Thursday, 23rd September 2021
[ wom-puhm, wawm- ]
cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used by North American Indians as a medium of exchange, for ornaments, and for ceremonial and sometimes spiritual purposes.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF WAMPUM?
Wampum is a shortened form of wampumpeag, also spelled variously as wampampeak and wampompeage, and was borrowed from the Massachusett language, in which it roughly meant “white strings.” Massachusett was one of the original Indigenous languages of New England, along with Narragansett, Mohegan, Mahican, Maliseet, and Abenaki, among others; of all these, only Abenaki and Maliseet survive today. However, a dialect of Massachusett, Wampanoag (also known as Wôpanâak), is currently undergoing revitalization. These languages belong to the greater Algonquian family, which includes Cree and Ojibwe in Canada, Arapaho and Cheyenne in the Plains, and even Delaware and Powhatan along the East Coast. Wampum entered English in the early 1600s.
HOW IS WAMPUM USED?
Wampum is Indigenous, sacred and symbolic. Made from the purple and white shells of the quahog and whelk, the beads carry the history, culture and name of the Wampanoag people of Massachusetts, whose ancestors met the passengers of the Mayflower in 1620 and ensured their survival. "'WAMPUM: STORIES FROM THE SHELLS OF NATIVE AMERICA' JOINS MAYFLOWER 400 EXHIBITION THIS SUMMER AT THE BOX IN PLYMOUTH, UK", ARTFIXDAILY, APRIL 25, 2021
Cornplanter’s Pipe was gifted by Washington, between 1790 and 1794, most likely in 1792, during one of the Seneca delegation’s meetings in Philadelphia. It was a part of an elaborate exchange of medals, pipes, wampum and other tangible symbols of amity between the Haudenosaunee and the U.S. An integral part of Treaty making and diplomacy, gifts were vital signs of heroic labor to achieve and maintain peaceful relations. SUZAN SHOWN HARJO, "THREE-CENTURY WHODUNNIT: GIFTED, BURNED, STOLEN AND MAILED. CORNPLANTER’S PIPE COMES HOME," INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, MARCH 31, 2019