Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign Completes Journey to United Nations
By Katsitsionni Fox
The Two Row Campaign culminated on August 9th in New York City with an emotional welcome of the paddlers canoeing in on the Hudson River after a long 10-day journey. Hundreds of people were gathered at Pier 96, along with the Unity Riders from Manitoba who had travelled on horse to meet up with the Two Row Paddlers. Leadership including Tadadaho Sid Hill, Oren Lyons, Jake Edwards and Howard “Iothore” Thompson, exchanged a greetings and polished the covenant chain with Dutch Consul-General Rob de Vos and other officials. This agreement of mutual respect between Nations and people is vital today for the survival of our culture and for protection of earth and waters. The campaign to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Europeans included a yearlong educational series.
Lori Quigley was instrumental in the organization of the July 27 Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign Send-off Celebration Festival at Russell Sage College. Presenters, entertainers and vendors were of both Haudenosaunee and Dutch descent. Tom Porter shared the Opening Address and was later presented with a gift of a wooden canoe, hand crafted by the Dutch. Rick Hill presented on the Two Row belt, explaining how the many of the treaty belts were connected. The Akwesasne Women Singers and Pura Fe were among the entertainers. Everyone anxiously awaited the arrival of the Unity Riders, who began their journey in Manitoba and will continue on to Washington D.C. The Unity Riders rode into Troy, N.Y. on horses, also on a journey to spread peace and healing.
The ten-day canoe trip was a huge undertaking. Hickory Edwards from Onondaga was the lead paddler for the journey, and had scouted out the route on kayak the year before. There were 200 – 300 people to feed every day, tents to be erected and taken down. There were some, like me, who went down for a day or two to show support for this historic event. I was impressed by how the Onkwehonwe and Allies worked together, launching kayaks and canoes into the river. Some of the expert paddlers were part of the safety crew and kept watch over the less experienced paddlers. It was tough to keep a straight line in the water, and I have to say the Allies were much better at it. The Onkwehonwe would clump up together at times, I think because we enjoy visiting too much. As we made our way down the river people had time to occasionally visit, sing, and even have some fun water fights. It was a particularly tough day to paddle the day I went, going against the wind, current and waves. We were welcomed for lunch half way, at the Marlboro Yacht Club. The support of the communities along the way was amazing. After a meeting with all the paddlers, it was decided that only the more experienced paddlers would paddle the rest of the way for safety reasons. While most of us were transported by boat to the festival taking place in Beacon, N.Y., a core group paddled the rest of the way. I was exhausted after that day of paddling and I am inspired by those that paddled for the entire 10 day journey, including three young men from Akwesasne, Dillon Point, Arawiio Swamp and Jarred John.
The paddlers marched with a large group of supporters across Manhattan to the United Nations. The room at the U.N. was filled to commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, greeted the people present and acknowledged those present representing the Two Row. Oren Lyons gave a powerful and eloquent presentation on the history of the Two Row Wampum and its importance today. There is already buzz amongst the paddlers to journey to Washington, D.C.
“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.” For more information visit http://honorthetworow.org/about/.