Photographs (left to right): Chipmunk, Rush, New York; William Smith College, Adirondacks, New York; Wall Sunflower, Rush, New York

Wampum Belt Archive


Haudenosaunee-Abenaki MAI 11_123 Heye

17th-18th century

Museum of the American Indians (Heye Foundation)

Abenaki MAI 11-123
Wellington Collection

Reproduction by Richard D Hamell Nov. 20 2020

Original Size:
8 rows 69cm 27 inches.
Length: 34 inches. Width: 4 inches. Length w/fringe: 58 inches.
Columns: 204. Rows: 8. Total Beads: 1,632 beads.
Warp: Deer leather. Weft: Artificial sinew. Red and blue ribbons


This is the belt that Sotheby's tried to sell a few years ago, labeled "Abenaki" (2009) with estimated selling price as high as $20,000. This belt and one other were pulled from the auction after complaints were filed by the Onondaga Nation as they were part of their cultural heritage and should be returned." The Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burial Rules and Regulations (HSC) is a consortium of Six Nations chiefs, tribal historians, and community leaders. The committee petitioned Sotheby to have the materials returned since there is evidence the two belts with tribal property and the claim would be sent from Kanien:keha’ka (Mohawk) and Wôbanakiak (Abenaki) people, via the Mohawk Nation of Kanesatake and the Abenaki Nation of Odanak in Quebec, Canada (Bruchac, 2018). The belts were withdrawn from Sotheby's auction.

The zymology seems more Six Nations or even like William Commanda's prophesy belt (Wiseman, 2013).

Abenaki MAI 11-123
Wellington Collection
Original 27 inches
Ewing 1983 #33

Collected by John Jay White prior to 1925
ca 1600-1700s
Rows 8 columns 204. 27 inches est 1600 beads
Hexagons - Algonquian and Haudenosaunee symbols indicate tribal locations,
forts, or gathering place where allies could share resources.

Beads irregular probably from multiple sources, re-purposed.
Asymmetry indicates the belt may have been longer


American Museum of American Indians. Cat. No. MAI 11_123

Bruchac, M. M. 2018. Broken Chains of Custody: Possessing, Dispossessing, and Repossessing Lost Wampum Belts. Proceedings of the AMerican Philosophical Society, Vol. 162, No. 1. March.

The New York Times. 2009. 2 Disputed Indian Wampum Belts Pulled From Auction. James Barton,

Wiseman, F. 2013. Personal Communications.