Among certain North American Indian peoples inhabiting areas of what is now Virginia: (a title of respect for) one of the leaders or senior members of a tribe, (sometimes) specifically one who serves as a councillor or adviser; (also more generally) a person considered impressive or worthy of respect. Hence also adopted by colonists in this region, sometimes specifically to designate an official in the colonial administration.
The role of a cockarouse in these North American Indian peoples and how it related to that of a werowance appears to have varied.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in John Smith. From Virginia Algonquian Cawcawwassough, denoting one of the elders of the Chickahominy people, probably ultimately from an East Algonquian base with the sense ‘to speak’ + a suffix forming agent nouns.