Pow-Wow protectors help save historic Lowell oak
By Jennifer Myers
It was a crusade that began three years ago.
George Koumantzelis and a small group of “Pow-Wow Oak Protectors” made it their mission to save a 320-year-old oak tree on Clark Road in the city’s Belvidere neighborhood.
This is no ordinary tree.
It is said to have been the spot where, cloaked in its protective shade, the Wamesit Indians made decisions, engaged in diplomacy, war, trade and discussions of their spiritual direction.
The Minutemen, on their way to Concord to spark a revolution on April 19, 1775, marched by
its mighty limbs.
Koumantzelis, who grew up in Belvidere and returned a few years ago to care for his mother, and
his group were successful in proving the tree sits on city-owned land.
Pow-Wow Protectors unveil granite marker commemorating historic oak.
The City Council voted to protect the tree in perpetuity, allowing the parcel to be marked and
placing restrictions on its use.
The PowWow Oak Protectors raised money to have a monument erected on the site, engaging in a
public — and at times ugly — battle with the Tewksbury Historical Society, which originally served as the group’s fiscal agent.
That relationship was severed by a judge and the Protectors soldiered on.
Chief Onkwe Tase
Also in attendance were members of the local Native American community, including Chief
Onkwe Tase, an Iroquois Elder of the Mohawk Turtle Clan.
Society and an attorney who stood by the Pow-Wow Oak Protectors in their crusade;
David O’ Heir, grandson of Albert O’Heir, who saved the tree in 1909; historian Eugene Winter;
local arborist John Coppinger, who assessed the health of the tree and provided suggestions for
its continued care; Dave Desmarais, a local surveyor who assisted the group in delineating the
boundaries of the property; Edward O’Keefe, a Native American and member of the Pow-Wow
last of the unroaded and undeveloped wildness is given over to dreams of profit, maybe it will
Jennifer Myers has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. A former reporter at The Sun for more than a decade, she now works as an aide to Mayor Patrick Murphy. A history buff, Jennifer can often be found combing through old newspaper clippings and documents at the Pollard Library or rummaging through the attic of City Hall to uncover pieces of Lowell’s past. You can read more of Jennifer’s Mill City musings on her popular blog Room 50.