Natives celebrate 1794 treaty

Recently, American Indians paraded to kick off a day-long celebration to commemorate the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794.

The treaty was entered more than 200 years ago when the United States asked American Indians for help. The USA reached out to the Iroquois Confederacy Six Nations for assistance in its fight to stay independent and joined with the Six Nations, who, in turn, sought to preserve their lands. Thereafter, the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 was signed.

Keynote speaker Chief Oren Lyons said it is vital to look at the context of the treaty to better understand it.

“The context of the 1794 treaty is very, very fundamentally important to the survival of the United States as a government,” Lyons said. In reaching out to the Six Nations, President George Washington was trying to ensure that those nations wouldn’t retaliate against U.S. government.

An advocate for indigenous rights worldwide, and Faithkeeper for the Turtle clan of the Onondaga and Seneca nations, Lyons spoke at the Canandaigua Primary School. He said the treaty stands for solidarity, something we must remember as we go forward.

Problems facing the world today like melting polar ice caps and population explosion affect all people, Lyons said. Regardless of differences in race and culture, we are one species, and a human family, he added.

During the evening, Native Americans and American citizens gathered at Canandaigua Primary School for a feast full of traditional dishes. Later, Mohawk author Doug George gave a speech on Tecumseh, a powerful Native American leader from the late 18th century who had a vision of the nations coming together to preserve and protect their land from the United States.

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