Washington, DC – On February 22nd 2016 a delegation of Haudenosaunee Chiefs and Clanmothers and observers met with federal representatives. The meeting was held in the Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building a few doors from the White House. The meeting was to recognize and honor the signing of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua.
Our protocols were followed as was expected by our history with the United States. Chief Howard Thompson began with an Opening Address and then followed by Words of Condolence as is our custom when meeting with another Nation. One of the United States’ representatives then spoke words of condolence to us. Finally the Invitation Wampum was returned signifying that the two parties have agreed to begin our meeting.
Robert Antone began by explaining the Silver Covenant Chain. The Chain is three silver links that binds our white brothers and the Haudenosaunee in Peace, and Friendship forever. Robert reminded us that when our two Nations meet, we are polishing the chain and that we should do this more frequently.
Faithkeeper Oren Lyons spoke about the Canandaigua Treaty. That the time of the treaty, the United States was in its infancy and needed peace, not war. So George Washington reached out to us with his agent, Timothy Pickering to secure peace on the western frontier. In doing so, the United States recognized the Haudenosaunee as a powerful Nation with its own laws and governance. Faithkeeper Oren Lyons reminded us that this treaty was not only ratified by the United States Congress, but also by George Washington who presented us with a 6 foot wampum belt, The George Washington Belt, to sanction the treaty in the ways of the Haudenosaunee.
Tadadaho Sid Hill then thanked our hosts for this meeting. Tadadaho then requested further meetings in the near future to discuss those items that have cause the Silver Covenant Chain to be tarnished, one of these being the border issue.
Then federal representatives Mike Connor Secretary of the Department of Interior. Celia Munoz, Director of Domestic Policy to the White House, Jerry Abramson from Inter- Governmental Affairs, and lastly Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State spoke encouraging words of the meeting between the Haudenosaunee and the United States. In closing Heather Higginbottom presented treaty cloth to the Haudenosaunee Delegates acknowledging that the Canandaigua Treaty is still being honored by the United States. A small amount of cloth was given to each Nation.
Oneida Chief Howard Elijah spoke a few words about the significance of this meeting and then closed the meeting in the Oneida language. In order to help the federal representatives understand the Opening and Closing address, the book, “Words Before All Else” from our Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force were shared with them.
It was a good meeting with hopefully more to come.