Brother, we the Sachems of the Six Nations will now tell our minds. The business of this treaty is to brighten the Chain of Friendship between us and the fifteen fires.
The Canandaigua Treaty is a treaty between the United States of America and the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy - Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. It was signed in Canandaigua, New York on November 11, 1794 by sachems representing the Grand Council of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and by Colonel Timothy Pickering who was the official agent of President George Washington. This treaty is sometimes called the "Pickering Treaty."
The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Nations sent 1600 representatives to the treaty council - the Seneca sending an impressive 800 representatives. The United States sent both Colonel Timothy Pickering and General Isarael Chapin. It was General Isarael Chapin who chose the treaty council site to be at Canandaigua, New York. Quaker representatives, led by William Savery of Philadelphia, also attended this treaty council. These Quaker mediators had been invited to the treaty negotiations by the Seneca people because Quakers were a trust-worthy, peaceful people who could read English and help to ensure fair negotiations.
The Canandaigua Treaty established peace and friendship between the young United States of America and the Six Nations. The Treaty also affirmed Haudenosaunee land rights - the Canandaigua Treaty restored to the Six Nations lands in western New York State that had been ceded by the Fort Stanwix Treaty. The Canandaigua Treaty also recognized the sovereignty of the Six Nations to govern and set laws as individual nations.
Some notable signatories of this treaty included Cornplanter (Seneca), Handsome Lake (Seneca), and Red Jacket (Seneca).
While the chain of friendship that embodies this treaty has been strained and there have been violations of the treaty, the treaty has never been broken and is still actively recognized by the Six Nations and the United States governments.
The Canandaigua Treaty Today
As part of its continued observance of the Canandaigua Treaty, the United States each year provides $4500 for the annual distribution of cloth to the Six Nations peoples. This annual distribution of cloth is 200+ year old affirmation of the obligations the United States government made in this treaty.
The Canandaigua Treaty Day Celebration, held each year on November 11 in Canandaigua, New York, is an event commerating the continued observance of this treaty by the Six Nations people.
Please see our Canandaigua Treaty Day Celebration webpage for more information on this year's commerative event!
For further information and resources on the Canandaigua Treaty and related information, please see the following articles.
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