The White Stone Canoe Project
With foundations in the traditional teachings of the Haudenosaunee and the truthful history of the pre-colonial era to present we will be using the three foundations of the Great Law (Peace, Power, and Righteousness) to actively share the comprehensive and important dialogue regarding the two row wampum agreement of 1613.
In using this method we will bridge understanding between all peoples on Turtle Island and beyond by helping them find their own voices through Identity, and the power of pre-colonial agreements and Indigenous knowledge which belong to both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people alike. Therefore it is our duty to educate all people regardless of their color, creed, race, etc. in order to become a new whole society.
A Solidarity Project
It will always be the intention to help all people understand who we are and where we come from as Haudenosaunee people. The ways of life and views of the universe are vast and diverse compared to that of the Western culture that depends so much on gain and wealth. To help better understand these things myself, I have journeyed into the world of Western Education and graduated going on to be an educator myself and found many with the same viewpoints with the next seven generations in mind; and now have begun an allied advancement on decolonization.
The way I had seen it for a long time if for the truth to be told, I needed to get into a place that never usually tells it to begin with, the education system. This was a choice that I had made at a young age, maybe nine years old, and the ways I educate people have evolved many times over the years. Now it is a time where both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples alike relearn their roles and responsibilities in upholding true rule of law, which is precolonial in nature; revisiting the Two Row at every turn.
The Two Row Wampum
In 1613, the Mohawks noticed people coming into their territory unannounced. The visitors had begun to cut trees and clear land for their homes and farms. They had entered the lands of the Haudenosaunee and were now occupying some of their empty rooms (land). The newcomers dressed oddly and had hair on their faces. They had iron pots and pans and had their families with them. These people needed a place to live. The Mohawks sent a runner to Onondaga to convene a meeting of the Haudenosaunee.
At the meeting it was discussed that a delegation must travel to where these people had settled to determine their intentions. It was difficult for the delegation. The people they met spoke in a language they hadn’t heard before. It took much time and patience for the two people to begin to communicate.
After many discussions, it was decided that the Haudenosaunee and the Europeans must have a way to greet each other when they meet. The settlers with their large sailed boat thought that they should be called “Father” and the Haudenosaunee “Son.” The Haudenosaunee said that this would not do. “We shall address each other as ‘Brothers.’ This shows that we are equal to each other.”
As the Haudenosaunee and Dutch discovered much about each other, an agreement was made as to how they were to treat each other and live together. Each of their ways would be shown in the purple rows running the length of a wampum belt. “In one row is a ship with our White Brothers’ ways; in the other a canoe with our ways. Each will travel down the river of life side by side. Neither will attempt to steer the other’s vessel.”
The Haudenosaunee and the Dutch agreed on three principles to make this treaty last. The first was friendship; the Haudenosaunee and their white brothers will live in friendship. The second principle is peace; there will be peace between their two people. The final principle is forever; that this agreement will last forever.
The Dutch recorded this agreement on paper with three silver chains. Iron chains would not do because iron rusts and breaks over time. Silver, on the other hand, can be polished and renewed when the brothers meet. The Haudenosaunee and the Dutch agreed to call this the Silver Covenant Chain of Friendship.
The Haudenosaunee explained to the Dutch that they did not use paper to record their history. They would make belts made of white and purple wampum shells. The Haudenosaunee made a belt to record this agreement. The belt has two purple rows running alongside each other representing two boats. One boat is the canoe with the Haudenosaunee way of life, laws, and people. The other is the Dutch ship with their laws, religion, and people in it. The boats will travel side by side down the river of life. Each nation will respect the ways of each other and will not interfere with the other. “Together we will travel in Friendship and in Peace Forever; as long as the grass is green, as long as the water runs downhill, as long as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and as long as our Mother Earth will last.”
Importance of Kaswentha today
The Haudenosaunee see the Two Row Wampum as a living treaty; a way that they have established for their people to live together in peace; that each nation will respect the ways of the other as they meet to discuss solutions to the issues that come before them.
Education and Action For The Next Seven Generations
In preserving tradition, it means going out onto the land and seeing, recording, and telling the truth about everything that is happening and now is a time more important than ever. One intention is to mobilise with a van equipped to go anywhere we are needed, loaded with any resources that may be helpful including gifts in exchange for knowledge.
All of this will be brought back to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, the Birthplace of the Great Peacemaker Deganawida to be preserved and protected for the rest of time and ready to be deployed at any time to protect the Great Peace and all the people of Turtle Island.
Our goal is to preserve as many voices and truthful history as possible by creating a space where all can come to learn at their own pace and are welcome to ask as many questions as possible, because the answers are endless.
In this space there will be a resource area where people can come to see treaties on paper and wampum belts, different artefacts, and be witness to living culture through social dances and traditional feasts provided by indigenous chefs; sourcing all fruit and vegetables, etc. on site and working with traditional hunters, gatherers, medicine holders, and knowledge keepers.
Also, a place where people can come for regular classes based in the Great Law of Peace and the traditional ways of the Haudenosaunee peoples. The intention is to gain as much access to information as possible in order to carry on the prophecy of the Peacemaker to have everyone in the world observe the power of peace and riotousness through creation and thanksgiving.
In order for this to happen, Kevin Guyan and I have formed an Indigenous Solidarity Project called the White Stone Canoe Projects which consist of everything from news, entertainment, education, to consultation on solidarity moments involving Indigenous people, more with a focus on decolonization and putting the cultural lens back on to start seeing things the way our ancestors have; rising up in peaceful civil disobedience according to original laws, Kayanere'kowa. Everything will continue to be documented on the Indigenous Education, News, and Entertainment website The Credible Mohawk. Donations contributed will also go toward the access to historical and educational journals and extensive research which will be shared for all to access; this will also support audio/video production and the ability to share resources.
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