Photographs (left to right): Writing Spider (?), Alabama: Tree Roots, William Smith College, Adirondacks;, New York; Mushrooms, William Smith College, Adirondacks, New York

Wampum Belt Archive


Caugnawauga Algonquin Boundary Belt 50_2286

ca. 1535-1609

Belt graphic (Hamell: August 2019)

Original Size:
Rows: 16. Columns: 144. Est dimensions: 23 inches by 8 inches
2,304 beads


Jonathan Lainey(Musée Canadien de l’histoire) suggested the belt represent an alliance between 8 groups(? )

Caughnawaga being the central fire of the confederacy?

  1. -          Kahnawake
  2. -          Kanesatake
  3. -          Akwesasne
  4. -          Oswegatchie
  5. -          Odanak
  6. -          Wolinak
  7. -          Algonquin of 3-rivers
  8. -          Lorette (Wendake)

American Museum of Natural History.

The original length of this belt, which has been mutilated, extended from the yellow ribbons (3 feet by 2 inches) This belt, originally Algonquin, can be dated any time between 1535, the date of the French discovery in Canada, and 1607 when the Adirondacks became allies of the French. After the fifty year’s war between the Adirondacks when the Iroquois had exterminated the former the Algonquins who confederacy included the Adirondacks, besought from the Iroquois peace and cessation from further depredations this belt—No.1 (which history tells was given by the Algonquins to the Iroquois) interpreted as the boundary belt defined the border lines between the Iroquois and Algonquin territory. The hieroglyph [ ] represented the inland rivers and valleys. [ ] signified the outer, or border, mountains and lakes. The straight line of two purple beads in the center of the belt [ ] symbolize the trail or straight—honest--path of the people extending in an unbroken line from East to West (reading the belt from left to right. This belt has been mutilated, possibly years after the treaty, for small strings to be used in councils. At the red ribbon marks are evidences of a systematic division possibly certain lands allotted to tribal clans by a “home” treaty. This belt is woven of the fibre of the elm bark thread and strips of buckskin. A belt in possession of the Catholic Church at Caughnawaga, hanging suspended from the roof above the altar, outlined by these same crooked wampums, is interpreted by the Christian Indians as significant of the “crooked” ways of sin—paganism and drunkenness. The pagan Indians defined these lines as rivers winding around the mountains.

Wampum belt, given by Algonquins to Iroquois, defining border lines between territory of the two. Additional Information: 118; Dated between 1535 and 1607. The inner lines on the belt represent inland rivers and valleys; the outer lines signify mountains and lakes. The two purple beads in the center symbolize the trail or straight, honest path of the people extending in an unbroken line from East to West. Woven on elm bark fiber and stripe of buckskin. (16 rows). [For other belt in photograph, see Wampum No. 103.] American Museum of Natural History, New York, N.Y., Catalog No. 50-2286; Acquisition No. 1901-26. Purchased by Harriet M. Converse from a Chief at Caughnawaga in 1901. (American Museum Nat History)

Stolle, Nickolaus (2016)

Purchased from Harriet M. Converse in 1901.


American Museum of Natural History.

Bonaparte, Darren. 2011. The Wampum Chronicles. Personal Communications.

Lainey, Jonathan. 2015. Personal Communications. Conservateur, Premiers Peuples Musée canadien de l’histoire Curator, First Peoples Canadian Museum of History 100 rue Laurier Street, Gatineau QC K1A 0M8

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