Speakers Teach Students about Native American Treaty Renewal Campaign
By Todd Sorenson, Social Studies teacher at Fayetteville-Manlius High School
On Wednesday 1/15 the high school’s Archaeology Club hosted guest speakers from the Two-Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, an organization dedicated to peace and justice. Over the summer, the Two-Row group organized hundreds of Native American and non-Native “allies” in a canoe trip down the Hudson River to raise awareness of Native American treaty rights. The trip took place during the 400th anniversary of the 1613 agreement between the indigenous Haudenosaunee and Dutch, the first Europeans to settle in what would eventually become New York. The paddle ended with a march in New York City and recognition of the group at the United Nations.
Campaign organizers met with about eighty FMHS students to discuss the need for a renewal of the original Two-Row Treaty agreement. “The Two-Row is essentially an equal sign,” said Hickory Edwards, referring to the two parallel rows on the treaty wampum, symbolizing the parallel paths of the Haudenosaunee and the colonists. Other rows on the wampum symbolize “peace, friendship, and forever.”
“You’re still here. We’re still here. This agreement is still valid,” noted Edwards, one of the campaign’s key organizers.
Another main organizer and “ally,” Andy Mager discussed the goals of the two-week paddle down the Hudson. “We called it a renewal campaign… to teach people about [the treaty] and to live up to our end of it,” referring to the repeated violations of the Two-Row and similar agreements over past centuries. The campaign also stressed the need for sustainable use of the land and resources of New York State.
A third speaker, FMHS junior Bryanna Patinka, talked about her experience participating in the paddle over the summer and visiting the United Nations. “The paddle was one of the best experiences of my life. I am so happy that I was able to share everything I learned with other students.”
Students learned that it is never too early to get involved in causes they are passionate about. Freshman Joe Falcone commented on Bryanna’s example, “I learned that I, even a high-schooler, would be able to help people with a problem they face today.”