Haudenosaunee Renew Two Row Wampum With Dutch

Kenneth Deer

The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign landed in The Netherlands.

In a ceremony under a Tree of Peace in the center of the Hague, Onondaga Faithkeeper Oren Lyons presented a replica of the Two Row Wampum to the Ambassador for Human Rights of the government of the Netherlands.

Lyons said, “The Dutch were the first to come to our territories and request a trade agreement. Our leaders observed that you were not going home any time soon. They suggested that rather than just a trade agreement, we should establish a relationship. This resulted in the Guswenta (the Two Row Wampum treaty). You in your ship and we in our canoe flowing side by side down the river of life in Peace, Friendship, for as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, as long as the waters flow downhill, and as long as the grass grows green. This is the grandfather of all subsequent treaties in North America.”

Ambassador Lionel Veer gratefully accepted the wampum, and said that the wampum represents what is possible between two nations. "It is important to be reminded of peace at this time. It requires hard work. Not only by world leaders, but in particular by the common people. Because peace is in their hands. "

The Ambassador also said that there will always be a good relationship between the Haudenosaunee and the Netherlands.

The location could not be more appropriate. The Tree of Peace was planted there in 2006 by the late Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp, founder of the Tree of Peace Society. Swamp toured the world spreading the teachings of the Haudenosaunee.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first agreements between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch, represented by the Two Row Wampum. Like the Tree of Peace, the Two Row is a powerful symbol.

The ceremony was led by the Moluccans, an Indigenous People from Islands in the Pacific, who were colonized by the Dutch and later invaded by Indonesia. With drums and the blowing of a conch shell, they marched in their traditional regalia followed by a long cloth banner with two purple rows representing the Two Row, with the words ‘Honor Native Treaties and Protect the Earth.’

Following behind was the Haudenosaunee delegation of Lyons, and Mohawks Joe Deom and Kenneth Deer. Behind them were a number of supporters and observers.

The march stopped in front of the Tree of Peace on a small knoll in a park. With the banner as a backdrop, a large drum with two drummers was at the center of the event. After a welcome chant and speech in Moluccan, the Haudenosaunee delegation was invited by name to stand inside a ceremonial circle drawn on the ground.

Each of the delegates was welcomed by the Master of Ceremonies of the Moloccans and placed a red bandana around their shoulders. In response, Oren Lyons accepted the welcome and Joe Deom burned tobacco at the foot of the Tree of Peace.

Then others were invited into the circle and presented offerings around the drum such as corn, water, a pipe, documents, and other items. A talking stick was passed around the circle, and each person gave a short speech expressing words of encouragement.

Before concluding, the Tree of Peace was nurtured with offerings of tobacco and water.

It was at this point that the Two Row Wampum was given to the Ambassador.

“This ceremony was very important to keep the Covenant Chain polished between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch,” said Lyons. “with the Ambassador representing the government of the Netherlands.”

Joe Deom added, “I asked the Ambassador to put the wampum in a prominent place to remind everyone of our history and relationship.”

The ceremony was organized by the Netherlands Center for Indigenous Peoples, whose director is Leo van der Vlist.

The Haudenosaunee delegation returned to Geneva, Switzerland, where their journey originated, to resume attending a Symposium on Indigenous Peoples at the UN. That same evening they were received by the Mayor of Geneva at an official reception commemorating Cayuga Chief Deskahe’s journey to Geneva in 1924, when he addressed the City of Geneva by invitation of the Mayor.

In 1977, the Haudenosaunee traveled again to Geneva, to march with the Indigenous Peoples of the Western hemisphere to the United Nations in the now historic event that was the second step in establishing the relationship between the Indigenous Peoples of the world and the United Nations.

From 1613 to 2013, the Haudenosaunee has been involved in international agreements and events with European powers and it continues to do so into the future.

Kenneth Deer, Mohawk, is a freelance journalist, the former publisher and editor of The Eastern Door newspaper, 2010 National Aboriginal Achievement Award Winner for Media, member of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, and Chief Administrative Officer of Indigenous World Association, an NGO with UN consultative status.