BY LAEL HINES | At 10 a.m. on Fri. Aug. 9, hundreds of canoers and kayakers, both Native American and non-Native American, arrayed in two parallel rows, will pull into Pier 96 at W. 57th St. They will then march across Manhattan to the United Nations, where they will receive a welcome from the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, at First Ave. and 47th St.
The next day, a festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 Vesey St., west of the World Trade Center. Performers will include the likes of comedian Charlie Hill, the Akwesasne Women Singers, Sherri Waterman and the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers and Josephine Tarrant.
It’s all part of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, a partnership between all six Native American Haudenosaunee nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora) and the Neighbors of the Onondaga nation (NOON), based out of Syracuse, N.Y.
On July 28, a group of hundreds set off on the 140-mile paddle down the Hudson River to New York City. Their goal is to spread peace, friendship and togetherness, as well as to re-establish the importance of an oral treaty made between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch colonists exactly 400 years ago. The Wampum rowers also stress respect for the environment, encouraging sustainability and opposing hydrofracking.
Emily Bishop, an organizer of the campaign, said, “Our initiative is to honor Native American treaties and renew a respect toward the earth. To survive on this earth, we have to be peaceful and sustainable. We over all just want to educate people, and spread our message on what it means to be sustainable.
“The campaign is pretty epic,” Bishop added. “Any message that must be conveyed has to be done in a big way — and we have 500 people paddling down the Hudson River. It’s kind of a big deal.”