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A Way of Recording History: Wampum Belts

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Wampum are the small cylindrical beads originally made from the shell of the quahog, a round clam found in Atlantic coastal waters, that were traditionally used to create the intricate patterns of wampum belts. These belts are used as a guide to narrate the history of the Haudenosaunee, and empower the person holding it as a representative of their people.

The original process of making the wampum beads by hand was arduous. Once found, the shell was broken into white and purple cubes that were clamped in place while a stone or reed drill was used to bore into the cube. Each bead took many hours to forge, and a single string could take up to a year to finish. When completed, the wampum belts would act as treaties, to hold memories and create bonds between nations.

True wampum is scarce today, and many belts have been lost or are in museums. Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na Language and Cultural Centre had a collection of belts recreated, which are used today for teaching purposes. You can see wampum belts like the ones pictured to the right at the annual pow wow held every August in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.


This belt recalls the time when the Peacemaker combed the snakes from Tadadaho’s hair and changed the evil-minded Tadadaho into a pure-thinking leader. The diamonds down the center of the belt represent the thirteen other chiefs who are sitting with Tadadaho at Onondaga to continue the ways of the Haudenosaunee.


This belt is a national belt of the Haudenosaunee. The belt is named after Hiawatha, the Peacemaker’s helper. This belt records when five nations—the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk—buried their weapons of war to live in peace. Each square represents a nation, and the line connects all the nations in peace.

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The Bay of Quinte RMB Land Acknowledgement

The Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board is committed to acknowledging, appreciating and understanding the Indigenous peoples’ historic connection to this land and to raising awareness by building relationships in collaboration with Indigenous partners and communities. 

We recognize and acknowledge that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Mississauga, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee which includes the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte) with whom we work in direct partnership with. 

This partnership focuses on the common goal of celebrating the region with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka who are equal partners within the organization and at the Board of Directors table contributing to the mandate and operations.

This mandate includes listening to, learning from, and collaborating with the Kenhtè:ke Kanyen’kehá:ka and actively incorporating their culture and heritage into the practice of responsible destination marketing and management of the region.

We understand that this land acknowledgement is only a small step towards the larger process of reparations and reconciliation.

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