A Treaty Guide for Torontonians

The Covenant Chain, 1667

alt text

The Dutch are defeated by the English in 1667 and assume Dutch responsibilities in the Two Row Alliance with the Haudenosaunee. To maintain the relationship, the English must become fluent in Haudenosaunee diplomacy. They begin to use the metaphoric language and embodied gestures of treaty diplomacy used by the Haudenosaunee. By following Indigenous treaty Protocol at regular Councils, they signal their agreement that treaties are not static; both parties commit to ensuring the best outcome for each other and all their relations.

The Mohawk-Dutch Two Row Wampum agreement evolves into the Haudenosaunee-British Covenant Chain. This alliance assumes that there will be conflict and that the Chain needs to be regularly “polished” to sustain the relationship. At periodic Council meetings, British and Haudenosaunee representatives hold each other to account, exact justice for transgressions, and demand loyalty and fairness. They negotiate trade, set the prices of trade goods, and make requests for military assistance from each other. The British promise to investigate and settle compensation for murders. For the Haudenosaunee, the Covenant Chain remains the foundation of their relationship with the Crown to this day. As British settlement proceeds in New England, however, fraudulent land cessions and uses of land that are not welcome by the Haudenosaunee become a serious issue.

Over time, the Covenant Chain alliance will affect all nations living in the Toronto area.

Being part of the alliance keeps the road to trade clear, maintains a delicate balance of power, and serves as a check on French territorial ambitions that threaten both the British and Haudenosaunee. But these arrangements require many revisits. As the alliance deepens from a trading relationship to a military and political alliance, the way the pact is visualized and spoken about changes. Since the origin of the agreement with the Dutch, it has gained strength through its talk, though it is under the constant strain of the colonial ambitions of the English.