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THE ART OF WAMPUM - November 2021


The Art of Wampum is a month long display in the CAP ArtSpace at the Tompkins Center for History & Culture showcasing replica wampum belts woven by Rich Hamell of the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan, and wampum inspired prints by Brandon Lazore (Onondaga Nation) and Bruce King (Oneida Nation) exploring the histories and meanings captured in the traditional belt designs and the historic events they symbolize.

Wampum are carved beads made from white and purple edged mollusk (often the quahog clam and channeled whelk). Wampum beads are woven or strung in a symbolic design or pattern that represents historic events, government agreements, and as a reminder device for oral tradition used in ceremonies. Wampum belts have been used by Indigenous nations in our region for centuries, and some of the belts on display highlight political rights dating back hundreds of years before the founding of the United States. 

The physical display for the 'Art of Wampum' is on exhibit in the CAP ArtSpace inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture for the month of November 2021.

The virtual exhibit (link below) can be explored for visitors unable to visit the exhibit in person and will remain available a bit longer. Images, PDF's, and additional learning materials about wampum are available at the bottom of this page. 

The long lasting legacy of wampum, and its use as a record keeping and mnemonic device  means that a single belt can be known by multiple titles, and have more than one interpretation. The interpretations below are largely taken from Indigenous historians and educators, but are not meant to encompass every understanding of the wampum designs meaning.

Click on each image below to enlarge the essay about a specific wampum belt, scroll down for lesson plans and teaching materials. 

HIAWATHA BELT


TWO ROW TREATY


ADOPTION BELT


FORT STANWIX TREATY 1784 



THREE SISTERS


GEORGE WASHINGTON BELT


MISSING & MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN & GIRLS


UNITY OF THE CLANS


DUST FAN BELT


WOMEN'S NOMINATION BELT 


CHILDREN'S REMEMBRANCE BELT


FRENCH-INDIAN WAR BELT 


LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The History Center in Tompkins County and all of our programs occur on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' Nation (often known by the mispronunciation Cayuga), one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It is important for each of us to understand the long-standing history that has brought us to reside on this land and to seek to understand our place within that history, including the history of forced relocation and disenfranchisement experienced by the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' who remain a sovereign nation and continue the stewardship of their traditional lands to this day.

Learn More


Physical Address

Located inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture

110 North Tioga Street

(On the Ithaca Commons) 

Ithaca NY, 14850 USA

Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' Territory

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Exhibit Hall Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm - CLOSED Sun-Tues

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Phone: 607-273-8284

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