Niagara Treaty Wampum Agreements

Kaswentha (The Two Row Wampum)

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Replica of Two Row Wampum made by Ken Maracle. Image courtesy Aboriginal Education Centre, TDSB.

Non-Interference

Haudenosaunee leaders gave Britain the Two Row Wampum Belt to establish a relationship between settlers and First Nations that was characterized by non-interference. Williams describes the law of the Two Row Wampum in Borrows (1997): “There are two rows of purple, and those two rows have the spirit of your ancestors and mine.  There are three beads of wampum separating the two rows and they symbolize peace, friendship and respect.  These two rows will symbolize two paths or two vessels, traveling down the same river together.  One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian people, their laws, their customs and their ways.  The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs, and their ways.  We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat.  Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel.”  When honouring the Two Row Wampum, our actions cannot interfere with our treaty partners’ ability to speak their languages and to practice their laws, their ways of knowing and their cultural and spiritual traditions.  

References

Borrows, J. (1997).  Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History, and Self-Government. In Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference.Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 155-172.  https://www.sfu.ca/~palys/Borrows-WampumAtNiagara.pdf 

Borrows, J. & Coyle, M. (2017). The Right Relationship Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 62.

Chiefs of Ontario (2014). 250 th Anniversary of the Treaty of Niagara. http://www.chiefs-of-ontario.org/node/920

Gehl, L. (2013). Canada’s Constitutional Beginnings Through Wampum. Retrieved from https://www.lynngehl.com/black-face-blogging/canadas-constitutional-beginnings-through-wampum

Switzer, M. (2011). We are all Treaty People. Union of Ontario Indians.