August 20, 2013
‘We’re All Here Together’
Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign draws support in Dryden
DRYDEN — Dryden residents who recently returned from a two-week, 140-mile excursion down the Hudson River and some of the Finger Lakes to support communications between Native Americans and European settlers are urging the Town Board to join the effort.
The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign supports Native American culture, environmental conservation and the fostering of communication between current Native American populations and the descendants of European settlers who first came to North America over 400 years ago.
After hearing a handful of speakers talk passionately about their cause, the board voted in unanimity to officially support the campaign, a joint effort by the Onondaga Nation and the Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, or NOON.
“This is not about a land grab,” said Hilary Lambert of Dryden who worked on the campaign. “It’s about saying we’re all here together, and we have to communicate better.”
The Two Row Wampum was a treaty between the Iroquois, who inhabited Central New York before the arrival of European settlers, and Dutch immigrants in 1613, intended to ensure peaceful coexistence for “as long as the grass is green, the water flows downhill and the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.”
Starting in Albany and ending in New York City, the 140-mile trek culminated Aug. 9 in a waterborne arrival in Manhattan to attend a United Nations event to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Over 200 natives and non-natives participated in the journey.
Brooke Hansen, a Dryden resident who is the coordinator of Native American Studies at Ithaca College, paddled the Cayuga Lake stretch of the trip from Stewart Park in Ithaca to Aurora, a distance of about 8 miles. As an advocate of Native American education for the past 20 years, the event was of immense importance to her.
“A lot of people don’t understand that they’re (Native Americans) still here,” Hansen said after Thursday’s board meeting. “Our hometown has supported something we’ve put our hearts and souls into. It feels awesome.”
“Whenever any government recognizes native history, it’s a proud moment,” said Jack Rossen, who heads the Native American Studies Department at Ithaca College with Hansen. “They say it’s about honoring the past, but I think it’s about the present. The Two Row Wampum is a tremendous opportunity to re-examine our relationships.”
Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner said the board was excited to support the campaign.
“I think it’s an admirable effort,” Sumner said of the campaign’s broad goals.
As she paddled her stretch of the 140-mile journey, Hansen said she was struck with visions of the past, of what it must have been like for those who had paddled the same smooth surface before any Europeans laid hand or foot on the continent.
One of the most moving legs of the trek took place in Poughkeepsie, as a delegation of Dakotas stood vigil on the Highland Bridge above in a show of mutual solidarity and respect as the party of itinerant paddlers floated by below
“People were crying,” Hansen said. “It was such an emotional moment.”
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