Two-Row Wampum

The Two Row Wampum treaty, also known as Guswhenta or Kaswhenta, is an agreement such as that made between representatives of League of Great Peace (Five Nations) and  representatives of the VOC / Dutch government in 1613 in what is now upstate New York. This treaty is considered by the Ka-nyen-geh-ha-kah to be the basis of all subsequent treaties with European and North American governments, including the Covenant Chain treaty with the British in 1677.

Four Mohawk Kings painted by Jan Verelst, 1710. From left to right:
Etow Oh KoamSa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth TowHo Nee Yeath Taw No Row and Tee Yee Ho Ga Row.
(National Archives of Canada – Artist: Jan Verelst)

The Four Mohawk Kings or Four Kings of the New World were three Mohawk chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy and a Mahican of the Algonquian peoples. The three Mohawk were: Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow of the Bear Clan, called King of Maguas, with the Christian name Peter Brant, grandfather of Joseph Brant; Ho Nee Yeath Taw No Row of the Wolf Clan, called King of Canajoharie (“Great Boiling Pot”), or John of Canajoharie; and Tee Yee Ho Ga Row, meaning “Double Life”, of the Wolf Clan, also called Hendrick Tejonihokarawa or King Hendrick. The Mahican chief was Etow Oh Koam of the Turtle Clan, mistakenly labeled in his portrait as Emperor of the Six Nations. The Algonquian-speaking Mahican people were not part of the Iroquois Confederacy. Five chiefs set out on the journey, but one died in mid-Atlantic.The four Native American leaders visited Queen Anne in 1710 as part of a diplomatic visit organised by Pieter Schuyler, mayor of Albany, New York. They were received in London as diplomats, being transported through the streets of the city in Royal carriages, and received by Queen Anne at the Court of St. James Palace. They also visited the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In addition to requesting military aid for defence against the French, the chiefs asked for missionaries to offset the influence of French Jesuits, who had converted numerous Mohawk to Catholicism. Queen Anne informed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Tenison. A mission was authorized, and Schuyler had a chapel built the next year at Fort Hunter (located near the Mohawk “Lower Castle” village). Queen Anne sent a gift of a silver Communion set and a reed organ. The Mohawk village known as the “Lower Castle” became mostly Christianized in the early 18th century, unlike the “Upper Castle” at Canajoharie further upriver. No mission was founded until William Johnson, the British agent to the Iroquois, built the Indian Castle Church in 1769.

To commemorate the visit, the Crown commissioned Jan Verelst to paint the portraits of the Four Kings. These paintings hung in Kensington Palace until 1977 when Queen Elizabeth II had them relocated to the National Archives of Canada. She unveiled them in Ottawa.


4 responses to “Two-Row Wampum”

  1. Lindsay says :

    Who is the artist? I’d like to feature it on the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign’s twitter and facebook feed and would like to give proper credit. Many thanks. You can check us out @HonorTheTwoRow

  2. running elk says :

    can you put up here some information on the french belts and the obligations by the french i have learned my family had a connection through my mothers side the trottier de beaubein family i would study it and approach the french royals about there continuing obligations as they seem to have forgotten them
    thank you

    • Mohawk Workers - Kanata says :

      Oui. Nous avons beaucoup d’informations ayant trait à nos relations de longue date avec les Français. S’il vous plaît garder un oeil sur notre page intitulée «covenants». Merci de votre intérêt et de votre soutien. Yes. We have a lot of information pertaining to our longstanding relationships with the French. Please keep an eye on our page entitled ‘covenants’. Thanks for your interest and for your support.

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