Wampum is a traditional shell bead of the Eastern Woodlands tribes of the Indigenous People of North America. Wampum include the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell; and the white and purple shell beads from the Western North Atlantic quahog (KWA-hog) Clam found only along the coastlines of New England . Each quahog shell contains only a small amount of purple, making the purple beads much more rare and valuable over the white beads. The process of cutting and making beads is also very difficult and time consuming contributing to the great value they hold historically and today.
Wampum has been a powerful symbol of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture, and plays a significant role in preserving our culture & history. Historically, strings of wampum were used for storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and the recording of important treaties and historical events as in the case of the joining of the League of Nations (Iroquois Confederacy), it was used as a way to bind peace. More importantly, wampum was used ceremoniously to lift the hearts and minds of the people- by promoting Healing, Strength and Balance. Wampum is worn today as a reminder to use a good mind in our daily interactions and as a symbol of connection to our Roots and All of Life.