Wampum agreements are an integral part of Native American history and culture. Wampum itself refers to the traditional Native American beads made from shells that were used as currency, adornment, and most notably, for creating belts to record and commemorate agreements.
So, what exactly is a wampum agreement? In its most basic sense, it is an agreement or treaty between Native American tribes or between Native Americans and non-Native Americans that is recorded on a wampum belt. These belts are typically made with carefully chosen beads in patterns that hold specific meanings to the parties involved.
Wampum agreements were used for a variety of purposes, from trade and commerce to peace negotiations and war declarations. They were often used as a way to ensure that both sides understood and respected the terms of the agreement, as well as to preserve the history of the agreement for future generations.
One of the most famous wampum agreements is the Two Row Wampum Belt, which was created by the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Confederacy) in the 1600s. The belt consists of two purple rows of beads on a white background, representing two parallel paths – one for the Haudenosaunee and one for the European settlers. The belt symbolized an agreement between the two groups to coexist peacefully and respect each other`s sovereignty and way of life.
Another well-known wampum agreement is the Treaty of Niagara, signed in 1764 between the British Crown and a coalition of Native American tribes. This agreement was recorded on a wampum belt that depicted the relationship between the crown and the Native American nations as a chain that bound them together in peace and friendship.
Unfortunately, many wampum agreements were broken by non-Native American parties, leading to the forced displacement and mistreatment of Native Americans. Despite this, wampum agreements remain a powerful symbol of Native American sovereignty and the importance of communication and understanding in building relationships between different cultures.
In conclusion, a wampum agreement is a treaty or agreement between Native American tribes or between Native Americans and non-Native Americans that is recorded on a wampum belt. These agreements were used for a variety of purposes and remain an important part of Native American history and culture.