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The Two Row Wampum Treaty Belt



A fundamental belief of Onkwehonwe is coexistence.

Tekeni Teiohate’ Wateriwihse’aonhon

(Whiteman ‘Raseron:ni’ and the Onkwehon:we shall walk in their separate paths.)

This is demonstrated in wampum belts, treaties or agreements drawn between two or more parties. The Two Row Wampum belt gives an accurate portrayal of what it means to coexist with nature. It comes from the Haudenosaunee peoples and is considered the Grandfather of all belts because there is no end to it.

The agreement arose out of concern for the sustainability of Mother Earth. The two purple lines represent the separate and distinct paths of North America’s First Peoples and the settler society, each with their own culture to maintain while traveling along the same river of life. The three white lines represent the River of Life or the shared territory.

Each nation is to keep their separate and distinct cultures, while working together to maintain the lands they share and the earth that sustains all. Biodiversity is a modern term for the same principles of coexistence found in the Two Row Wampum belt agreement.

The Two Row applies to all relationships. Male and female. Humans and Natural World. Spirit and body. Families to other families. Peoples to other Peoples. In the case of Europeans, the Two Row symbolized mutual aid and defense based on Friendship.

International Treaties: Quite often we hear about the Guswentah or Tekeni Teiohate more commonly referred to as The Two Row Wampum Treaty. This treaty made between the Nation of Holland and the Five Nations may have been the first treaty between Onkwehonwe and a European nation, but it was certainly not the first treaty that the Onkwehonwe had ever entered into, in fact Onkwehonwe nations have been engaged in the treaty making process between them for centuries.

The formation of the Kaianerekowa (Great Law of Peace) is a fine example of possibly one of the most highly advanced Peace treaties ever negotiated between sovereign nations. The agreements reached between each of the Five Nations in order to put an end to the conflict that they had been embroiled in, as well as enable each nation to retain their sovereignty and jurisdiction is beyond anything seen in the history of mankind.

The first 12 Wampums (Capitulations) of the Kaianerekowa (Charter) lays out the procedures and protocol for each nation to follow in order to resolve any issues that may threaten one or all of the Five Nations.

These 12 articles also guarantees the jurisdiction and sovereignty of each individual nation so that each nation shall have a forum to voice their position.