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  • Writer's pictureShane Moore

The Betrayal

The Native Americans from Quebec down to Kentucky formed what was called the Haudenosaunee, a league of 6 tribes that were ruled under the Law of Great Peace. It was this group referred to by John Collier as "the greatest political society ever devised by man...I think no institutional achievement of mankind exceeds it in with wisdom or intelligence."

This group is where the idea of burying the hatchet came up. When the tribes met, the Mohawks, Oneida, Onodaga, Cayug and Seneca, they made an oath of peace to each other. To do this, they cut down the largest tree and buried their weapons. Once buried, they planted a new tree. Oaths and agreements were very important to the people and they would stick to their word. This would become a problem for them several times in the future.

It all started when the French began to explore the area in 1534. Jacques Cartier and his "men" came to Turtle Island, what we call North America and were unable to sustain themselves, planning to leave in the fall and being delayed and staying through the winter. Having little knowledge of medicine and no surplus of food. The men grew very sick and began to starve. It was the Kanien Keha:ka who took them in. They fed them and cured them of the scurvy they were suffering from. Up to this point, Cartier had only fired on the Kanien Kaha:ka and called them savages refusing trade and contact with them.

After the spring, Cartier thanked the Kanien Kaha:ka by inviting them to a feast on his ships. When the natives arrived Cartier kidnapped 10 of them, sailing back to France. He then gifted the 10 to the King.

Samuel De Champlain showed great respect for the Kanien Kaha:ka at first. He was the first to realize the importance of maintaining good relationships with the tribesman to sustain good trade relations. That being said, when the Kanien Kaha:ka began to battle with the Algonquin, he took the side of the latter. Why? simply because a relationship with the Algonquin would assist him in further exploration of new territories. The Kanien Kaha:ka were defeated.

Henry Hudson has an interesting story to begin with. Let's just say that he was last heard from, set adrift on a small boat after a mutiny. After establish Fort Orange, outside Albany, some of his men, similarly to Champlain, formed an alliance with Mahicans during a battle. The Kanien Kaha:ka were victorious but were left with some serious trust issues as far as the Dutch were concerned.

At this point the Haudenosaunee realized that to establish any trust or alliance with the Dutch an agreement must be made. The created the Two Row Wampum. This was a belt made from white wampum that had two rows of purple beads. These beads represented the relationship between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee as two ships on a river. The idea was that there was room for both and that each would carry the culture of the other, neither interfering with the lives of the other. But of course, this would not last.

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