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Canandaigua Treaty of 1794

Brother: We are of the same opinion with the People of the United States, you call yourselves free and independent, we as the Ancient inhabitants of this Country and sovereigns of the soil, say that we are equally free as you, or as any other nation, or nations under the sun...

Clear Sky, Onondaga Sachem

to General Israel Chapin

21st April 1794

Council at Buffalo Creek

Painting depicting the signing of the Canandaigua Treaty outside of the Canadaigua Courthouse between US governemnt officials and Haudenosaunee

"The Great Treaty of Canandaigua" by Robert Griffing

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.

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.

- Red Jacket

George Washington Belt

Haudenosaunee leaders holding wampum belts.jpg

Image from 2022 Canandaigua Treaty Commemoration. Photo by Alex Hamer.

Learn More

Treaty of Canandaigua 1794, Edited by G. Peter Jemison and Anna M. Schein. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers

The Great Chain, Covenant, or George Washington Belt was the belt George Washington had made and had presented to the Haudenosaunee in 1794 at the Canandaigua Treaty. The belt is six feet long and features human figures and a longhouse. Thirteen human figures symbolize the young and newly formed United States of America. Two figures and the house symbolize the Haudenosaunee - the figures represent the Mohawk (Keepers of the Eastern Door) and the Seneca (Keepers of the Western Door). Each of the figures are linked by a wampum belt to form a chain of friendship which represents the alliance between the United States and the Haudenosaunee confederacy.

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 commemorating 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!

Haudenosaunee White House Meeting

Filmed and edited by Gwendolen Cates

Film & included text by Gwendolyn Cates 

On February 22, 2016, Haudenosaunee leaders met with U.S. officials at the White House in Washington, DC to commemorate and formally acknowledge the Canandaigua Treaty. The treaty was signed on November 11, 1794, and ratified by President George Washington on February 21, 1795, 300 years and one day before this historic meeting.


Please open this link to read the text of the treaty:


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