Two Row Campaign to Polish the Covenant Chain

From the October 2012 PNL #818

Sue Eiholzer & Andy Mager

“As members of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign’s 2012 Trial Run set off down the Hudson River on July 31, solidarity was in the air—solidarity not just among the people but also for the River,” wrote NOON activist Aya Yamamoto for the September Onondaga Nation newsletter. “The sweat that fell into the water under the August sun as we paddled 53 miles from Saugerties to Popolopen Creek bore our pledge to each other and to the land,” she continued.

Aya writes about an important step in the development of our statewide campaign to mark the beginning of the “Covenant Chain of Treaties.”

NOON, the Onondaga Nation and our many partners, plan to share the inspirational vision of the Two Row: peoples of very different backgrounds and cultures living sustainably together forever, in peace and friendship. We believe these values are a moral responsibility in our lives today. Justice requires that we acknowledge our indigenous neighbors, our shared history and future, and our shared environment.

Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation has a 13-year history of educational efforts to build a positive bridge between the Onondaga and the Central New York community. This Campaign is a logical next step in our efforts, taking the understanding which has been built here in Central New York throughout the state. The purpose of our Two Row Renewal Campaign is to make New York residents aware of this powerful vision, a concept which points us toward a sustainable and equitable future for all of us, including justice for the Haudenosaunee, who continue as our neighbors to this day.

 

Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs meeting paddlers coming in to Kingston. Photo: Andrew Courtney

In February, 2013 the Campaign will kick off with an educational event featuring the Two Row Treaty at Syracuse Stage, similar to those held during NOON’s Onondaga Land Rights and Our Common Future Series. A summer event at Onondaga Lake will include a pre-enactment paddle across Onondaga Lake with music and speakers at Willow Bay. Our year will end with a social event in November or December to recap the year’s events and chart a direction for the future. Various organizations are partnering with NOON—such as educational institutions, cultural centers and community groups—to hold events throughout New York during 2013 to highlight the Two Row Treaty and its values.

A focal point of the campaign will be a symbolic “enactment” of the treaty with Haudenosaunee people and allies paddling side-by-side down the Hudson River in the summer of 2013. The 12-day trip will start in Albany, NY with a festival in late July and end in New York City on the United Nations Day of Indigenous Peoples on August 9th, with a larger commemoration the next day. Along the way, educational and cultural events featuring Haudenosaunee leaders will generate considerable publicity.

A recent Post-Standard article (August 9) highlighted criticism from a handful of scholars who dispute the validity of the Two Row. NOON is well aware of this position, but accepts the Haudenosaunee oral history which has consistently referred to this treaty for nearly 400 years. Other scholars find sufficient evidence to substantiate this perspective. More importantly, the focus of this campaign is creating an equitable, sustainable and peaceful future based on our understanding of the past.

What You Can Do!

• Help organize the three events planned for Central New York.
• Donate funds and/or help raise money to support the campaign.
• Contact friends in the Capital District, Hudson Valley and New York metro area to share information.
• Spread information about the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and more.

The powerful vision of the Two Row, two peoples living in peace and friendship but respecting one another’s sovereignty, can inspire people throughout New York State to consider the debt we owe to the original inhabitants of this land and how we can restore respect for the natural laws which support all life. We are confident that by “Polishing the Covenant Chain,” the people of New York State can become leaders in promoting innovative public policies that drive positive ecological and social change.

Learn more about the Two Row Wampum Campaign and how you can be a part of this exciting future at www.HonorTheTwoRow.org.

Sue and Andy are longtime NOON members. Sue coordinates the outreach committee for the Two Row and Andy serves as the campaign coordinator.

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