- This article was written by Ryan Buncher. Dina Sciortino posted and added to this story.
Paddlers with the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign will launch their kayaks and canoes from Croton Point Park this morning to sail the Hudson River to Piermont's Parelli Park.
The paddlers spent Tuesday afternoon at the Croton-on-Hudson park to listen to Iroquois elders, like the Onondaga Clanmother and educator Freida Jacques, tell of their history.
Today they set sail for Piermont and will arrive at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday for a presentation set for Goswick Pavilion at 7 p.m.
Approximately 500 paddlers are making a journey down the Hudson River in canoes and kayaks, which began in Renssalaer in July and will end Aug. 9 in Manhattan.
The Onondaga Nation and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation are working together to recognize the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Agreement, the first treaty signed between the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois, and European Settlers.
"Each line of the wampum belt represents each of our laws, governments, languages, cultures, our ways of life," said Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, in a press release. "It is agreed that we will travel together, side by each, on the river of life…linked by peace, friendship, forever. We will not try to steer each others' vessels."
The treaty was recorded on a beaded belt known as the Two-Row Wampum. The oral history connected to it speaks of allowing all to follow their own path rather than trying to "steer each other's ships."
In addition to the message of friendship, peace and respecting one another's rights—the importance of protecting the environment is a key focus for the participants in the trip, which is over 140 miles.
“The Two Row is the oldest and is the grandfather of all subsequent treaties,” said Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation’s Turtle Clan, in the press release. “The words ‘as long as the sun shines, as long as the waters flow downhill, and as long as the grass grows green’ can be found in many treaties after the 1613 treaty. It set a relationship of equity and peace. This campaign is to remind people of the importance of the agreements.”
"It is very much about waterways, taking care of waterways," said Laurie Speer, who will be speaking for the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance Wednesday. "It is so core to what everybody is about. In taking care of our waterways, we also honor indigenous people subject to all kinds of environmental injustice."
Speer spoke of the issue of pollution of waters in Syracuse, but also issues that hit far closer to home in Rockland County, the opposition to United Water's plan to build a desalination plant in West Haverstraw.
"They are helping us say desalination is not a good direction for Rockland," Speer said. "We are pulling together, honoring the waterways and each other.
Ramapough Lunaape Chief Dwaine Perry will offer a blessing and Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders and Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart are expected to speak at the landing at Parelli Park.
The paddlers will then set up camp on Rittenberg Field. At 7 p.m., Onondaga elders, paddlers and Rockland Youth will join Perry and Seeman among other speakers in Goswick Pavilion.
The Westchester/Rockland leg of their journey ends on Thursday when the launch from Piermont at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at Inwood Hill Park in New York City around 5 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 9 they make their way to at Pier 96 in New York City where paddlers will walk to the United Nations to honor International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples will other various groups like the Dutch Counsul General, non-native dignitaries and those from Native nations.
For more about the Two-Row Wampum, go to the website by Gwendolen Cates fhttp://honorthetworow.org/ or check out the video above or the Onondaga Nation.
To read about a previous stop in Peekskill, check out this report on Patch.