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Wampum Belt teachings at GREAT Theatre

Last week, the community of Six Nations had a rare chance to learn about the various wampum belts in a teaching done outside the Longhouse. Among interested community members were a few Confederacy Chiefs, Sub-Chiefs, Faithkeeprs and Clan Mothers. These wampum belts were made between the Haudenosaunee and various European settlers.

Last week, the community of Six Nations had a rare chance to learn about the various wampum belts in a teaching done outside the Longhouse. Among interested community members were a few Confederacy Chiefs, Sub-Chiefs, Faithkeeprs and Clan Mothers. These wampum belts were made between the Haudenosaunee and various European settlers.

According to Jamie Jacobs, Seneca Nation, “The original wampum belt was known as the Friendship Belt and it was an agreement or treaty made with the Dutch.” Jacobs works at the New York Rochester Museum and Science Center and was brought to Six Nations last week to share his knowledge about the significance of wampum and wampum belts.

Jacobs explained that the Friendship Belt preceded the Two Row Wampum and stressed the importance of it being read or explained before the Two Row. “When they are read, they should be read together,” said Jacobs. Talking about Guswenta, or the Two Row Wampum Belt, Jacobs stated that in the pre-contact era, the Haudenosaunee controlled the northeastern seaboard. When the Dutch arrived, treaties were made with them which established rules as to how each nation would abide by and respect each other’s way of life. “According to the Friendship Belt, we are friends to the settlers, not allies. You can have an ally but not be friends with them. Our agreement was that we were friends as long as the grass grows, the sun shines and the water flows,” said Jacobs, which called for a higher degree of respect for one another then simple ally-ship.

New York Rochester Museum and Science Center Collections Assistant Jamie Jacobs holds up a replica of one of the various wampum belts he brought to Six Nations last week. Also pictured at left is Leroy Hill. (Photo by Jen Mt. Pleasant)

New York Rochester Museum and Science Center Collections Assistant Jamie Jacobs holds up a replica of one of the various wampum belts he brought to Six Nations last week. Also pictured at left is Leroy Hill. (Photo by Jen Mt. Pleasant)

“Our culture is built on wampum. It’s always been supported by wampum. Everything we had to say, everything we did was based on wampum. Wampum to us is what binds us together, not only as people, but it binds us with our maker, our Creator,” stated Jacobs.

Jacobs described the various wampum belts and showed the replicas he had for each, including the Circle Wampum, Wolf Clan Condolence Belt, Dish With One Spoon and the Ever Growing Tree Belt. To learn more about the stories that go with each wampum belt, Jacobs stated that in the near future, there will be teachings of them at upcoming Confederacy Council meetings. You can also attend the Reading of the Great Law in July or visit the Tonawanda territory where the original belts will be laid out.

CUTLINE_1: Jamie Jacobs who works as a Collections Assistant at the New York Rochester Museum and Science Centre and Leroy Hill share a few laughs after a wampum presentation hosted at the GREAT Theatre last week. (Photo by Jen Mt. Pleasant)

CUTLINE_2: New York Rochester Museum and Science Center Collections Assistant Jamie Jacobs holds up a replica of one of the various wampum belts he brought to Six Nations last week. Also pictured at left is Leroy Hill. (Photo by Jen Mt. Pleasant)

 

 

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Jen MtPleasant

Jen MtPleasant

Tuscarora Nation. Honours BA Criminology, Class of 2013. Advocate for missing and murdered ogwehoweh men and women. @JenMtPleasant

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