ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign begins


14 February 2013
Renewal Campaign begins

by Chris Sabas

five hundred people filled a venue in Syracuse, New York, Haudenosaunee territory, to witness
the launch of the highly anticipated Two Row Wampum
Renewal Campaign
among them CPTers Hannah Redekop and Chris Sabas.

  Crowd applauds after presentation of twenty-five projects carried
out in the spirit of the 1613 Two-Row Wampum agreement
between the Haudenausonee nations and European settlers.

The diverse
crowd of Haudenosaunee, as well as other indigenous and non-indigenous,
listened to a traditional Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address delivered by Tadodaho Sid
watched a presentation of approximately twenty-five projects that work in the
spirit of the Two Row, culminating in a standing ovation; saw an empowering
presentation of history by Onondaga Chief Jake Edwards, featuring
three replica wampum belts; and took in a multimedia presentation about the

Chief Edwards
recited an abridged version of the Great Law of Peace, which is the foundation
for the Two Row Wampum, derived from Haudenosaunee oral tradition.  Oral teachings are “constantly speaking to
our bodies, hearts and minds,” said Edwards. 

He showed the
audience the ‘Unity Belt,’ also known as the ‘Confederacy Belt,’ which has now
become the well known Haudenosaunee flag. 
At one time, no flag existed, because “we know who we are.” Edwards went on to explain that when the
Haudensaunee lacrosse team began to compete internationally, they would present
the Unity Belt, citing that “this is our recognition,” which came from the
Great Law of Peace.  “Every row, every
bead has explanations to it… protocols, procedures, ceremony, [and] a decision
making process for the council of chiefs [to follow].”

Eventually, it
became clear that the “newcomers” in the East “were not going home.” Edwards
explained that his people agreed to share “their house,” the forest.  Based upon the Great Law of Peace, each would
be respectful of everything before and around, to only take from Mother Earth
that which is needed to survive.  The Two
Row Wampum represents the understanding that the two were to live side by side,
along the River of Life, and to not interfere with each other’s ways, cultures,
songs, ceremonies nor to pass laws onto each other.  Edwards described the Two Row as an agreement
in “trade, peace, [and] friendship forever.”

As violations and
encroachments onto Haudensaunee territory intensified, Edwards explained, his
people reminded their “brothers” of their Covenant Chain of Friendship, initiated
when ships first arrived.  The Mohawk
greeted the first arrivals and shared food, teachings and their ways.  So that the relationship would not rust or
fall apart, the Chain was described as one of silver, not steel, because silver
“can be easily polished.”  This explains
why the Haudenosaunee and their allies are “polishing” the covenant chain of
friendship via the renewal campaign.

emphasize the campaign is not just about the past; but the present and the
future. Article 6, Clause 2 to the U.S.
Constitution states that all treaties are considered “Supreme law of the land.”
Yet oral traditions are not honored under the Doctrine of Discovery.  Future team releases will touch on the
doctrine and the Two Row campaign.

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