his grandfather, to his father, and finally, to him. Chief Hockeo is a lineal descendant of Francisco Sebastian, son of Tamer Brushel Sebastian (1822-1915) whose obituary states “she had the pure blood of Pequot Indians in her veins”
Chief Hockeo’s parents were Roy Emanuel Sebastian a great deer hunter and leader and Julia Sebastian an artist and mother of seven children. Five of his siblings served on the Eastern Pequot Tribal Council: William Neese Mihtuck (Two Trees) Sub-Chief, Lawrence, Ponoc Reservation Guard, Donald Beseka (Gun) , Winifred (Morning Dove) Mohtompan Wuskuhwhan, Treasurer, Gladys Qunneke, (Doe). Vera Wunnegen Nushawonk (Beautiful Spirit) served as Chair of the Elders Council. Chief Hockeo was married to Virginia, Rose Basket and they had three children. His daughter Katherine, JD. (Wataswan) Nupppe Wequash served as Chairwoman, Patricia, M.D. (Squash Blossom) Askutasquash Peshauau Medicine Woman and Gwendolyn M.Ed. Neese Butterfly (Two Butterflies) Educator. He has six grandchildren: Lily of the Valley, JennaGoQuietly, ThunderBear, Bigeagle, PumpkinSun, Sequoyah: and two great grandchildren: Willow Anumwussukuppe and Ivy Wunnepog.
As former Tribal Chairman (1976-1997) of the Eastern Pequot Tribe, a state recognized tribe, Chief Hockeo declared their tribal sovereignty and fought for tribal rights, lands and people. In 1994 Chief Hockeo was honored by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation at its annual Schemitzum festival for “maintaining their (Eastern Pequot) sovereignty and cultural identity.” In 1996 the Cultural Director of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation honored Chief Hockeo with an eagle- feathered Chief’s headdress. In 1997 at the Eastern Pequot annual meeting Chief Hockeo was declared Sachem for Life. He often led ceremonial and burial services on their historic reservation (established in 1683) and at other community and sacred places.
Chief Hockeo worked with Tribal Council, members, historians, archaeologists, attorneys, tribal, governmental and religious officials to research and collect evidence to support their tribal petition for acknowledgment as a federally recognized tribe by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Department of the Interior (DOI). The tribe sought federal acknowledgment to become eligible for health, education and housing services. Under his leadership the tribe submitted an initial petition in 1978 and received a positive preliminary decision in 2000 and a final positive decision in 2002 declaring the tribe as the historic Eastern Pequot Tribe. The evidentiary collection includes over 70,000 pages. In 2005 after an appeal by the state of Connecticut and 29 towns opposing additional federally recognized tribes and casino development, the US DOI in an unprecedented decision reversed and overturned the Eastern Pequot federal acknowledgement.
The Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation will always possess and exercise its inherent tribal sovereignty.
During his leadership Chief Hockeo worked with his daughter, Tribal Council and members to submit several large successful petitions for grants from the Administration for Native Americans, US Department of Health and Human Services. He is remembered by all who have known him as a well-respected elder who constantly fought for his tribe, land and people praying: “Tabuttantam Manitoo ,Sunnamatta Wetomp? Cowammaunuck.”
(Thank you Creator, Is it not so, dear friend? We love thee.) Painting exhibited at the Institute for Native American Studies, Washington, CT Artist David Wagner. Biographical Sketch -Katherine Sebastian Dring.