Starting July 27th, over 200 Native and non-Native paddlers will paddle side-by-side together down the Hudson River from Albany to NYC, bringing to life the imagery of the Two Row Wampum, the record of the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the first European settlers, the Dutch.  This treaty is over 400 years old this year, and the paddlers travel to remind people that it is just as relevant now as it was then. The Haudenosaunee still live here.

 Key to the agreement of lasting peace and friendship are the instructions to respect each others’ sovereignty, and to respect the laws of nature.  As climate change induced flooding ravages upstate NY, and the drillers knock at NY’s door, the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign’s tagline “Honor Native Treaties to Protect the Earth” is particularly timely.   It is an increasingly urgent refrain throughout similar Indigenous walks, paddles, and protests across North America, such as Idle No More and the Dakota Unity Riders from Manitoba, Canada, who will be riding horseback parallel to the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign paddlers down the Hudson.

 The paddlers will land in NYC on August 9th, arriving at Pier 96 around 10 AM and then will walk across Manhattan to the United Nations, for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.  A festival is being planned on August 10th, 11am-5pm, at Brookfield Place/World Financial Center in NYC.  Other events are happening along the length of the Hudson River, timed with the arrival of the paddlers.

 The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign was first suggested by organizers of a non-Native ally group known as Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON) in 2011, having learned the history and meaning of the Two Row Wampum, and feeling a responsibility to share this information with other New Yorkers.  The agreement is the basis for all subsequent diplomacy with the Dutch, English, and United States, including George Washington’s 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. Many of the conflicts between New York State and Native Nations come from a lack of understanding of this agreement.

 The campaign is a joint project of NOON and the Onondaga Nation, with people from all six Haudenosaunee nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora) participating, as well as people from 20 other Native nations and residents from across NY State and beyond.  Over 85 organizations have co-sponsored the campaign, and the honorary advisory committee include Bill McKibben, Jane Goodall, Pete Seeger, Leonard Peltier, Oren Lyons, Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney, Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor, and many others. 

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