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Two Row Wampum
From the perspective of the First nations of Canada, the relationship with Canada and the colonial governments has always been one of partnership and equality as peoples. There is a long history in Canada of treaty making and, while the agreements may not always have been honoured, First nations will always remind the Canadian Government of its responsibility to their partners in confederation. Many First Nations use the story of the Gus-Wen-Tah, or Two Row Wampum, which formed the basis of treaties and agreements between the nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (called the Iroquois by European colonists) and the colonial powers. The story is illustrated by belts of Wampum beads the covenant chains, which are still exchanged at treaty discussions.

A background of white beads symbolises the purity of the agreement. Two rows of purple represent the nations entering into agreement and hold the spirit of the ancestors of each people. Three beads separate the two rows and symbolise the values of peace friendship and respect. Chief Michael Mitchell explained that the beads symbolise:
'Two paths or two vessels, travelling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian people, their laws, their customs and their ways. The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the same river together, side by side, but in our own boats. Neither of us will try to steer the other's vessel.'

Gordon Peters, of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Nation of Ontario, in Australia for a commemoration of twenty years of land rights in the Northern Territory said of the Two-Row agreement:
'It said that our government and our people would live side by side and we would co-exist with each other and no-one would impose their laws, their religions, their educations on each other and we would work together, to live by the arrangement. And they talked about the people, how they could co-exist as nations and how they would be attached by a silver chain - one in the canoe and one in the ship. That silver chain would be polished every so many years to remind each of the parties about the responsibilities that they undertook to have that peace, that harmony and that co-existence.'
Keywords: Canada, First Nations Canada, treaties

Presentation of the Haudenosaunee Confederation to the Canadian House of Commons Committee on Indian Self-Government 1983, 'International Perspectives: A Canadian View, in Land Rights Laws - Past Present and Future', CLC/NLC Conference, 16-17 August 1996, p 43.
Author: Strelein, Lisa