Dr. Robert Venables
There have been many treaties and agreements between the Haudenosaunee and the European nations. Guswenta (Two Row Wampum) and the Covenant Chain of Peace were the first of these agreements.
The Guswenta or Two Row Wampum is a metaphor for how the European newcomers and the Haudenosaunee mutually agreed to live in peace while pursuing parallel but separate paths of culture, religion, government and way of life. The ideal of the Guswenta was balanced by the practical solution of the Covenant Chain. The Covenant Chain is explained by Chief Irving Powless Jr. below.
“The Haudenosaunee and our white brothers met again to renew our peace. At this meeting it was decided that 3 links will be created to represent the ideals of Peace, Friendship, and Forever of the Two Row Wampum Belt. First they thought to make the links of rope. But the rope will tear and break. They then thought to make the links of iron; but the iron will rust. They then decided to make the three chain links of silver. The silver needs attention, so every time we meet, it is our duty to polish this Covenant Chain of Friendship. In this way we will keep our agreement fresh between us.”
The Covenant Chain implemented a real-world setting for the metaphor of the Guswenta or Two Row through a series of treaties. These treaties noted how the practical matters of trade would be confirmed by spiritual and political commitments by both sides. The Covenant Chain obligated the newcomers to the Haudenosaunee just as the Covenant Chain obligated the Haudenosaunee to their new allies. The principles of the Covenant Chain are peace and friendship, and these were meant to last forever.