Canandaigua, NY—In 1794, a historic federal treaty signed in Canandaigua brought about peace between the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Confederacy) and the United States, each recognizing the sovereignty of the other to govern and set laws as distinct nations. On Friday, November 11, 222 years later, the Canandaigua Treaty will be commemorated. It is a time to rededicate ourselves and “polish the chain of peace and friendship.” Treaties are the supreme “Law of the Land” between nations. They are binding, current, and vibrant agreements.
George Washington realized that the friendship of the Six Nations was vital to the young United States. Signing this treaty bringing peace were Colonel Timothy Pickering—Washington’s official agent— on behalf of the United States, and sachems from the Grand Council of the Six Nations (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora).
“We consider the Canandaigua Treaty between the United States and the Six Nations to be valid and in effect,” said Peter Jemison, Ganondagan State Historic Site manager. “This country is about to have an election, and we need to ensure that whoever becomes the next president will understand the importance of this treaty. This is how we protect our sovereignty. Commemorating the event not only keeps it top of mind, but reminds the United States that the treaty agreement continues to represent peace, friendship, and sovereignty, and provides an accepted protocol when conflicts arise.”
At 1:30 pm, the public is invited to gather outside the Canandaigua Primary School (96 W. Gibson St.) for a march to the lawn of the Ontario County Courthouse. Haudenosaunee Chiefs lead the march followed by representatives from the Six Nations and the United States. The traditional commemoration ceremony takes place at 2:00 pm on the lawn, introduced by Jemison, and includes Quaker representatives whose ancestors—as people of peace—bore witness to the original signing to ensure fair negotiations.
From 12-4 pm, attendees are invited to the Ontario County Historical Society (55 N. Main St.) to view one of only two original copies of the treaty and pertinent letters. From 10:30–5 pm, a Native American art and craft sale will take place at the Canandaigua Primary School gym.
At 6:00 pm in the Primary School auditorium, photographer Alex Hamer (Oneida) will be featured to narrate his “Photos from Standing Rock: Documenting the Dakota Access Pipeline Water Protectors.” Hamer has made two trips to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to support the water protectors protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their lands and their only source of clean water. Hamer’s photos bring a perspective from the campsite during his visits in August and September. Doug George (Mohawk) also will be speaking about the White Pine Tree of Peace planted at Cohoes Falls to mark the return of the Mohawk people to one of their sacred sites.
All activities are free and open to the public. Friends of Ganondagan and the 1794 Canandaigua Treaty Committee host this event organized by the Friends in collaboration with the City of Canandaigua. It is made possible by the Haudenosaunee Peace & Trade Committee, Mohawk Nation Council, Tonawanda Seneca Nation, Tuscarora Nation of Indians, the Seneca Nation of Indians, and the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Visit http://ganondagan.org/Events-Programs/Canandaigua-Treaty-Event or call 585-742-1690.
November 11 Canandaigua Treaty Day Commemoration Schedule (free and open to the public)
10:30 – 5 pm: Native American art and craft sale at the Primary School gym
1:30 pm: Walk from Canandaigua Primary School (96 W. Gibson St.) to Ontario County Courthouse (27 N. Main St.)
2:00 pm: Commemoration Ceremony; front lawn of Ontario County Courthouse
6:00 pm: Keynote Speaker/Photographer Alex Hamer (Oneida) and Doug George (Mohawk); Primary School Auditorium