Bay of Quinte Tourism

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Author: Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

A Way of Recording History: Wampum Belts

A row of beaded purple and white belts hanging from a wooden rod.

Photos by Monika Kraska

RECORDING HISTORY Wampum are the small cylindrical beads originally made from the shell of the quahog, a round clam found in Atlantic coastal waters, that were traditionally used to create the intricate patterns of wampum belts.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 ...