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Great Lakes Bracelets


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click on image for full PDF® file
          The Wampum Belt Collection of the
                 New York State Museum
by Noah T. Clarke, Archeologist, New York State Museum, Bulletin 288, pages 85-121
       The University of the State of New York

The Canandaigua
The Cattaraugus
The Daganowedah

The Oswego

The Chatauqua

The Cayuga


The Oneida
The Seneca

The Great Lakes Bracelets
    The Great Lakes Bracelets concept is the offspring of the wampum-style cuff* series started around 2000. The inspiration for the cuff sets came from the viewing in my youth of two to three original wampum belts held by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. These belts have since been returned to the wampum keepers of the Iroquois Nation. The look of these very old belts was almost as something prehistoric for the young boy of ten. The inconsistent purple clam color, striping and sometimes solid, was so singularly powerful. Any sensible person with an appreciation for great craft viewing these belts for the first time is awe-struck realizing that these thousands of tubular beads had been carved one at a time by hand, the purple beads from the same species of clam that many of us along the New England or Mid-Atlantic coastal states, after sucking out the animal within, tossed on huge summer camp refuse piles or as children, saved in small brown paper bags, only to be later found at the bottom of cloudy gold-fish bowls or plastic turtle islands perched dumb next to a young red-eared slider.
    After coming upon strands of amethyst beads that were mismatched by tenths of a millimeter to the mother of pearl tubular beads, just enough to upset the structure of any measured piece of multiple beads high, it was decided to make a simpler, single strand wrist bracelet keeping the same design thematic reminiscent of the traditional Iroquois style of design. These bracelets are not made in the desire to capture or "faussé" any of that which is the cultural apanage of the Iroquois Nation. These designs are as inspired by.
    The more recent use of the lavender Beautiful Cebu shell added to the natural, fresh-water look of the objects.
    Some of the bracelets are also finished with a small disk cut and polished from old Lake Erie clam shell found during the 1960s up to the present year. For more specific information, please click on the image of the polished Lake Erie clam shell featured above.
* is hyperlinked.
For further reading see:
    The Constitution of the Five Nations or The Iroquois Book of the Great Law by A.C. Parker in Iroqcrafts Ltd., Iroquois Publications, reprint from the New York State Museum Bulletin, no. 184, April 1, 1916
    Beads and Beadwork of the American Indian by William C. Orchard, Eagle's View Edition; The Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, volume XI
    Wampum Belts of the Iroquois by Tehanetorens, 1999; Book Publishing Company, Summertown, TN
    Premières Nations, Collections Royales; sous la direction de Christian Feest pour l'exposition au Musée du Quai Branly, 2007
    Beads:Their Use by Upper Great Lakes Indians, Public Museum of Grand Rapids publication number 3; published by Michigan Indian Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977-3rd printing, 1992
    League of the Iroquois by Lewis Henry Morgan, Carol Publishing Group edition, 1996
    The Iroquois by Dean R. Snow, Blackwell Publishers, 1996 US/UK
     Red Jacket: Iroquois Diplomat and Orator by Christopher Densmore, Syracuse University Press, 1999

    Proceedings of the 1986 Shell Bead Conference, selected papers, Rochester Museum and Science Center Research Records No. 20, 1988

    Wampum and Shell Articles Used by the New York Indians, New York State Museum Bulletin no. 41, Vol. 8 by William M. Beauchamp


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 Lake Erie clam shell
 found in the 1970's

George Washington Covenant Belt

This replica of the original Covenant Belt given to George Washington by the Iroquois Confederation delegation was made by members of the
North Carolina band of the Tuscarora, member tribe to the
Iroquois Confederation. The replica belt was given as a gift by the Tuscarora to the Indian Museum of North America located on the Crazy Horse Memorial compound, Black Hills, South Dakota. It measures approximately 5' in length and close to 10" wide.

 La "Monnaie des Sauvages"
 Les colliers de wampum d'hier
 à aujourd'hui

Jonathan Lainey, Éditions Septentrion