"If one seeks to understand Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) history, one must consider the history of Haudenosaunee land. For countless generations prior to European contact, land and territory informed Haudenosaunee thought and philosophy, and was a primary determinant of Haudenosaunee identity."
Several centuries ago, the five nations that would become the Haudenosaunee -- Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca -- were locked in generations-long cycles of bloodshed. When they established Kayanerenkó:wa, the Great Law of Peace, they not only resolved intractable coinflicts, but also shaped a system of law and government that would maintain peace for generations to come.
Like many Iroquois peoples, the Mohawk insist on the integrity of Haudenosaunee governance and refuse American or Canadian citizenship. Audra Simpson thinks through this politics of refusal, which stands in stark contrast to the politics of cultural recognition.
Drawing on the transcripts of negotiations between Canadian officials and Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) warriors in Tyendinaga, this article examines how the Two Row Wampum's notion of alliance through separation played out in the 2020 rail blockade movement in support of the Wet'suwet'en people's fight against the Coastal GasLink pipelines. Central to the text is Kanien'kehá:ka warriors’ suggestion that, beyond relations with settlers, the Two Row Wampum applies to relations between and among Indigenous nations, clans, genders, and even nonhumans.
The Iroquois drew on two systems of law, United States and indigenous, in order to make protests and claims for autonomy. They focused on whatever perception of the law they deemed best suited to the problems they faced, and they attempted to make the United States respect their laws
"The Two Row Wampum is one of the oldest treaty relationships between the Onkwehonweh (original people) of Turtle Island (North America) and European immigrants. The treaty was made in 1613 between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) as Dutch traders and settlers moved up the Hudson River into Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) territory."