“Our ancestors made this great agreement on our behalf 400 years ago. Now is the time for us to think about the people living in the next 400 years.” – Hickory Edwards (Onondaga Nation)
Long ago when the colonial peoples were seizing possession of the land they would come to call North America, they entered into sworn agreements with the human beings who already occupied the land. The Two Row Treaty, the first of those solemn agreements, is as of 2013 now 400 years old.
To serve as a permanent record of the treaty, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people wove a belt of beads made from wampum sea shells, their traditional way of recording sacred agreements, a means more elegant and enduring than the fragile sheets of paper marked with ink that the colonial settlers used.
Commemoration of that treaty is reaching a crescendo late this summer with an elaborate series of lectures, concerts, celebrations, historic enactments, and collaborations planned by The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign.
The intention is to polish this centuries-old covenant chain of friendship, to protect our shared environmental inheritance, and to build support for resolution of various land rights actions.
The call to honor the treaty comes in the context of perfect faithlessness. The USA has broken or violated every single one of the nearly 500 legally binding treaties it has entered into with various Native nations.
Thus, the Two Row Wampum campaign has resounding karmic implications for peace, friendship, environmental responsibility and justice.
In recent years, Native peoples have increasingly emphasized that ecological stewardship is a fundamental necessity for this continuing friendship, for a more just peace between peoples, and for a sustainable, shared future in parallel on the land we inhabit together.