CROTON, N.Y. -- More than 200 people came ashore at Croton Point Park Tuesday to remind local residents of a 400-year-old peace agreement and promises not being kept.
The gathering at Croton Point Park was the second event in Westchester in as many days honoring the the "Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign." The paddlers stopped in Peekskill Monday after visiting Cold Spring in Putnam County. The stop in Croton marked the 10th day of the campaign of Native American and non-Native American people paddling down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City to recognize the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum treaty between the Iroquois Confederacy and the first Dutch settlers.
The treaty, established in 1613, called for representatives from both the natives and settlers to coexist in peace, respect the lands and to "walk the river of life as equals." As written, the treaty was to be honored "as long as the grass was green, the waterfalls go downhill and the sun goes up in the east and down in the west."
To honor the treaty, the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Village of Croton each signed proclamations honoring Aug. 7 to forever be known as "Two Row Wampum Renewal Day." Hickory Edwards, of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, said he is hoping the people witnessing the movement recognize the message of peace.
"We're using the ancient water trails they used 400 years ago to where they met with the Dutch to sign this agreement with their white brothers," Edwards said. "Everyone welcomed us and especially the the people here in Croton have helped spread that message of peace and friendship. It's great that so many are following this simple message of peace."
Pleasantville resident Cameron Kelly, who has paddled with the group since they embarked on the trip in Albany. Kelly said she hopes people who now call the lands their home respect and uphold their end of the treaty.
"As an environmental activist, I'm reminded that this is where it all started," Kelly said. "It's wonderful for us to remember this day and what this treaty means but we need to take it further. Let's learn about this and hopefully this will be the inspiration for all of us to do the right thing for the land and for the people who live here."
Croton native asldja alsdj said it was interesting feeling paddling into Croton Point Park and knowing she returning home with a cause and a message and hundreds of people joining her to support that message.
"It was really exciting for me to think of coming back to the park where I used to play hooky from school and paddle down the river that flows both ways and remember what that truly means," she said. "Hopefully we all remember that we need to keep this river and these lands clean and not contaminate the world we live in like we agreed 400 years ago."