The original wampum belts still exist and are now held by the Chiefs at Onondaga, New York and Six Nations of the Grand River.
The belts that are for sale here are replicas, and used for educational purposes at all levels. Wampum (Onekorha – Mohawk language) was much prized by the Iroquois and the Eastern Algonquians. It was made of white and purple quahog or conch shells.
Wampum beads were strung into belts and strings. The Iroquois attached great importance to the power of the beads. Strings of wampum were used to sanction council proceedings, to vouch for the integrity of a speaker, to give responsibility to an office, to solemnize a treaty or to assuage sorrow. Messages of particular importance were also made into strings and sent by a runner among the Six Nations Iroquois. The Onondagas, traditional Keepers of the Council Fire, were also Keepers of the League wampums.
After the American Revolution, wampum took on a new significance with the founding of the teachings of Handsome Lake and wampum is used to lend authority and solemnity to religious ceremonies.
In 1973, Yvonne Thomas created blueprints from the photographs of the original wampum belt collection held at the New York State Museum and the knowledge shared here is for the ongoing perpetuity and educational purposes in the Iroquois community.
Our wampum belts and strings have been re-created with the use of glass beads. Workshops are held periodically at the Jake Thomas Learning Centre to teach how the wampum bead is made from the quahog shell.
Note: this page is being updated with images & descriptions of our reproduction wampum belts with Paypal. This feature will allow you to purchase our belts online. Please contact us for more information. Nia:wen/Thank you.
Payment must be received and cleared by a banking institution before shipment. E-transfers also accepted. Please allow up to 2 weeks for our Reproduction Wampum Belts to be shipped.
Please contact Yvonne Thomas on orders, payment and shipping options as well as information on our Workshops.
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