In central New York State at the end of beautiful Canandaigua Lake there is the village of Canandaigua. Here there is a stone marker pointing out the place where the famous Pickering or Canandaigua Treaty took place. This historic event, occurring here on Nov. 11, 1794, was the treaty which established peace and friendship between the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy and the United States. Over 1,600 Indians were present when this treaty was signed. The State of New York as an English and Dutch colony, had made treaties with the Six Nations. She planned to continue this practice as a sovereign state. George Washington sent his Secretary of War, Colonel Pickering, here to show the state officials at Albany that from that day on the Federal Government alone would have the right to make treaties with Indians. Thus this treaty became the foundation for federal control of Indian affairs. New York State’s leading citizens resented the federal authority and interference since most of them had money invested in Indian land companies. Even the State of Massachusetts resented this interference because she, also sought the country of the Iroquois. The title of several leading cities of New York State including the city of Buffalo, remain clouded today because of the assumed rights of certain states of that day.
Among promises made by the United States in this treaty was that the United States acknowledged the lands reserved to the Six Nations to be the property of the Six Nations and the United States would never disturb or claim lands, that the land was to remain theirs until they choose to sell the same to the United States, who alone, have the right to purchase.
The Six Nations held the treaty inviolate, although had it been kept by the white men, all western New York would have comprised one huge reservation. In token of this treaty the United States still gives each Iroquois 3 or 4 yards of calico cloth each autumn. The Iroquois today live in hopes that the white citizens of the State and Nation will see that the promises of justice and fair play promised in this treaty will be carried out. They, themselves, have kept the faith for over 150 years. ‘At the present time “big interests” are trying to pass bills through Congress that will break this treaty.’
There are three copies of the original treaty. One is held by the Tonawanda Seneca Nations, its custodian, Chief Norman Parker; one is held by the Ontario County Museum at Canandaigua and one is held in the Congressional Library at Washington, D. C.
From Canandaigua the Mohawks headed west, still following the ancient Central Trail of the great Iroquois Confederacy. At several places along this highway they saw markers telling that this modern road followed the Great Trail of the Longhouse.