Photographs (left to right): Dry Falls, Washington; Olympic Peninsula, Washington; Montana

Wampum Belt Archive


Esopus Wampum Belt

Beauchamp (1901: Plate 13, Figure 171)

(1677/1678) UCCO Cat. #u.


Drawing: R. D. Hamell Nov. 18, 2021

Original Size:

Rows: 6. Length: 142 column. Beads: 852








Wampum belt is made of entirely white beads with 3 sets of black diagonal mostly missing now. The belt is housed (1901) in the county clerk's office in Kingston, NY. It also appears in the History of Kingston, by Marius Schoonmaker on page 40. It was given by the Esopus chiefs at a treaty in 1664, and is laid up with the record. There are three gaps in the belt and it has no pattern. Following from the Ulster County Clerk Archive Division: Ulster County Clerk's Office. Unspecified Collection. Became property of County Clerk in 1735.

Wampum Belt c.(1664 - 1665)

Department Ulster County Clerk's Office Before European colonization, the Kingston area was inhabited by the Esopus people, a Lenape tribe which was estimated to number around 10,000 people living in small village communities by 1600.

Woven in Native American symbols 1 belt, 0.1 cubic feet A belt of braided thistle and beads, 2" x 30" x 1/4". The braided thistle is straw colored, of seven rows gathered at the ends in two knots. The beads are cylindrical in shape, white and purple in color, and form six rows. They are arranged at right angles to the strands of twine. The purple beads form diagonal stripes on a white background. The belt is mounted by thread to a linen(?) background and surrounded by a double thick white archival mat about two inches wide. The belt and mat are enclosed in a plain black frame under glass. The overall dimensions of the framed object are 10 1/2" x 39 1/4" x 1/2". The back is covered by an off-white board and sealed with wide black tape. Notes in pencil at top and bottom right mention that the belt was loaned to the "Senate House Association by the County of Ulster". Other notes are a calculation of sorts reading "598 beads x 10/5,980". Included is a index card describing the belt as "consummating a treaty of peace between the Dutch settlers of Wiltwyck and the Esopus Indians in 1664". The label also mentions that in 1732, by order of the Court of Sessions, the belt was placed in the custody of the County Clerk. The glass is soiled and shows rings of oxidation(?) encircling the belt on the inside of the glass. Content Note Historians have associated this belt with peace agreements between Native Americans and the Dutch on May 15, 1664 at New Amsterdam, and between Native Americans and the English on October 7, 1665 at Esopus. (From Marc B. Fried's The Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y. Marbletown and Kingston: Ulster County Historical Society, 1975)
(From Marius Schoonmaker's History of Kingston New York, New York:Burr Printing, 1888)

Historical Note
The wampum belt became the custody of the Ulster County Clerk in 1732 by an order of the Court of Sessions. It was presumably stored with other records until June 9, 1953 when resolution #33 granted permission for its permanent display at the Senate House Museum as a loan. It remained there until about 1975. Correspondence in possession of the clerk suggests that the belt may have traveled to Albany for examination and preservation. Stephen Comer, a Mohican Culture Specialist, has visited the belt, according to Laurie Hancock, Ulster County Records Management Officer."The name 'wampum' is a term which the early New England colonists derived from the Algonquian name 'wampomeag,' meaning 'a string' (of shell beads). Indians were attracted to the use of shells in their personal adornment by their natural beauty. On account of their thin, sharp edges, shells were brought into service as implements and utensils such as cups, spoons, scrapers, digging tools and knives. Shell beads were the handiwork of the woman, whose skillful hands were accustomed to the delicate and tedious operation of their manufacture. Wampum beads are small cylindrical shell beads which measure about a quarter of an inch in length and one-eighth of an inch in diameter. They were wrought from various species of shells, but those made in the eastern section of the United States were cut from those found along the Atlantic sea coast.......besides their use as necklaces and for purposes of exchange, [they] were used in strings in public transactions of various nature and significance. Strung in different order or color combinations, they conveyed or recorded a definite idea or thought, which could be interpreted without confusion. White beads used alone in ritual or ceremonies conveyed the idea of peace, health and harmony; the dark or purple beads used alone in ceremonies denoted the idea of sorrow, death, mourning and hostility."(From Noah T. Clarke's The Wampum Belt Collection of the New York State Museum, Albany NY, 1931)Location Ulster County Hall of Records, 300 Foxhall Avenue, Kingston, New York, 12401-2634, USA, 845-340-3415, FAX:845-340-3418 Inventory Number 89-00483 Provenance Filed or created during the regular performance of the Office of the County Clerk.


Beauchamp, William M. 1901. Wampum and Shell Articles Used By The New York Indians. New York State Museum Bulletin No. 41, Vol. 8.

Smith, Jesse J. (2005-05-29). "Esopus Indian wars were 'the clash of cultures'"Daily Freeman. Kingston, NY. Retrieved 2011-09-05.