The Two-Row Wampum teachings are critical – Grand Chief Nepinak

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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with Ryan McMahon and the Two Row Wampum Belt
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with Ryan McMahon and the Two Row Wampum Belt

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with Ryan McMahon and the Two Row Wampum Belt
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with Ryan McMahon and the Two Row Wampum Belt

WINNIPEG – OPINION – The Two-Row Wampum teachings are critical for many of us original people at this time of confused principles, values, understandings, actions and political philosophies. Thanks for sharing this belt with us at the Treaty 1-11 gathering Ryan McMahon..!

As I attempt to preserve my own personal Constitution, protect my sovereignty, I often find myself retreating to my base principles to reflect on whether my actions are true to my Constitution. The Two-Row wampum teachings make sense to me. Being that they make sense, I incorporate the teachings into my truth, and try to remain true by holding fast to the teachings. The two-row wampum is a gift from our great philosophers and leaders of the past, our ancestors.

They were the first to be forced to consider and collaborate on respectful ways of working and living alongside our new relatives from across the water. Their truths should be held to the highest regard because they lived in the time when contact was galvanized into a new reality that we have lived with ever since.

They taught us that one could respect the ways of others, while expecting that our ways should be honoured, respected and not interfered with as well. To honour the ancestors understandings of that time, is to honour one’s self in this life time….

Once I move beyond my own personal Constitution however, I know that there are a great number of our people who have witnessed, along with me, a great compromise or breach in two-row wampum values within our collectivity as indigenous peoples.

It sits uneasy in our consciousness. Some cannot explain the feeling in their daily lives, but they know something is wrong.

I would suggest that the uneasiness is the realization that a cornerstone of many our personal constitutions has been breached. The two-row wampum treaty holds strong though, forever present. It cannot be broken, only ignored, and the effects of ignorance, or even wilful blindness are perpetuated everyday by the Indian Act, and a host of other policies and laws that compromise our truths……..

As part of my Constitution, holding true to my truth as best I can, I will not go to the other ship, ever. I will always be in our canoe, paddling with my brothers and sisters, all my relations, until I can no longer hold the paddle.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak,
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

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