In hopes of commemorating the first agreement made by their ancestors 400 years ago, the Haudenosaunee Paddlers started a journey earlier this month to Albany carrying a replica of the Two Row Wampum belt.
The wampum belt is a record that signifies “peace, friendship and forever” between the members of the Haudenosaunee, now known as the Iroquois Confederacy, and the Dutch settlers. The treaty has been renewed each time ownership changed between its settlers.
“As long as Mother Earth is in existence, we will have this treaty,” said Hickory Edwards at the Little Falls Rotary Park Marina on Tuesday.
Edwards, nine other paddlers and their dog Huxley stopped for lunch at the marina as part of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign before getting back in their canoe or kayak to travel on toward the lock at St. Johnsville.
The group is traveling along the traditional waterways their ancestors would have used when meeting with the Dutch for the treaty.
According to its website, the first leg of the journey started on July 2 from the Onondaga nation’s capital, just outside of Syracuse. The group has traveled across the waterways with stops at Bayberry, Oneida Shores State Park, Paradise Cove, Rome and Utica. The group plans to arrive on July 14 in Albany, where they Haudenosaunee first met with the Dutch settlers.
They will continue with the second leg of their journey on or around July 27 to head down the Hudson River along with an estimated 200 paddlers to New York City.
Edwards said the journey is “retracing the steps of our ancestors.” He said descendants of the Iroquois Confederacy have joined them along the way, including Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk and Seneca.
“This isn’t just about the past, it’s about the future, as well, since the wampum goes on forever,” said Lindsay Speer, media coordinator and steering committee member of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign.
Speer said this journey is the “flagship event” of a yearlong commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum.
“It brings the imagery to life of how it was back then,” Speer said during a telephone interview on Tuesday.
During the stop at the Little falls marina, Edwards talked about the symbolism on the wampum belt, how the two dark blue rows represent the two parties in the agreement and the three white beads between the two represent the purity of “peace, friendship and forever.”
“It’s important for all of us to coexist peacefully together and to respect the laws of nature,” said Speer.
For more information, go to www.honorthetworow.org.