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.
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