Wampum is shell beads made from the interior of quahog shells (black or purple wampum) and whelk shells (white wampum). Most were in small disk shaped but some were also long thick and cylindrical shaped. They were used as jewelry, mnemonic devices, and political symbols. Beads were used to adorn regalia. Wampum was also important in the spiritual beliefs of the indigenous peoples of Connecticut, and is described as being used to seal packs during the contact period. Colonists saw the way Native Peoples used wampum and inferred that wampum must be money to the native peoples. This was not the case as the native peoples of Connecticut did not have a concept of money.
June 15, 2016 / Research IAIS Museum
Written by:Research IAIS Museum