Wampum is a fascinating subject: the Shinnecock people fashioned local shells into beads that became the medium of currency among northeastern native peoples, and even were used as a medium of exchange by Europeans in the fur trade. Wampum belts designed with pictograms that had political and spiritual significance were used by many Eastern Woodlands tribes to solidify treaties, political agreements, and spiritual ceremonies.
A series of lectures by Native American cultural experts and scholars at the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum will discuss wampum's importance. On Sunday, April 12, Shinnecock tribal member Roddy Smith will discuss the Shinnecock relationship to the water. Loren Spears (a Narragansett from Rhode Island) will present "Wampum, Telling Our Stories - History, Culture, Arts, Misconceptions, and the Traditional" and will also talk about the contemporary process of making wampum.
Sunday April 19, the focus will be on wampum and the Iroquois Confederacy. Wampum maker and Shinnecock tribal member Shane Weeks will discuss the ancient and modern practice of wampum manufacturing and the connections to the Owasco people of the Mohawk Valley. He will talk about the importance of wampum to the Iroquois Confederacy, and discuss the Great Law of Peace and its impact on Benjamin Franklin as seen even today in the United States Constitution. You'll then learn about the cultural movement that is bringing awareness to wampum's relevance through the Two Row Wampum 1613-2013 Hudson River journey.
The final lecture will be Sunday, April 26. The indigenous language of the Shinnecock, its culture, and wampum history are all interwoven. Roddy Smith will share his research, experiences, and connections with the St. Francis-Odanak First Nations reserve in Quebec, Canada. Christina Tarrant, Shinnecock language practitioner and tribal member, will discuss her efforts with the Shinnecock Language Revitalization Program.
· Shinnecock Museum [Official]