Haudenosaunee Engagement Policy

The Principles of Engagement: The Covenant Chain of Peace is one of the sources of this policy.  It is a time-honoured legal protocol that all of our governments have used to address issues of mutual concern.  That tradition called for the "repolishing" of the Covenant Chain, which is symbolized as a three-link silver chain.  To the Haudenosaunee, the Government-to-Government Engagement Policy is the way by which this repolishing will take place.  New aspects of our relationship will be clarified.  Our relationship will be renewed.

The Covenant Chain is based upon three principles that our Engagement Policy reflects:

  1. Peace must be maintained.  We will use the power of reason to arrive at peaceful solutions.  Our objective is to assure that no one will be harmed by any action to be taken.  To us, peace is the result of fairness.
  2. Respect must be given to all parties.  We will use common respect, encouraging words and find ways that show respect to all parties and in turn we will expect that our laws and jurisdiction be respected.
  3. Friendship must be evident.  We will speak honestly and forthright, not attempting to deceive each other.

The Political Protocol of Engagement: The Haudenosaunee have a treaty relationship with the Crown.  That relationship is more than a written document or single wampum belt.  The relationship is a commitment to respect our sovereignty, land rights, cultural rights and human rights.  It is a commitment to communicate respectfully.  At the same time, the relationship is dependent upon timely engagement to address issues that arise from time to time.  We commit to the negotiations necessary to resolve the matters peacefully.

The Reasons for Engagement:

Engagement is required when one of three following events occur:

  1. When difficulties arise between our people over matters of jurisdiction, land, hunting and gathering, environmental planning, policing etc., we must work at ensuring that Haudenosaunee jurisdiction is respected.
  2. When proposed laws, policies, programs or practices impact on the lands, or may affect the right of our people to maintain their identity, rights interests.
  3. When the Haudenosaunee request such engagement due to issues of concern.  From time to time, we will initiate a request for engagement by advising of the source of our concern and the manner  in which we would like to proceed.

The Procedures of Engagement: Engagement is a formal process.  Engagement is also meant to better inform all parties as to the nature, dimensions and possible consequences of an action to be addressed.  Open and honest communication is key to the entire process. The first step in engagement is to identify the causes of concern and agree that these are matters of state.  This process will usually be commenced by way of our application process. The second step is to formerly convene the engagement.  This would be with an exchange of letters to confirm the matters and the appointment of authorized officials to deal with matters. The third step is to have the authorized officials develop a work plan to address the matters, with concrete mandates, mutually agreed upon strategies and clearly defined expected outcomes. The fourth step is to conduct the engagement and work at defining solutions.  The authorized officials will develop and sign a proposed solution plan - an agreement in principle. The fifth step will be to have each government review and approve the proposed solution plan, thereby making it the final result of the engagement. The sixth step would be a plan to implement the approved plan.  This may require additional engagement meetings to work out the details. The seventh step would be to implement and monitor the approved plan.  From time to time, adjustments to the plan may be necessary due to changing circumstances or unforeseen consequences.  This may require additional engagement meetings to work out the details.

There is no specific timeframe for engagement, as it will vary significantly based upon the nature of the discussion and the cultural and spiritual obligations of the Haudenosaunee from time to time.   Our process of consensus building takes time. The earlier that engagement is started the better for all.

Approval of the Engagement Any government-to-government agreement is not considered legal until such a time as it is formerly adopted by the Council of the Chiefs, which will provide written verification of the adoption of the agreement by the Haudenosaunee, by way of the Secretary of the Council.