Grade Six Students Learn About Wampum Belts

Grade Six Students Learn About Wampum Belts
Posted on 03/24/2023
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High Prairie Elementary School grade six students learned about the history of wampum belts this week and created some of their own.
These belts were traditionally created using 'wampum', which are beads made from clamshells. Often white or purple-toned, they were used by the Haudenosaunee people along the Atlantic coast many hundreds of years ago.
Much effort and time was taken to craft these intricate disc or tube-shaped beads, and they were considered sacred. The process of knotting wampum beads into a string or belt was a spiritual act done with meaning, and the belts held complex messages of intention and promise through their giving and acceptance. Speakers would hold them while telling their stories.
After European contact, the belts evolved to become larger and more descriptive, signifying sacred agreements, or treaties, through symbolization and metaphorism. These agreements were more than economic or legal negotiations and held deep meaning to the core, or heart.
They are the closest thing in existence to a written history, as Indigenous peoples were an oral society.
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