The Kaswentha (Two Row Wampum)

The Haudenosaunee are comprised of six nations of people who practice very sophisticated yet simple diplomatic principles in their dealings with other Nations. Those principles are conveyed and reiterated through Wampum Belts

The kaswentha is a sacred Wampum Belt that is the basis of agreements between Haudenosaunee nations and other nations of people. It is regarded as an important covenant agreement that sets the framework for future agreement

When the Haudenosaunee first encountered the representatives of Eastern European nations, they found that the Europeans were unaware of these principles, and that they had the potential to disrupt the peaceful exitence that Haudenosaunee nations had secured for their people. The Haudenosaunee believed that it was essential that these newcomers learn the principles required to bold a relationship with them, based on peace, friendship and mutual respect.

The first newcomers and all those afterward were introduced to the Kaswentha or Two Row Wampum Belt which embodied the principals of Peace, Friendship and Mutual Respect. These principles formed the basis of the numerous treaties and agreements between Haudenosaunee and non-Haudenosaunee nations.

The Kaswentha or Two row Wampum Belt is a visual instrument that was made with two parallel rows of Purple Wampum on a bed of white beads
• The background of white Beads was meant to symbolize the purity of the agreement and some say that is represents the "River of Life".
• The two separate rows of Purple beads, were made to symbolize and encompass the two separate peoples who was incorporated in the agreement. Some say it also represents the spirits of Haudenosaunee and non-Haudenosaunee people, past, present and future.
• Between the two rows of Purple beads, are three rows of white beads. These were made to stand for the Friendship, Peace and Respect between the two nations. As much as the three rows keep the two nations separate, it also binds them together.

Some say that the two rows of purple beads represent two separate vessels traveling parallel to each other down the `River of Life'. The Haudenosaunee are in their canoes. This symbolizes their culture, laws, traditions, customs and life-ways. The non Haudenosaunee are said is be in their ship, which symbolizes everything that they carry in their culture, laws, traditions, customs and lifeways.

It is said that each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the River of Life side by side. It it is further said that, neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other, or interfere or impede the travel of the other.

 

The Kaswentha or Two Row Wampum is a treaty of respect for the dignity and integrity of the other nation, and stresses the importance of non-interference of one nation in the business of the other. The early principles established in the Kaswentha formed the basis of all Haudenesaunee treaties with other nations including the Dutch, the French, the British and the the Americans.