Sidney Hill, Tadodaho
“We have always been told that when we make decisions that we have to look to seven generations and see how those decisions will affect those people,” Hill said. “In the past few years, we have been connecting with the people, the grassroots people, the activists, the leadership, wherever we can, to do anything that will make the environment better than what it is now.”
Jake Edwards, of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, said “What we hope to achieve in this journey is to educate the people so that they do their part, individually, as peoples, to protect mother earth and all the waters that flow for future generations.”
“Each line of the wampum belt represents each of our laws, governments, languages, cultures, our ways of life,” Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs explains. “It is agreed that we will travel together, side by each, on the river of life… linked by peace, friendship, forever. We will not try to steer each others’ vessels.”
“The Two Row is the oldest and is the grandfather of all subsequent treaties,” said Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation’s Turtle Clan who has represented the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy in world councils at the United Nations and elsewhere.
“The words ‘as long as the sun shines, as long as the waters flow downhill, and as long as the grass grows green’ can be found in many treaties after the 1613 treaty,” Lyons said. “It set a relationship of equity and peace. This campaign is to remind people of the importance of the agreements.”
“Indian nations’ agreements always were inclusive,” said Lyons. “They encompass not only the human elements of life but all life. So protection of the commons was inherent in all these agreements. The commons are what belong to one and all – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we live on. And today, we see the necessity for those protections.”
“An important aspect of this agreement was that we live in the river of life and we all need to take care of it,” reminds Freida Jacques, Clanmother of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation. “The environment was a part of this agreement.”
Tonya Gonnella Frichner
“Twenty-thirteen, the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum agreement, is a good time to revisit together our past and future relationships both as peoples and nations,” said Tonya Gonella Frichner, an Onondaga who heads the American Indian Law Alliance.
Andy Mager, a leader in Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) and Project Coordinator for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, said “We see the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum as an opportunity to educate about our treaty obligations, Indigenous rights, and environmental issues, particularly regarding fracking and climate change.”
“This treaty is not just about the past,” explains Lindsay Speer, a non-Native ally and member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, “it is about the future as well. Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states that treaties are the supreme law of the land. Understanding and honoring the Two Row Wampum can improve relations between our peoples and remind us of our responsibilities to the Earth which we all share. We need this now more than ever.”