Traditional Wampum

Today, there are few native craftspeople recreating Wampum work. Wampum beads originally from the Quahog round clam shell of the eastern Canada and New England coast were used for communications and treaties amongst North American native tribes, and later in 1600s and 1700s, with Europeans. When supply of Quahog dwindled, Europeans imported glass wampum beads from Czechoslovakia, which Natives used in same manner as Quahog shell wampum.

Belts or strings of wampum beads were not only used as ornamentation, but often told a story and as a pledge of truth of the words being spoken when such belts were held or worn.

The pattern of the bead work also had meaning that represented values and life lessons. Some of the patterns are, adoption, adoption with 4 directions, seven directions, five nations, six nations, unity, warrior, warrior in two worlds, two row, three sisters, and council fire of six nations.