I learned about “A Dish with One Spoon” Treaty from yesterday lecture “A second cup of tea and a few more stories: Deepening our understanding of Indigenization” by two indigenous women scholars on indigenizing the academy (see more)
Dr. Ruth Koleszar-Green said that it is a treaty of peacemaking, represented by the wampum belts, which is the law, that says the dish has more than enough for all of us, so don’t take more than you need and make sure that everyone also has what they need. She said that we all use one spoon, and no one is gonna use to knife to dice the dish to make it even. The spoon represents that we will not bring weapon.
My mind went, “Isn’t that what we have been teaching at the Ecovillage? Every time at our Gratitude Circle before meal, we would say ‘there’s enough food for all of us if we don’t eat like a North American. Take what you need for the first round and make sure that everyone has their first before you go for seconds.” The village culture is a reindignezing practice.
Later I came home, and searched about “A Dish With One Spoon”. I found out from another indigenous woman scholar Lee Maracle, that “A Dish With one Spoon is a Haudenosaunee Confederacy law called the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace.
I looked up documentation online, and I found out (via this article) that it is stated in the Great Law of Peace,
“[that] it will turn out well for us to do this: we will say, ‘We promise to have only one dish among us; in it will be beaver tail and no knife will be there’… We will have one dish, which means that we will all have equal shares of the game roaming about in the hunting grounds and fields, and then everything will become peaceful among all of the people; and there will be no knife near our dish; which means that if there is a knife were there, someone might presently get cut, causing bloodshed, and this is troublesome, should it happen thus, and for this reason there should be no knife near our dish. [Concerning the League, p. 458]
On April 7, 1757, Thomas Butler wrote to Sir William Johnson about a meeting between the Haudenosaunee and the French at Montreal. According to his report, the Haudenosaunee told the French:
“…we can’t write but know all that has past between us having good memories.
after the Warrs & troubles we together met you at this place where every trouble was buried & a fire kindled here. Where was to meet and Treat peaceably; you are daily now working disturbances and Seem to forget the old agreement &c. The Tree Seems to be falling, let it be now put up the Roots spread and the leaves flourish as before. You formerly said take this bowl and this meat with this Spoon let us Eat always friendly together out the one Dish but you now forget and have separated the Indians very much So as they can’t well come together To Eat out this Dish which is very hard as we have children here & there Scatred through ye Country by your Means.
The English your Brothers & you are the common disturbers of this Country. I say you white people together. We term the English your Brothers as you must have some. We Indians you call Children you both want to put us Indians a quarreling but we the Six Nations know better if we begin We see nothing but an Intire Ruin of us as we would leve of till all was Gone. So we are Resolved to keep Friends on both sides as long at possible & not meddle with the Hatchet but endeavor always To pacify the white people Our arms shall be between you endeavoring to keep you a Sunder.”[Sir William Johnson Papers, II, 705]
At the University of Waterloo Indigenous Speakers Series 2018, Lee Maracle said at her speech that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is a 1000 years old confederacy, that “A Dish with One Spoon” is the oldest form of democracy happened on this land, when five nations agreed to respect each other’s cultures and languages together. “Even nations fought among nations, they honor and respect each other.”
She ended the speech with this, “Imagine, 168 nations of peoples are in Toronto, probably a 100 nations in the Guelph area. All kinds of knowledge, all kinds of stories, all kinds of art; all kinds of sensibility, religions, philosophies, we could learn from that. We could put these things together. We could recreate the world. And Canada is fit for that. We could create intellectuals who have a powerful sense of cultural theory that embraces the people of the world that are right here. Intact memories, seeking to contribute to this great new land because it’s new now….”
Intact memories seeking to contribute. But the premise is, don’t forget everything you/I learned from your/my own people.
We have a chance to get there.