Photographs (left to right): All Mohave Desert, California/Nevada

Wampum Belt Archive


Wabanaki War Belt

Speck (1915), Plate 24, Figure C.



Graphic: after Speck photo - Richard D. Hamell

December 18 2021


Original Size:
Beaded Length: 15.4 inches. Width: 2.0 inches. Length w/fringe 39.4 inches.
Translucent Glass/ 388 beads


Dark blue glass beaded belt.

Speck reported:

"When any of the Wabanaki allies were menaced with war it was, of course, their right to call upon the other three for support. For this purpose, when occasion arose, the Penobscot had a war belt and a peace belt of which reproductions are shown. 'Each chief of the other tribes is also said to have had a similar set. The war belt (pl. xxiv, fig. c), about 15 inches long, had a solid blue background with four pairs of crossed tomahawks across it. The dark background stands for war, the four pairs of axes constitute a call to the four nations to join in taking up the tomahawk in the common cause. To use the informant's phraseology, " If any trouble arose in sight of the chief he would send this belt by runners to the chief of the nearest tribe accompanied by his message stating the circumstances." The receiver would then forward it to the chief of the next tribe, and so on, until the belt would ultimately be returned to its starting place. Holding the belt high in front of him the messenger announced the time and place of gathering in his speech."



Speck, Frank G. 1915. The Eastern Algonkian Wabanaki Confederacy. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 17, No. 3, July-Sept., pp. 492-508.

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