Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Remembering the "Pledge of the Crown"

The City of Hamilton and Six Nations Community Members
Joined to Commemorate the End of the War of 1812.

Representatives from the various Native Nations were invited to Dundurn National Historic Site on the 200th anniversary of the 1815 Peace Council, which was organized to acknowledge:
the Native Nations who were British allies during the war.
The public was invited to attend a free 'Remembering the Pledge of the Crown' on April 25, 2015. Admissions were free to Dundurn Castle and The Hamilton Military Museum on that day. All visitors could engage with hands-on lacrosse demonstrations, food samples, lectures, art activities and special exhibits. Events planned would be an opportunity to learn about the rich and diverse history of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) and other Native Nations who were British allies during the War of 1812.
The circular emblem depicts a star-like center displaying a native at each of 6 corners.
the outer edge is symbolized and imprinted ~

A Look Back: In April 1815, Native Nations who were allies of the British were invited to gather at Burlington Heights, by William Claus (then Superintendent of Indian Affairs). Over a 3-day gathering, Claus shared messages of peace and condolence. Following the customs of these Nations, he presented them with a 'wampum belt' called the 'Pledge of the Crown.' This gathering allowed Claus to reaffirm the Treaty of Ghent, which had formally ended the War of 1812 on December 24, 1814. The war saw many Native Nations torn between the treaty agreements they had made with the British and Americans and their personal and familial relationships and responsibilities.

'Burlington Heights' where Dundurn Castle stands today,
is a historic landscape of importance to Native Nations and Settlers.

The area had served as hunting, fishing and farming grounds for thousands of years. This was recognized by Richard Beasley, the first Settler to live on the heights. Once, established there, Beasley traded locally with the Six Nations of the Grand River, as well as the Mississauga Nation.

From June 1, 1813 to September 1, 1815, Burlington Heights was used as a British encampment and fortification at the head of Lake Ontario. It was from Burlington Heights that the attack against the American Post at Stoney Creek was launched on June 6, 1813. The geographic location of Burlington Heights made it the only truly defensive position between Fort George and York (capital city of Upper Canada). The British records indicate that representatives from several tribes met with Claus and officers of the British Indian Department.

Notification of the foregoing intrigued me to such an extent
that I researched answers to my mind's inquiries...which I share with you.

Wampum are traditional shell beads of the Eastern Woodlands tribes of the indigenous people of North America. Wampum includes the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled 'whelk shell'; and the purple and white beads made from the quahog or Western Atlantic hard-shelled clam. They are short tubular-shaped beads. The Eastern Woodlands in north-east United States encompasses New York State and the immediate surrounding areas.

Wampum Belts are used as a guide to narrate Haudenosaunee history, traditions and laws. The original 'wampum belts' can be traced to Aiionwatha....commonly known as Hiawatha at the Founding of the League of Five Nations. Today's Haudenosaunee is the Six Nations of the Iroquois: Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora and Seneca. The Iroquois, originally called themselves Kanonsionni...meaning 'people of the Longhouse'...their habitation homes.

This Wampum Belt was created by the British
to represent the ongoing relationship after the War of 1812.
The pattern may have derived from an ancient design of two colours
called the Meander or Golden Key.

Colonel William Claus (then Indian Agent) stated, “The Wampum Belt is often used to represent the interwoven bonds of love and friendship. This belt, which I now hand to you, I ask in compliance with your Customs, be sent by you with these, my words in his behalf, to all Nations in friendship with your Great Father, the King of England. I am further instructed to inform you that in making Peace with the Government of the United States of America, your interests were not neglected...nor would Peace have been made with them, had they not consented to include you in the Treaty...which they at first, refused to listen to. I will now repeat to you, one of the 'Articles of the Treaty of Peace' which secures to you the 'Peaceable Possession of all the country which you possessed before the late war...and the road is now open for you to pass and repass without interruption.”

In 1887, Onondaga Chief John Beck...the Wampum Keeper at the time, stated,
This belt represented a Pledge by the Canadian Government
to never force the Haudenosaunee (The Six Nations)
to change their customs.”

Information garnered by Merle Baird-Kerr...April 19, 2015
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