What is wampum?

  • (noun): Small cylindrical beads made from polished shells and fashioned into strings or belts; used by certain Native American peoples as jewelry or currency.
    Synonyms: peag, wampumpeag
    See also — Additional definitions below


Wampum are traditional sacred shell beads of the Eastern Woodlands tribes of the indigenous people of North America. Wampum include the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell; and the white and purple beads made from the quahog, or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam. Woven belts of wampum have been created to commemorate treaties or historical events, and for exchange in personal social transactions, such as marriages. In colonial North America, European colonists often used wampum as currency for trading with Native Americans.

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Some articles on wampum:

Ron Allen (baseball) - Early Life
... Allen starred at Wampum High School alongside his older brothers, future baseball All-Star Dick Allen and outfielder-infielder Hank Allen ... Wampum captured the 1958 and 1960 state championship in basketball. 1,195 career points as a star forward and center for Wampum high school in Wampum Pennsylvania ...
Iroquois People - Government - Wampum Belts
... See also Wampum The term "wampum" refers to beads made from purple and white mollusk shells ... Species used to make wampum include the highly prized quahog clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) which produces the famous purple colored beads ... Wampum was primarily used to make wampum belts by the Iroquois ...
Native American Jewelry - Northeastern Woodlands
... The earliest beads are larger when compared to later beads and those of wampum, with hand drilled holes ... "Wampum" is a Wampanoag word referring to the white shells of the channeled whelk shell ... Wampum workshops were located among the Narragansett tribe, an Algonquian people located along the southern New England coast ...
Wampum - Symbolic Use
... The flag of the Iroquois Confederacy is a wampum-belt design ... Wampum is also part of the Coat of arms of New Brunswick ...
William Commanda - Band Chief and Rise To Prominence
1970, his community presented him with three sacred wampum belts, precious historical records and artifacts ... The three Wampum Belts that were under his care are the Seven Fires Prophecy Belt (considered a founding document of the Algonquin Nation) the Jay Treaty Border Crossing Belt and the Three Figure Welcoming/Agre ...

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