Epic Canoe Trip Being Planned Down Hudson River This Summer for 400th Anniversary of the First Treaty
Excerpts from the website of Two Row Wompum Renewal Campaign
In partnership with the Onondaga Nation, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) has begun developing a major statewide educational campaign to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and European settlers. To this day, our Haudenosaunee neighbors retain the Two Row Wampum Belt on which this treaty was originally recorded. The belt illustrates a mutual, three-part commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel in perpetuity.
Throughout the years, the Haudenosaunee have sought to honor this mutual promise and remind us of our own. In recent years, they have increasingly emphasized that ecological stewardship is a fundamental necessity for this continuing friendship, for a more just peace between peoples and to a sustainable, shared future in parallel. We, the people and governments of the United States and Canada, on the other hand, have too often fallen short on this promised commitment:
- We have repeatedly broken international treaties and written laws to justify and conceal these unjust actions.
- We have forced coercive and unjust policies on our neighbors, usually aimed at further reducing Native Nations’ sovereignty while appropriating more of their lands and resources;
- We have—through governmental, economic, industrial, and social policies and practices—sullied our shared environmental inheritance and committed too few resources to restoring them.
What’s more, too few of us possess even a passing understanding of the tangled history and ongoing present of these injustices perpetuated in our names. The time has come for us to renew our commitment, to learn and acknowledge this ongoing history, to make amends and work for justice. In the words of our Haudenosaunee neighbors, it is high time that the people of the United States and Canada “polish the covenant chain” that will help to ensure a just, peaceful, and livable future for all of us.
In the spirit of the Two Row Wampum, and as concerned peoples of Nations bound by the “Two Row” and scores of subsequent treaties signed on our behalf and subsequently betrayed in our names, we are committed to reinvigorating this powerful vision and renewing this mutual commitment beginning next year and continuing throughout 2013.
We hope to polish this centuries-old covenant chain of friendship between our peoples, and draw more people into the work of extending Indigenous sovereignty over their lands, protecting our shared environmental inheritance, and building support for a just resolution of the several Haudenosaunee Land Rights Actions.
As in the series, “Onondaga Land Rights and Our Common Future,” and our other previous projects, we intend to work in parallel with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the individual Native Nations to educate our governments and fellow citizens about the history of Two Row Wampum, its meaning, and its implications for peace, friendship, environmental responsibility and justice in 2013 and beyond. We are planning a variety of possible events including lectures, concerts, celebrations, historic enactments, and collaborations with related activities that focus on Indigenous Rights, peace-making and environmental healing for all. Please join us.
If you’d like to make a financial contribution, please click here.
Two Row History
The Two Row Wampum belt is the symbolic record of the first agreement between Europeans and American Indian Nations on Turtle Island/North America. 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of this first covenant, which forms the basis for the covenant chain of all subsequent treaty relationships made by the Haudenosaunee and other Native Nations with settler governments on this continent. The agreement outlines a mutual, three-part commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel forever (as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west). Throughout the years, the Haudenosaunee have sought to honor this mutual vision and have increasingly emphasized that ecological stewardship is a fundamental prerequisite for this continuing friendship. Here are links to some documents with more detailed background information.
Two Row History by Rick Hill, Tuscarora artist and historian
On Treaty Making by Chief Irv Powless
Two Row Translation and Context by Robert Venables
1924 New York Times article with Jesse Lyons and the Two Row
The Covenant Chain of Treaties Pt. 1 by Robert Venables
The Covenant Chain of Treaties Pt. 2 by Robert Venables
The Covenant Chain of Treaties Pt. 3 by Robert Venables
The Covenant Chain of Treaties Pt. 4 by Robert Venables
Analysis of the Two Row by Jon Parmenter
Onondaga Nation Chief Irving Powless Jr. displays the two row wampum belt at the Onondaga Land Rights forum at Syracuse Stage. Photo by Mike Greenlar
Epic Canoe Trip
From July 27 – August 9 : Application Deadline Extended to April 2, 2013.
A focal point of the year-long educational and advocacy Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign will be a symbolic “enactment” of the treaty in the summer of 2013. We will bring the treaty to life with Haudenosaunee and other Native People paddling side-by-side with allies and supporters down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City. These two equal, but separate rows will demonstrate the wise, yet simple concept of the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
Fill out an online application:
Application for Haudenosaunee and other Native Peoples
Application for Non-Native Allies
Download an application:
Application for Haudenosaunee and other Native Peoples (pdf)
Application for Non-Native Allies (pdf)
Map and Schedule (pdf)
Learn about paddling
We will begin with a cultural and educational festival in Albany on Saturday, July 27 and the flotilla will set off the following morning. We will paddle between 9 and 15 miles each day and camp along the route. There will be educational and cultural events along the way, some large and others small. The gatherings will feature talks by Haudenosaunee leaders and allies and cultural sharing. The itinerary is still being finalized. The current version is on the attached application, updates will be available on our website.
We will arrive in New York City on Friday, August 9 to participate in the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
The symbolic enactment and related events will draw thousands of people to the Hudson to learn and be inspired to create an equitable and sustainable future for all in the Hudson Valley and beyond. The events will attract tourists as well as residents. We aim to educate and inspire attendees to transform their relationship to the river and all parts of the natural world, incorporating a sense of historic responsibility for the environment and justice for the original inhabitants of this land.
We are looking for Haudenosaunee people, other native people and allies who wish to support the goals of the campaign with their hearts, muscles, sweat and spirit. The paddling (in canoes or kayaks) will be strenuous at times (although we will be paddling with the tide), so participants need to be physically prepared to participate effectively. Paddling experience is recommended, but people who are willing to learn and train before next summer are welcome to apply. The Hudson River is a grand and powerful waterway, so we want to treat it with respect and assure the safety of all who participate.
We estimate the cost of participation to be $30/day/person to cover food, camping and logistical support. Ally Participants (non-Native people) must contribute between $30 and $100 per day of participation. Haudenosaunee and other Native peoples will have their fees covered by the campaign. We will offer suggestions for fundraising and soliciting sponsors to help cover that cost. Limited scholarship funds will be available for those who need them.
We also need people to provide various forms of support along the way, set up for and assist at events, camping and meal sites, make food, help with security, conduct outreach to local communities and much more. If you’d like to assist with those tasks (or to spend some time paddling and some time assisting in other ways), please contact us.
Please fill out the application as completely as you can and submit it to us. The application deadline has been extended to April 2, 2013. You can mail us a hard copy of the application (downloadable above) or complete it online above.
We will review applications in early February and get back to people during that month with an update on developments. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us (315) 701-1592 or via email at: email@example.com.
Expectations and Responsibilities
- All participants must agree to the guidelines established for the trip and follow them during our time together. Failure to comply with these guidelines could result in being asked to leave the flotilla.
- Conscientious effort to abide by the Two Row Wampum during the trip and beyond
- Act respectfully to all we encounter
- No drugs or alcohol
- Work together cooperatively with the team
- Use the good mind to act to achieve the campaign’s goals
- Follow the leadership team’s decisions in the event of a need for last minute changes
- Follow the planned itinerary and design for the enactment
- Act in ways which enhance your safety and that of all participants
- Act as model environmental stewards in our practices for using energy, reducing consumption, reusing, recycling and not polluting
For More Information or Questions, Contact: Hickory Edwards (Onondaga), (315) 775-7548,
Andy Mager, (NOON), 315-701-1592
Two Row Wampum and Covenant Chain of Treaties
Brief History of Haudenosaunee-US Relations
Resources to Learn More
Sign Up Sheet
Onondaga Land Rights
Haudenosaunee Women’s Influence
Taxing Up the Wrong Tree
Wampum in Haudenosaunee Culture
Current Itinerary Map
Application for Haudenosaunee and Other Native Peoples
Application for Non-Native Allies