Acknowledging The Two Row Wampum
For the sacred is in all things and especially in exchange among the people.
The Two Row Wampum, known as the Kaswentha or Tekeni Tiohate
Two rows of purple wampum (each two beads wide) separated and bordered by rows of white wampum (three beads wide) create two purple paths on a white background, our Earth Mother.
One of those paths is ours, the Haudenosaunee.
The other is for those with whom we enter into covenants of mutual respect. Our first covenant is with Creation. We acknowledge and respect Creation’s path.
We extend that covenant to other Ohnkwe Ohnwe by understanding that some relatives have paths distinct from ours. Overcoming man’s tendency to war and violence require symbols of mutual respect.
With the white man, we realize the need for a new metaphor.
Acknowledging paths across our “mother” won’t work for a people whose mindset cuts them off from the Earth. They have forgotten their common history with Creation.
So when we offer the Kaswentha to them, we descibe the two paths as two vessels upon the river of life – the ship and the canoe.
In our way of thinking, these vessels do not steer or dominate the other.
The voyage of each will be respected and unencumbered by the other.
In the time ahead, in the great and challenging days that spread out in front of us, and if we are to survive, each will offer friendship and assistance when the waters get rough.
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom
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