Buffy Curtis and Liseli Haines, Clinton NY
In 2013, nearly 500 Native and non-Native people came together to paddle, side by side, down the Hudson River from Albany, NY to New York City. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the original Two Row Wampum treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch, these adventurers committed to a two-week journey, experientially demonstrating what cooperative allyship can look like.
Within the non-native/settler row of canoes and kayaks, Liseli Haines and Buffy Curtis paddled a tandem kayak – the entire 150 miles. What had begun with a dinner conversation with Robin Kimmerer in the middle of a snowstorm two years before had become a reality that projected us in directions we had no idea were possible at the time….
Buffy Curtis and Liseli Haines paddling the Two Row
Liseli Haines is a life-long Quaker who has spent her life close to the land, has been a world traveler, a deeply committed Friend and Earthcaregiver.
Buffy Curtis is a life-long seeker, child of the water and sand, activist, Healer and convinced Friend of 30 years.
When we met while working at Powell House, the Quaker Retreat Center of New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) 15 years ago, there was instant connection; we had no clue about the journey that awaited us. Now, committed life-partners, the Two Row kayaking experience became the catalyst that has propelled us into a calling of helping to bring Truth and Healing between Friends and our Indigenous neighbors.
We have been helped in a variety of ways. The chance in 2014, to become facilitators of Paula Palmer’s “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change” workshop and all its subsequent unfolding opportunities, has opened amazing growth and learning experiences.
Liseli Haines, Buffy Curtis and Paula Palmer with George Fox Quilt at Pendle Hill
We serve on the Steering Committee of NOON, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, one of the two primary sponsors of the Two Row Campaign along with the Onondaga Nation, and the oldest ally organization in NY. It has provided education and connections for helping to create and facilitate the newest version of the KAIROS exercise, “Witness to Injustice” which is specific to the geographic area of the Haudenosaunee.
The invitation to present a week-long workshop on “Seeking Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples” at FGC Gathering has been another ongoing gift. We have co-facilitated TRR workshops in dozens of locations throughout the East, Michigan and Canada.
We both currently serve as Co-Clerks of the Indian Affairs Committee of NYYM, helping to raise awareness of the historical and immediate issues of Indigenous peoples. This precipitated a trip to Standing Rock as part of the Call to Interfaith Action in December 2016. Walking with Native Elders as our guides and companions has been indispensable.
The Haines family farm sits on several acres of beautiful, rural Oneida land previously lost to colonization and war. In the Fall of 2019, Liseli, the Traditional Oneida Women and Creator/Spirit came together to create the opportunity for nearly 30 acres of that land to be returned to its rightful caretakers. There is now a place, directly alongside the Mohawk Valley Quaker Meetinghouse, where traditional ceremony and songs are being heard again after hundreds of years!
Liseli Haines (center, red skirt) and Oneida women…
The work and honor of becoming facilitators of the TRR program has served as a remarkable vessel for providing all these gifts, teachings and skill building. The opportunity to change the hearts and minds of the hundreds of people this workshop has touched is priceless. As each one is affected and transformed – so are we – growing, learning, teaching and experiencing how to walk in truth together with ourselves, our faith and wider communities, and our newly found Indigenous sisters and brothers. We hold deep joy and gratitude for having been welcomed into this circle of Truth and Healing. Paula’s vision, expertise and faithfulness to this work co-creates an amazing community – deeply guided, grounded in Friendship and sorely needed in these challenging times.
Buffy Curtis and Liseli Haines