A 13-day trip down the Hudson River was successful in bringing the message of the Two Row Wampum to some New Yorkers who may not have known about it, according to organizers.
The idea behind the trip was to make non-native people aware of the agreement between Native Americans and European settlers, and how the ideals embodied in that Two Row Wampum agreement are relevant today. This year is the 400th anniversary of the agreement. Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs says there were warm welcomes from everyone who watched the paddlers go by.
Edwards said that the message of the Two Row Wampum:
"Is to say that what's in the forest for our survival is for all of us. Equally. And you only take from the forest what you need to survive. These concepts have to be reestablished because corporations are taking more than what they need to survive and the United State's government is backing them, so they have to be reeducated on survival."
Edwards added that it's important people know about the environmental issues that are the essence of the belt.
"It's just a matter of getting more ears to pay attention to what had happened a long time ago. The policies have to change to protect Mother Earth, and protecting the water, especially the water," he said. Among the issues the Two Row Wampum Campaign is fighting against now is hydrofracking, a method of extracting natural gas from deposits deep in the earth.
Nearly 500 people paddled from Albany to New York City, carrying a replica of the Two Row Wampum Belt, which was the first agreement between the Haudenosaunee and European settlers. This canoe trip is part of a year-long Two Row Wampum Renewal campaign.