Today in Canandaigua NY, there is a celebration and commemoration of the Canandaigua (or Timothy Pickering) Treaty. Over two hundred years ago there was a historic treaty between two sovereigns in 1794, the United States and the Haudenosaunee.
Back in 1794, President George Washington had many issues that were pressing this new government called the United States. One of those issues included the westward expansion of the country. By defeating the British, the United States mistakenly interpreted that action as defeating the indigenous people in North America. So native nations began the struggle to retain their way of life. One such nation was the Miami who was lead by Little Turtle. Little Turtle fought against the United States in the Ohio valley against “westward expansion” and in one battle the United States military suffered its highest human casualty loss against a native nation (this includes the Battle at Little Big Horn). As Little Turtle’s War raged on, President George Washington didn’t want the Haudenosaunee to join with Little Turtle’s forces.
In the summer of 1794, United States agent Timothy Pickering was sent to Canandaigua to represent the United States in the quest for peace and friendship between our two nations. The Haudenosaunee chiefs were there to negotiate. After months of daily negotiations, the United States and the Haudenosaunee signed an historic treaty.
For the United States, the Canandaigua Treaty promised that the Haudenosaunee would not fight in any more wars against the United States, new lands were acquired for their citizens, they have the only right to purchase Haudenosaunee lands, and safe travel and trade routes established.
For the Haudenosaunee, the Canandaigua Treaty promised that the United States would not bother the Haudenosaunee and their friends, the U.S. will not claim Haudenosaunee lands, we will have free use of lands, a yearly gift “to promote the future welfare of the Six Nations”, a peaceful way to settle our disputes, and a recognition that the Haudenosaunee is a sovereign nation.
This treaty between the United States and the Haudenosaunee continues today. Both governments call upon Article VII to settle disputes between us, and every year, the United States continues to send their gift of “Treaty Cloth” to promote peace between us.
The Canandaigua Treaty seems especially poignant as the United States has recently elected a new leader, Barack Obama. During his campaign, he has already reached out to the Onondaga Nation to continue the government to government relations, which of course, is what the Haudenosaunee and United States leaders from long ago would be happy to hear is still continuing on today.
(click on images to enlarge)
Read the Complete Treaty