FIRST CUSTOM ORDER FOR A WAMPUM BELT! HERE IS THE HAPPY OWNER…
A NATIVE AMERICAN LOOKING TO CARRY ON THE TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS IN HIS 4TH GRADE CLASSROOM AT THOMAS EDISON ELEMENTARY IN KENMORE, NY AND AT HOME! THE FIVE FEATHERS ARE A SYMBOL OF UNITY FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY.
HERE IS SOME OF THE HISTORY OF WAMPUM BELTS:
How did someone weaving wampum
decide which colors to use?
Different colors had different meanings:
White wampum meant health, peace or purity.
Purple and black wampum sometimes meant disease, distress, pain, or anger, particularly when used as a background colors in belt patterns.
A wampum belt painted red could be sent to someone as a way of declaring war.
A combination of these colors together helped to tell a story. For example a belt could have white designs on a purple background, and be surrounded by a white border, and so show that a relationship that was once violent is now peaceful.
Designs had meanings too:
A black cloud could mean something bad happened, or could be a sign of war.
A sunshine or a straight path of beads could be a sign of peace.
A black bird could mean bad news, while a white or yellow bird could mean good news.
A design showing a fire being made could be a sign of wanting to discuss what was happening between two groups of people.
MINE IS HAND KNIT WITH PURPLE AND WHITE BEADS ON THE EDGES.
I USED 4-PLY ACRYLIC YARN THAT IS MACHINE WASH AND DRY FOR EASY CARE!
What was Wampum used for?
Wampum had many purposes.
1. Storytelling: As in the novel Guests by Michael Dorris, wampum could be used to help people remember stories. Often, story-tellers would hold belts and point to certain parts of the belt while they told their story.
2. Adding on to History: New events were woven into a belt or added on to a belt to tell the history of a tribe.
3. Asking for marriage: Sometimes, a man who met a woman he wanted to marry would give wampum to the woman and her family. If the wampum was accepted it showed that the woman and her family said “yes” to the idea of the marriage. If they returned the wampum, they were saying “no.”
4. Gifts: Belts were also give to people as gifts. Belts could be given from one tribe to another a way of indicating peace, war, or friendship.
5. To show an agreement between two groups of people: After European people came to America, wampum was sometimes used as a “treaty”– a way of showing an agreement between the white people and Indian people.
6. To declare war or request peace between two groups: Wampum could be given from one group to another as a way of declaring war or requesting peace.
But I heard Wampum was used as a form of money…
Before European people came to North America and started trading with Indians, wampum was NOT used for money.
After Europeans came, however, it was sometimes used for money. For instance, a certain number of white and a certain number of purple beads could equal a “penny.” When wampum started being used for money, many people (European people as well, not just Indian people) started making lots of beads. This lead to the creation of lower quality and less artistic beads. Since anyone could find shells to make them from, people made so many beads that wampum eventually lost its value as a form of money.
Thank you to toolboxpro.org and grinnell.edu for sharing the history of the Wampum Belt!