This summer my husband dragged me into the Archives and Collections Society on the Main Street of Picton, Ontario. It is “a not-for-profit charity dedicated to marine conservation, research and education.”
He was enthralled with the classic yachts and stacks of reference material.
I immediately zeroed in on this, the Silver Covenant Chain:
Friendship. Peace. Respect. This wasn’t just a chain. I located the Executive Director, Paul Adamthwaite, and asked about the significance. Forty-five minutes and many topic tangents later I was even more captivated by it.
Here is an extract from the Archives and Collections Society website:
“That chain was first represented by the Silver Covenant Chain in 1677 and was incorporated into sacred wampum belt designs that linked the King of England to the Mohawk and their brother nations, collectively known as the Haudenosaunee, or Five [later Six] Nations Iroquois Confederacy. The protocols around the use of wampum for diplomatic purposes was firmly entrenched in both Mohawk and Loyalist tradition. In the past, the Silver Chain was “polished” from time to time to reaffirm peaceful relations, resolve disputes and renew respect and friendship. It is in that spirit of polishing the chain that we present this exhibition to honour the ongoing relationship between the First Nations and the County, as the descendants of Loyalists represented by the Crown.”
Today, I was told, the Silver Chain is taken to schools were it is polished. The response by the students has been gratifying. They see the necessity of polishing Friendship, Peace, and Respect. They welcome it into their school life.
I asked Paul Adamthwaite if I could take his picture beside the Silver Covenant Chain since he had been so enthusiastic with his information. Declining he said, “It’s not about one person.”
In 2011 I ask you to reflect on this symbolism of 1677. It’s more than establishing an atmosphere of Friendship, Peace, and Respect. It’s maintaining it, polishing it, as it insidiously tarnishes.
Paul was right in saying it’s not about one person, but it does start with each of us.
Friendship Peace Respect
p.s. The next time you’re touring the wineries of Prince Edward County pop into The Archives and Collections Society to see the Silver Covenant Chain. Paul is overflowing with information!