Photographs (left to right): Columbus Zoo, Ohio; Tioga, Pennsylvania; Columbus Zoo, Ohio

Wampum Belt Archive


Onondaga Treaty Belt

Iroquois Wampum Belts Rufus Alexander Grider (1817-1900)

Courtesy Newberry Library, Chicago 

Original Size:

Length: 27 inches. Width: 2 3/8 inches. Rows: 6.








Clarke described this belt (and others; 1931) as an Onondaga belt woven on twine. The belt originally had five rows when first seen by Beauchamp (1901, p. 414) that "it was then perfect and probably referred to the Five Nations of the Iroquois. The interpretation, as given by Thomas Donaldson when it had but the four bars, was: 'A treaty when buit four of the Six Nations were represented.' In 1886 the Onondaga wampum keeper, Thomas Webster, said that it represented 'the sumission of each tribe when they joined the Confederacy.' Again, in 1898, Daniel and THomas La Fort of the Onondaga Nation related that the belt was made when the St Regis Indians were accepted for membership in the League, and that the diagonal bars on the belt represented braces,or suppports, to a house to keep it from falling (the 'house' meaning the Long House, of the League of the Iroquois).

Repatriated 1898.


Beauchamp, William M. 1880. Wampum Belts of the Six Nations. American Antiq. vol. 2, pp. 228-2230.

Beauchamp, William M. 1901. Wampum and Shell Articles Used by the New York Indians. NYS Mus, Bull. 41, pp. 319-480, #240.

Clarke, N. T. 1931. The Wampum Belt Collection of the New York State Museum. NYS Mus.

Stolle, Nickolaus. 2016. Talking Beads: The history of wampum as a value and knowledge bearer, from its very first beginnings until today. Hamburg, Germany. ISSN 1437-7837