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Tori... huh?[edit]

"Musician Tori Amos composed a short Prayer on her Scarlet's Walk album, which is thematically very Native-oriented. The song briefly addresses the Trail of Tears, as well as the importance of prayer to the Aboriginal American peoples"

What does this have to do with Wampum? --babbage 19:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Oh, it's Wampum Prayer. Fair enough, and fixed. --babbage 19:40, 17 March 2007 (UTC)


Can anyone explain exactly how wampum is related to these vague mystical energies? Is this a historical fact, or a modern use of wampum? What groups or individuals use or view it that way?

Wampum represents something, a memory, an agreement, etc. Perhaps it was more like a contract than money, since it was more specific. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 05:56:47, August 19, 2007 (UTC)

William Sidis said that these were traditionally used as documentation, going so far as saying they used a language where beads represented definite ideas which was known among all the tribal nations so treaties could be formed between people who could not communicate otherwise. He heavily researched this leading to his 10000 year history of America "The Tribes and the States", available online. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:28, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Chiming in many years later... I believe that perhaps the reason you are confused is that not mentioned in this article is that there are feelings similar to the Roman gravitas and auctorictas that walk with wampum. You do not just pick it up and hold wampum; you EARN wampum from saying the hard thing instead of the easy thing. So some people that tend to do this are authority and spiritual figures. So perhaps this is what was meant by "mystical." Abesottedphoenix (talk) 03:57, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Comment culled from article[edit]

Please note: This illustration differs from the photo at The National Museum of the American Indian, NYC:

Before or after European contact?[edit]

The article says "... it is the belts in total that are wampum. Belts of wampum were not produced until after European contact," but it also says "When Europeans came to the Americas, they realized the importance of wampum to Native people." Those two statements seem contradictory to me. If wampum was important before the Europeans arrived, then it must have been produced before the Europeans arrived. I'm not seeing a citation for the "not produced until" sentence, which seems oddly out of place in its section, and the rest of the article seems to me to imply in various ways that wampum was part of a long-established tradition before the Europeans arrived. So I kinda suspect that the "not produced until" sentence isn't true. I've marked it as "citation needed," but figured I'd also post here to see if anyone had sources or info. --Elysdir (talk) 18:03, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Ooooh this is hard. My inclination is not to agree, too. Perhaps this might help: before there were loom woven belts, there were individual beads. Before there were individual beads, there were simple drilled shells. All of these are wampum. (If they're white, technically. Though that term was expanded in meaning over time to mean both white and all shell colours.) The simplest form certainly predated Colonisation. I am not sure I believe that belts were not produced before Europeans. There would be no technical reason they could not have predated Colonials. I say this because the technology one needed for production of the belts already existed before the Colonists. Think about it. You need: shells, sinew, leather, and summat to drill the shells (Usually bone, mebbe quartz, unusually metal, hard wood in a pinch {not very effective}.) to produce a belt. We are not known for being reserved in our arts: we are known for being ornate. That said, I think that it is very safe to say that the drill technology and availability DID change with Colonisation. The introduction of metals into the trade routes would have made for easier construction of drills. It's not that there *wasn't* metal before the Colonists, there was just much less uncovered. Does this make more sense to you? (Whoops, not logged in. XD) Abesottedphoenix (talk) 03:56, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Copyright violation in 'origin' section[edit]

I have had to remove the existing 'origin' section, as it was a blatant copyright violation of material from the Smithsonian's website [1] (dated 2009 - there is no possibility that it was copied from here). For the moment, I've restored the section as it was in August 2014, prior to the copy-pasting of material by IP Clearly we can cite the Smithsonian source, and update the section accordingly, but the copy-pasted material must not be restored - Wikipedia takes copyright violations very seriously. AndyTheGrump (talk) 01:31, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Removed "clams" claim[edit]

I removed the uncited claim "The slang phrases "clams" and "shelling out" come from wampum." The Historical Dictionary of American Slang shows the first citation of "clam" in this sense from 1886. It seem highly dubious that this was derived from wampum, which had not been used for money for nearly two hundred years at that time. This can be reinstated if a citation is found. Mnudelman (talk) 20:57, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Wampum/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

In the article it is stated that Wampum is still used as currency. It would interest me to have this statement expanded to include where this is and what unit value system is used.

Last edited at 22:10, 13 April 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 10:12, 30 April 2016 (UTC)