Photographs (left to right): Brittlebush, Coso Range, California; Ridgecrest, California; Desert Lizard, California

Wampum Belt Archive

 

Council Summons Belt

Original Belt (Clarke, 1931)

(Reproduction (R. D. Hamell, April 11, 2001)

Original Size:

Length: 25.5 inches. Width: 2 inches. Rows wide: 7.

Reproduction:

Beaded length: 29.0 inches. Width: 3.25 inches. Total length with fringe: 53.0 inches.

Beads:

Rows: 178 by 7 beads wide. Total beads: 1,246.

Materials:

Warp: Leather. Weave: artificial sinew.

 

Description:

This belt consists of four pairs of diamond-shaped figures worked in purple on a white beaded background. Near one end is a purple rectangular patch 22 beads long, on which is figured a small white cross. The other end is somewhat mutilated but it partly reveals a purple diamond containing a white cross. The belt is made on buckskin thongs. Doctor Beauchamp remarks there should be five pairs diamond-shaped figures if it is to be considered an alliance belt given at a treaty between the Seven Nations of Canada and the Five Nations of the Iroquois before 16oo, as stated by Thomas Donaldson. He records it as a recent belt, by reason of the fact that wampum of this nature war, unknown in inland New York at so early a date. Thomas Webster, 0-ya-ta-je-wah, the Onondaga wampum keeper in 1888, referred to it as an Iroquois League Admission Belt.

Daniel and Thomas La Fort, Onondaga Indians, gave the following interpretation (Beauchamp: '01, p. 422) on July 19 and August 1, 1898, to E. W. Paige. "This belt was used to call a meeting of the Five Nations, at which should be read all the laws. This was made when Hi-a-wat-ha was traveling and distributing the clans, and this belt made to represent the nations were divided into clans, and were to remain strictly so-that there could be no intermarriage."

Quote Bardeau (2011)

The Onondaga Nation white belt…with four sets of double diamonds. There is a white cross on a purple patch at one unfinished end and a white cross inside a purple diamond at the other. Oral History: In 1889 the Onondaga wampum keeper said that it was the belt used to call a meeting of the Five Nations. It was said to have been made when Hiawentha (sic) was traveling and distributing the clans, and that this belt represents that the Nations with divided into eight clans.

Others say this belt represents the “Unity of the Clans”, “who sat opposite each other about the fire. Members of the same clan throughout all the territories shall recognize each other as relatives.”

Reference:

Bardeau, Phyllis Eileen Wms. 2011. Definitive Seneca: It's In The Word. Jaré Cardinal, editor. Seneca-Iroquois Museum Publisher, Salamanca, New York, 443pp.

Clarke, Noah T. 1931 New York State Museum Bulletin No. 28.