tv History of Native American Treaties CSPAN October 26, 2014 1:20pm-2:01pm EDT
fighting. but look at booker t. washington. still over 80% of black folks are educated. still where seven or eight out of every 10 doctors and lawyers are still being educated at hbcu's. that kind of like leadership and intelligentsia coming out of hbcu's, and a lot of that had to do with booker t. washington's support financially sending money their way so they could survive and all of that. you have legacies in different ways. we have one institutional legacy and another in terms of transforming american society in
terms of resources and opportunities. we will continue with this argument throughout the semester i am sure, and ultimately i will win. [laughter] thank you so much. >> you are watching american history tv. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule, and programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. professoruthor and richard hill describes the history of native american treaties. he explains the nature of treaty making and the rituals and artifacts that help bind treaties between native americans and the federal government. he also discusses how those treaties have suffered in the last century. this event is a portion of the symposium hosted by the national museum of the american indian in washington, d.c. it is about 40 minutes.
>> richard hill is senior coordinator in ontario. from 1992 until 1995, rick served as the assistant director for public programs and as the special assistant to the director of the national museum of american indians. he has lectured and written extensively on placing native american art, history, and culture in its proper context as well as on american indian museum issues such as tribal consultation, repatriation, stereotyping, and cross-cultural
education. please join me in giving a warm welcome to rick hill. [applause] >> it is great to be here. i gave tim his first job in the museum when he was much younger. i wanted to see what he made of himself, not that i did not believe he could. the way senecas greet one another, it means i am thankful that you are well. that applies to all of you. the concept of wellness also means you are at peace. wellness and peace are at the heart of our cultural aspirations for treaty making. i wanted to share the history of this. the linking of the arms is a concept employed before the district of columbia was created.
on my mothers side, we made treaties with the united states, some of the oldest treaties. they were crafted in philadelphia. today, there is a vacant lot downtown. that was reserved for our leaders when they used to come to negotiate the terms of these agreements, first with colonial leaders and then the president and early congress. maybe in many ways, it has become in washington where we gather to discuss these materials and what they mean. i wanted to give you a quick visual journey. i find it ironic that before the united states was formed, the british always manifested the relationship between them and the colonies as if they were two women. britannia, and the white
colonists were envisioned as natives, naked natives. we see the female combatants in 1776 duking it out. they finally make up and start kissing one another. ironically, treaty making is very much a man's business. i wonder what would be the nature of our relationship if the indian and colonial women had negotiated these agreements. they would have been less about the lust for the land. [applause] sometimes we fought on behalf of our allies and sometimes against them. wampum became the core medium by which treaties were manifested. we heard a little bit about that. this is here in the collection. this tomahawk is woven into a belt. purple indicates we are ready to go to war because of unresolved matters. this is a british official dressed like a native trying to get us to ally ourselves with the crown. the treaty relationship is what is primary. it is a relationship. it is manifested in this little drawing on a silver pipe used in
1769 of neighbors coming together. native nations and neighbors and other people living there. we had to negotiate these terms. notice they are smoking this pipe and have this wampum chain between them. the written documents are momentary pauses in this relationship when people said, what is our expectation of the future? let's record this and try to come to one mind on the matter. as we see in this old print, this was one of the mohawks that went to meet with queen anne in 1710 carrying this wampum belt message. it is the interaction between our people. this was a drawing my ancestors sent over to england in 1890. it is very fuzzy. it is in the archives. we can see the british official
in the red coat and the native official holding this chain. they are both pointing to the sun because there is a spiritual component to treaty making. both treaty partners believe we are there and witnessed by whatever power is above and that our word given the occasion was solemn. i grew up hearing our treaties were sacred. when i read them, i did not see much sacredness. they were just for land grab. when you hear the dialogue that took place, the pledging to each other, they say god or the great spirit is witnessing this pledge and we are going to smoke despite because it will carry that pledge to the sky. this is why they're pointing to the sun. we see the council fire. it was a very real thing. the kindle the fire because the fire was supposed to have the power to purify your word. this drawing reminds us of that. i take my lead from a friend of mine, john mohawk, that used to teach at the university of buffalo for many years. he talked about the founders of the confederacy believed in
justice must be abolished before conditions would exist which could promote peace. it is about making peace but it is injustice that upsets the peace. in many ways, treaty making is trying to make amends for the injustices. we had hundreds of treaty meetings with the french, dutch, english, americans, and canadians because the injustices continued. we had to find a way to resolve them. peace was not simply the absence of conflict but part of a sincere and informed negotiations which sought justice as a precondition to true peace. i believe this is possibly what is missing today. there are too many lawyers arguing about what the treaty means and not looking at how we
resolve the injustice that took place. we have protocol for doing that. very important in our tradition that whenever our people engaged with colonial leaders, we perform this ceremony. it was called "at the edge of the woods." you just took this arduous journey through the woods to get to the place where the treaty council is made. at the edge of the woods is the transformation zone from darkness into the light. what we had to do is prepare the mind of the negotiators to be ready to engage with us. we used these wampum strings. this was in 1815 when the british were making amends back to our people involved in the war. so william johnson's grandson offered these words. this is after the war. what he is doing is ceremonially he is trying to cleanse all of that. important thing is the british word our protocol in doing that,
so treaty making was a cultural manifestation of our worldview. at the edge of the woods, we would do the ceremony where we would first take the softest deerskin we can find. when you tan a natural deer hide, this is what it looks like. with this soft skin and a string of wampum beads, we would first wipe the tears away from your eyes. whatever grief, war causes trauma. in order for you to see as clearly, we have to take this cloth and wipe those tears away. trauma is like dust that settles over your body. the second thing we do is take the softest leather we can find. with a feather, we will slowly clean your ears out so you can hear the powerful words given. you can also hear the birds sing and be restored in your spirit. with the third one, we will take
water. back then, water was really good. we would give that to you to wash down this thing caught in your throat from speaking well and nursing your body. we uplift your mind, your spirit, and your body. you have to be healthy to engage in a healthy treaty process. i'm not going to go through all of this, but these are important to share. we call it a requickening because it is bringing to light your treaty partner. you have to be healthy. the number one problem is the federal government cannot see us, hear us, and half the time they cannot talk to us. this old tradition that goes back to the foundation of treaty making, maybe it should be restored so we can have a healthy dialogue. wiping the tears, pushing the clouds back important, opening the ears and throat so you can hear. but it is also restoring the
capacity of the treaty partner to negotiate truthfully and healthfully. that is important. we also straighten the body. you have to remember a lot of these were after actual armed conflicts. because of colonization, we have inherited different kinds of trauma, of being betrayed by missionaries or government officials or teachers. our grief needs to be lifted if we are going to have a productive relationship. this means all of the baggage that you carry, all the crap in your mind, we have to remove all of that before we can continue on our relationships. at the same time, we will gather the bones of the people that got .hurt. this is very important,
particularly in the era of repeat tradition. we had to gather the bones of our ancestors in museums and put them back in the ground. it is hard to talk about a seventh generation we are suffering from these old ones. by putting the bones back in the ground and making amends for what took place, let's move on from there. very important. in our language, we don't have a word for treaty. the best thing to say is it is a completed matter. we have come to one mind on this. a very old tradition among the natives was we have these family clans named after animals. the top one is a bear even though it looks like a pig. it is with the french meeting around the council fire. at the bottom, we see the bear and beaver clan meeting and offering the wampum belt. our wampum belts are encoded with the concept of a chain, the people linking arms together. we all stand a big circle and link our arms to create a strong presence.
the wampum belt on top of the united nations shows the six nations that renewed their link after the revolutionary war. each square represents the individual nations. there is encoding in a wampum belt. sometimes they are difficult to read because these have been taken away for 100 years and restored to us. the two main ones on which treaty making are premised are these two here. one has become very famous with the two rows. the other with the figure is sometimes called the friendship belt or the belt by which we
linked arms with our treaty partner. in this particular case, with the british government. these two belts have been very important to understand the nature of our treaty making. two rows began in 1614 when we met with the dutch at the confluence of the rivers. somehow they were able to come to an agreement. the primary motivation was because we met the french a few years early and saw for the first time firearms.
our people being naturally intelligent and beautiful said, let's not go there. let's make peace. they chose the symbol of the two row wampum to manifest that idea. imagine on one row or path is the ship of the europeans and now the descendents. on the other is our ship, the native one. if you look at these old belts, it is a little tattered and torn. i would like to think it is because of active use over the last 300 or 400 years. but maybe it also symbolizes our relationship which has become a little tattered and torn. there is a founding principle between it. these two vessels were tied together and going down the river of life together. what linked them is this chain. there are three links in the chain. the first stands for friendship, we have to be friends with our neighbors. the second is we always have to think about the justice john mohawk was talking about to establish and maintain peace. this was the three principles of treaty making when it began from our point of view.
this is a belt that manifests the symbol of the two people holding hands together. but in reality, the little line between them is the wampum belt and payment. it is the same thing. but we take hold of each other's hands or arms to become strong like brothers. the diplomatic language in treaty making is about brothers. the nations were viewed as brothers. not as father and son but as brothers. this is called the covenant chain. the covenant chain becomes the second manifestation of that relationship. this belt was given to us by the english in a thing 1754. but really dates back to 1664 or 1667. you can see in the design, there are two figures. often times we see it this way. but in the native tradition, we hold the wampum belt for reading. the dark figure represents the crown head of the government we are dealing with.
the white square represents his or her heart. the other to give represents the native leaders. as you'll notice, we are all heart. i tell you, we are all heart. [laughter] we must have been to give away so much land. this covenant relationship becomes a reoccurring theme in the colonial diplomacy because it symbolizes the links of the chain manifested in the wampum belt, but it was also a real tool by which negotiations could take place. what they said is interesting when we read these belts. it will put you my duties to hear what our ancestors had to say. you finally say i understand where they were coming from. the lack of wampum literacy has hurt the treaty making process. i cannot tell you how may times we have a negotiation with government officials, and they keep saying i did not know that. covenant chain? i never heard about that. in reality, the historic and legal records are full of these references.
in order to have a modern-day reconciliation with the covenant chain, you have to do these three things. first we have to have mutual respect. that is difficult in this era. how can we trust the federal government one more time? think about it. if we don't have that respect, we can no longer trust each other. i find it ironic they call it a
trust relationship that turned out to be distrustful. we have to find a way to renew those things if we are going to have ongoing friendship. the wampum belts and words are representing this great aspiration for the future. there are some tools about how to negotiate the future. you will see many manifestations of the same idea. the concept of the covenant chain is also the king, the queen, the president wants our attention, he would shake the chain. it would reverberate from their counsel fire to ours and we would turn to attention. now what do they want? more land? when things were done to us, we would shake the chain, shake the chain. [laughter] we always got a busy signal. it never quite seemed to connect. the modern manifestation is the shaking of the chain to try to get people's attention. this is a very profound treaty relationship inherited from the english, french, and dutch manifested in many different ways. the difference is we still have a covenant chain relationship with the crown of britain. my relatives that live in canada also have one with the united states. as you can imagine, sometimes it is difficult.
the other tradition in treaty making was the concept of covering the grave. no matter what harm has been done between our people including murder or death as a result of war, we had to heal that wound. we had to recognize the harm done and provide responsibility for that act. they had to come up with a way for restitution, some kind of payment. in the old days, it was wampum because it was so precious. wampum has the stability we believe to capture the words. when you pick it up again and you are good minded, the words in the belt will come through our speaker and be shared with us again. it is not just oral memory. it is encoded in the belt. it is captured in the belt so we will never lose that. only if we lose our language will we lose the understanding. but the issues have to be laid to rest. in canada, they are trying to
wrestle with the residential school issues. how do we put that to rest because there are so many walking wounded? we have to find a way to move on. we can no longer be captured as victims of our history. we cannot be looked at as wards of the government. we have to move past that and apply these principles for the future. it was such a profound matter could these are the personal symbols of the imperial indian agent headquartered in albany. look at the symbol there. the chain and the hands represented the six nations and the british hand. we see the canoe and the ship. we can see the council fire burning. we can see the pipe being used. and we can see the tree of peace planted. these were common symbols of our language. i believe it is no coincidence the early americans picked the pine tree, our symbol of peace, our eagle, the guardian. the primary treaty relationship was with the natives. i believe the symbols to be true. like all treaty relationships, they're kind of like a marriage. it does not always work well. sometimes you need to renegotiate or need a counselor. remember what we said 100 or 50 years ago? let's find a way to bring the old ideas back.
this is an example of the treaty. in 1774, this could be perceived as the first treaty the united states made. they made a treaty with us to try to keep us out of the war that was coming. it says we brighten the chain of friendship, that is what the belt was called. we are going to polish it and make it new and remember the words. the americans inherited the chain from the british. we hold fast as long as the clouds produce rain, our relationship will continue.
this is the metaphor of the dialogue, but everyone meant it. think we got a little suspicious despite the covenant chain? this one in 1792, we see the speaker standing over the council fire with our delegates on one side. there are also british delegates with the redcoats and the americans sitting in the chairs. behind the americans are the guys and big hats. guess who they are? they are quakers. we said we are suspicious of the way the treaty is being interpreted to us. we believed the quakers had a genuine heart and interest in the truth, so we would ask the quakers to be our eyes and ears and tell us if what the americans and british are saying is true.
was it accurately translated? we always needed a disinterested third party to make sure the terms of the treaty were well said. smoking the pipe is important. i think this is in the exhibition. smoking that silver pipe is a manifestation. the british turned the covenant chain into a silver chain. first it was a rope. then an iron chain. then they made it into a silver chain, polishing silver to make it right was manifested in the pipes when you smoke them. sometimes they got chintzy and made them out of other materials, but the silver is very important. i think there is an example of this upstairs. george washington and the native smoking the pipe. if you read the iconography, you'll notice george washington has his hand on his sword and the native has thrown his tomahawk to the ground. in the background, we see a man plowing. we have always been great farmers. washington returned to farming. let's put an end to the fight between us. we have the two chains, so we had divided loyalties. my father's relatives fought against my mother's relatives. same thing in the war of 1812. they made up and had some kids, so we are lucky about that. [laughter] in one of the treaties, the general try to take the case to the newly formed league of nations. we see him standing there looking like a wild west native.
you can see the same two belts. he tried to say this is our relationship to great britain. canada is interfering. we are asking canada to become involved. we have paper treaties. we also had wampum agreements. you need to see all of that. it is a tricky language. the lawyers will know that. you can say things where it does not really mean what it says. if you read them, you would think they were written differently because they put their slant into how it was interpreted. what is written on the parchment was has to be balanced with the wampum memory. reproductions of the belts are made. they become a continuing part of our identity, these five or six nations. these photograph from 1955 shows the men holding the silver pipe and belts because they are renewing the memory they contain. when the united states was formed, as all things american, they had to make the biggest wampum belt called the george washington covenant belt. the name for george washington translates to destroyer of towns because he tried to destroy us in 1779. i was born in 1950. all my life, the president has lived up to that name, destroying somebody's town somewhere in the world. it is the belt with washington that codifies the nature of the agreement. this belt was commissioned by the early congress.
it was made on purpose. it was given to us by george washington. the people of the long house standing together with the 13 original states. they took the wampum ideology, manifested it in this belt to represent the relationship between us and the united states. a mohawk speaker talked about this belt representing a circle of shells because it was meant to be wrapped in a circle with the five nations on the inside to be protected by our allies. we did not relinquish our sovereign authority.
but we said we will stop the internal fight if you will protect our interests. this was given by george washington. it is very important. when you think about it, we have this treaty document held by george washington. his words and aspirations were put into that and given to us as part of our living memory. the treaty manifested in many ways. we see the chief holding the seneca version. there were three written versions, parchment documents that have survived. the other cheek is looking at the bundle of cloth.
it makes you wonder why. what is up with that? one of the articles of the treaty is we were to be given $5,000 worth of edible animal husbandry goods. i could not understand that. a kinky thing? it turns out the implements of farming, how to make a domestic life. that was george washington's aspiration. so every year the united states in budget negotiations has to say $5,000 worth of goods has to go to the recognition of our trading relationship. it turns out they buy the cheapest muslin cloth they can get and then send it to us. the united states asked if they could give us a cash buyout. the women said no.
as long as the treaty cloth is coming from washington to be distributed, there's a chance they will remember the rest of the articles of the treaty. it is interesting cheap cloth could be very important. we have used the treaties and discussion many times. every time there was a new president, we bring the wampum belts and described to him this is the nature of our relationship. i think that came to an end right after 1924. does anybody know what happened then? they passed a law that declared we would be citizens of the united states. in legal thinking, you can't have an international treaty with your own citizens. so there was this shift in american thinking. if we just make them citizens,
maybe things will change. they were coming down here because we said we don't want our relationships the federal government terminated, but our relationship is in these wampum belts not in the little amount of goods that flow to our community. the paper treaties are important manifestations of that. sometimes what it says and what we think it says are different things. at the same time, just about every treaty has been broken one way or the other. it is a relationship. in our treaties, there is this problem solving, diplomatic negotiating structure. here is how you can deal with that. that kind of comes to an end. this photograph shows when they are protesting the violation of the treaty when they built the dam it took a lot of seneca land. the united states rationalized the treaty was duly authorized, but it is now in the common interest of the united states to
abandon that principle for this over here. so we are always stuck with their principles being the guiding principle. our covenant chain has grown rusty over the last century. the old days, you used to say let's knock the rust off and find a way to polish it. sometimes i think it has been abandoned. it is not the first time. 1659, a long time ago. a mohawk speaker was in albany. he said we have been here before and made an alliance, the dutch. the dutch say we are brothers and join together with chains. once we have something to offer, they want to negotiate. today, the beaver has been replaced by cigarettes. tax-free gasoline and the hope you will get rich at the casino. 1819, after the war of 1812, red
jacket echoed this. all the promises made by one president are handed down to the next. a little foolish in that thinking. we expect to comply with our engagements. we have persistently said this despite the french and indian war and the revolutionary war and the war of 1812. we have said we will still try to uphold our covenant chain relationships with the united states. you have heard our treaty with the united states. here is the wampum belt to confirm that treaty. red jacket was standing there in 1819 holding the george washington covenant belt. this holds our hands together.
here is the parchment, also had the written paper. you know the contents. i will not open it. the tree of friendship is decaying. the symbol of our relationship is starting to fall. it says it is falling fast and it is your fault. what are you going to do about it? are you going to let it crash and destroy centuries of negotiation and diplomacy or are we going to do something? my great-grandfather, the guy i am named after, richard hill, was the chief of six nations. he was given the assignment in
the 1890's to find all the treaties, locatell the wampum belts, and see the nature of our relationship. my great-grandfather was then given the relationship the less responsibility. it skipped a generation and came to me. it is my responsibility to seek out these wampum belts and treaties and see what they say. over these four generations, i'm amazed at the hope our people have that someday this will be meaningful someday in the future. we keep trying to remind the government about that. this is a photograph of my daughter. she is nine years old today. she's standing in front of this monument of the six nations. behind her etched in stone are these two belts, the covenant chain and the two-row. it is etched in our genetic memory. it would be my hope my daughter and her granddaughter don't grow up asking the same questions my great grandfather asked. when is this going to become true? we need to have more than hope and expectations for the future because we know these treaties not always been manifested well. here is a good example. in 2010, the iroquois national
lacrosse team was refused the right to board an airplane to go to england to compete in the world lacrosse tournament. we travel on our own passport. we devised this many years ago. each comes with a picture of a very beautiful looking person. [laughter] but it is all written in our language. i went to england trying to use his passport and got deported because they would not accept it. later when i traveled 15 years ago, we got in with this passport. because of homeland security issues, now our passport is declared a fantasy document under the law which means we are pretending we are a nation. if we are going to manifest our treaty relationships, we have a great opportunity coming because those world games are going back to england, our treaty partner. we need your help. we need the help of the
president, the department of state, the canadian foreign affairs. because wouldn't it be great all these years after these covenant treaty relationships were made that our team representing the citizens of our nation are able to take the field and play against the others? when you see these games, it is amazing. all of the flags fly, and also ours. the passport is a very important manifestation of that. ironically in june of 2010, she was visiting canada and reminded them of the treaty relationship. apparently, she did not tell their customs office before she left. it was still valid and our people were denied. hillary clinton got involved and offered a one-time use of our passport. we are not going away. we are the people your ancestors
met. we are the people who made these treaties with you. we are asking you to recognize that in real ways. to really manifest the aspirations of these treaties is very important i believe not only to the future the integrity of the united states and great britain but to also to our people, so that someday my great-grandchildren can say we are citizens of our own government. it has been this way a long time, and we don't have any desire to change. treaties are important because it provides us an avenue, an opportunity, to explore what this means in a very real way. i cannot just be something manipulated in court. you often lose when you leave it to other people to determine the nature of these. our wampum belts are never presented in court despite the
aspiration that the treaties are important. these are replicas are important. hopefully on november 11, we are going to bring back the real versions because november 11 is the anniversary of the treaty. the nation just sent more vermonters to the white house inviting the president or a designee to come to the commemoration. stay tuned. if this will have any impact, november 11 will give us an indication. every year, we gather to recite the terms of the treaty. we invite you there. hopefully, this exhibition and the wampum lot in philadelphia, this will be the place where we can gather together, gather our minds together, and hopefully come together of one mind on what is the true nature, aspirations, and expectations these treaties provide for all of us. these treaties were made not just for our benefit, but for your benefit as well. i appreciate the time i have had here. i would like to acknowledge suzanne. if not for her grand vision and determination, this would never have come about. i would also like to acknowledge kevin having the courage to bring this exhibition here. when i first worked here years ago, this is the kind of thing
we imagined would take place. i'm happy to be here to be part of the celebration. hopefully the next time i see you, we will be in england beating the united states in lacrosse. thank you. [laughter] [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] if you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. campaignof c-span's 2014 coverage. follow us on twitter and like us on facebook to get debate schedules, video clips of key moments am a debate videos from our politics team. c-span is ringing you over 100 senate come house, government debates and you can share your