Photographs (left to right): Niagara River, New York, Oaks Openings, New York; Grand Canyon Park, Tennessee

Wampum Belt Archive


Miami Wampum Belt

Initially a War Wampum Belt (1775-1889)

Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

CIS 2176

Original Size:

Rows 8. Length: 67.3 cm. 26.5 inches, Incomplete length edges wrapped.








From Newberry

Miami Wampum Belt. This belt is made of dark purple and white shell beads on buckskin. It belonged to Deaf Man, Miami chief, ca. 1775-1800. This probably was used to initiate a war alliance because it once was painted red, but woven belts of quahog shell beads called “wampum” (from the language of the New England Algonquians) often were presented by Indians to other participants at peace treaty councils in order to emphasize messages. The belt (or a string of wampum) was associated with specific agreements or events (often symbolized by designs) and stressed the importance and truth of what was said. Acceptance of a belt meant that the recipient accepted the message.

Photo Courtesy of The Detroit Institute of Arts, Courtesy Cranbrook Institute of Science, Robert Hensleigh, photographer.

Acquired from Milford Chandler in 1925, purchased from Camillus Bundy.


The Newberry: