On The Meaning of Renewing the Relationship Between the Dutch and Haudenosaunee Peoples: The Two Row Wampum Treaty After 400 Years


  • Marc Woons


In September 2013, a group of three Haudenosaunee leaders made the long voyage from Turtle Island (North America) to The Hague in the Netherlands to mark not only the annual celebration of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but extraordinarily the four-hundredth anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty between the Dutch and Haudenosaunee peoples. On the occasion, the Haudenosaunee leaders and the Dutch Human Rights Ambassador exchanged gifts and shook hands to symbolize the renewal of the Treaty’s principles of peace and friendship. This paper looks beyond that important occasion by analyzing the likelihood of the Dutch taking the steps necessary to renew such principles and ultimately to honor the Treaty four centuries later. Based on the evidence, the Dutch are doing less than ever before to honor the Two Row Wampum Treaty. The main claim, therefore, is that if the Dutch truly wish to live up the Treaty, they will have to begin by recognizing the proper place of Haudenosaunee sovereignty on Turtle Island even if that involves taking steps that might strain relations with the United States and Canada.


Borrows, J. (2002). Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Bull, H. (2002). The Anarchical Society. 3 rd edition. London: Macmillan.

Canada. (2006). Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Report. 5 vols. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Drees, L. M. (1995). Introduction to Documents One through Five: Nationalism, the League of Nations, and the Six Nations of Grand River. Native Studies Review, vol. 10(1), 75–88.

Fleras, A. (1991). Aboriginal Electoral Districts for Canada: Lessons from New Zealand. In R. A. Milen (Ed.), Aboriginal Peoples and Electoral Reform in Canada (pp. 67–103). Toronto: Dundurn Press.

Hemmis, T. C. (2011). Mohawk-Mahican War (1624-1628). The Encyclopedia of War. doi: 10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow421

Johansen, B. E. (2006). The Native Peoples of North America: A History, Volume 1. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Ladner, K. (2003). The Alienation of Nation: Understanding Aboriginal Electoral Participation. Electoral Insight, vol. 5(3), 21–26.

MacLellan, S. (2013, November 12). First Nations veteran arrested at Remembrance Day ceremony. Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/11/12/first_nations_veteran_arrested_at_remembrance_day_ceremony.html

Murphy, M. (2008). Representing Indigenous Self-Determination. The University of Toronto Law Journal, vol. 58, 185–216.

Notzke, C. (1995). A New Perspective in Aboriginal Natural Resource Management: Co-Management. Geoforum, vol. 26(2), 187–209.

Otto, P., & Jacobs, J. (2013). Introduction: Historians and the Public Debate about the Past. Journal of Early American History, vol. 3(1), 1–8. doi:10.1163/18770703-00301006

Payne, S. B., Jr. (1996). The Iroquois League, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, vol. 53(3), 605–620.

Penikett, T. (2006). Reconciliation: First Nations Treaty Making in British Columbia. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre.

Pitty, R. (2014). Restoring Indigenous Self-Determination through Relational Autonomy and Transnational Mediation. In M. Woons (Ed.), Restoring Indigenous Self-Determination: Theoretical and Practical Approaches. Bristol, UK: E-IR Publishing.

Ramaker, M. (2013, September 14). Irokezen vieren band met Nederland [Iroquois celebrate ties with The Netherlands]. Trouw, 11.

Schwartz, D., & Gollom, M. (2013, October 19). N.B. fracking protests and the fight for aboriginal rights. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/n-b-fracking-protests-and-the-fight-for-aboriginal-rights-1.2126515

UN General Assembly. (2007, October 2). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, A/RES/61/295. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/471355a82.html

Wiemers, S. (2013, January 3). De indianen rekenen terecht op Nederland [Indians rightly count on the Netherlands]. de Volkskrant. Retrieved from http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2844/Archief/archief/article/detail/3371397/2013/01/03/De-indianen-rekenen-terecht-op-Nederland.dhtml

Williams, M. (2004). Sharing the River: Aboriginal Representation in Canada Political Institutions. In D. Laycock (Ed.), Representation and Democratic Theory (pp. 93–118). Vancouver: UBC Press.

Williams, R.A., Jr. (1994). Linking Arms Together: Multicultural Constitutionalism in a North American Indigenous Vision of Law and Peace. California Law Review, vol. 82(4), 981–1049.