To row for peace

Two Warwick women to canoe the Hudson in honor of the 1613 treaty between Native Americans and Dutch settlers

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  • Pictured here are Alice McMechen, Tom Houghton, Sarah Scott and Patricia DeBruhl after practice paddle on the Hudson River.

  • This summer marks the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, first treaty between Native Americans and Dutch settlers that was symbolized by a belt made of two parallel rows of beads, a sign of peace between the two cultures. Information about the treatyís commemoration are available online at

ALBANY — Warwick residents Patricia DeBruhl and Alice McMechen will join more than 200 paddlers canoeing down the Hudson River this summer as part of a campaign to honor the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between Native Americans and Dutch settlers.

The Two Row Wampum Treaty was symbolized by a belt made of two parallel rows of beads, a sign of peace between the two cultures.

Paddlers are scheduled to leave the Albany area on Sunday, July 28. The trip will end at Pier 96 in New York City on Friday, Aug. 9, with participants then walking to the United Nations to honor the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

They consist of roughly equal numbers of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, paddling side-by-side in two lines to honor and bring to life the imagery of the Two Row Wampum belt.

Paddlers can join for all or a portion of the journey. Paralleling them on land will be the Dakota Unity Riders.

‘Our ways of life’
The Two Row Wampum treaty between the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois Confederacy) and the first settlers (the Dutch) teaches how to coexist together in peace and friendship, respect sovereignty, and share the responsibility to take care of the environment.

The Haudenosaunee have kept the treaty, but it was largely forgotten by the British and then the United States government, even though both adopted its protocols.

“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. “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.”

Edwards emphasized the need to respect the laws of nature and to protect the river of life.

To that end, the Onondaga nation and its non-native allies in the Southern Tier have been leading a struggle to prevent hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New York State.

“We are proud that the Town of Warwick has also taken a stand to prevent fracking by passing a ban earlier this year,” McMechen said.

Festival Aug. 3

DeBruhl and McMechen will spend two days on the river, departing from Norrie Park early on Friday, Aug. 2, along with two other representatives of Cornwall Quaker Meeting, Tom Houghton and Sarah Scott of Marlboro. They will arrive at around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Beacon waterfront, where the Beacon Sloop Club will greet the paddlers with a Two Row Wampum Festival from noon to 8 p.m.

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