Photographs (left to right): Mohave Desert, Nevada; Taughannock Falls State Park, New York; Poke Berry, Rush, New York

Wampum Belt Photographs Archive


Grand Council Belt

1963 Photograph

Photo Courtesy:


Original Size:

About 7 feet long.








Rickard (1973; p. 74) described the belt as being "very old and have the hand-made shell wampum beads strung together on rawhide strips, in the traditional manner." The Council Belt "is about seven feet long, of purple beads with seven white diamonds across its length. The middle diamond is double [and] represent the tribes."New York Times, June 23, 1963. Newspaper Caption:Indian leaders bring forth an historic wampum belt as they concluded the first Grand Council of the American Indian since 1775. It was held at Wyalusing Rocks, Pa .Article: A council of Indian chiefs and head women from about 35 tribes is gathered here for the first such powwow in Pennsylvania since 1775. The meeting is called the Grand Spiritual and Temporal Council .Indians from Canada and Mexico as well as the United States were greeted by Chief Lightfoot Talking Eagle. Activities included dancing by teams representing the Navajos, Narragansetts, Susquehannas, Mohawks, Tuscaroras, Iroquois, and Miami tribes. A four-team round-robin lacrosse tournament began yesterday, with the championship of the League of North American Indians set for Sunday.The Indians plan to hold secret meetings, too. About 500 Indians are attending the grand council. It is the indirect result of the dedication of a totem pole at Wyalusing Rocks last year. Chief Lightfoot Talking Eagle and eight Tuscaroras from the Indian Reservation near Niagara Falls attended the dedication.

Among the Tuscaroras were Chief Loud Voice Rickard and Fighting Bear. The three decided then to hold the grand council.lder William Commanda, Keeper of three sacred belts of historical and spiritual importance (described below). Quote ("

These belts, together with another one which disappeared many decades ago, were held by his great great grandfather, Pakinawatik, and they carry testimony of significant prophecies, agreements and understandings which have guided the Anicinabe peoples for centuries. They have inspired the Elder¹s work over the past thirty years. In 1987, he began sharing the messages of the Wampum Belts publicly during the constitutional debates, and he has continued to do so since. Elder Commanda notes that the three belts he carries are living belts, since they are not housed in museums, and of late he has shared their messages with increasing urgency. This is consistent with the prophecy that speaks of the return of the voice of indigenous peoples.The core messages of the three Wampum Belts is shared here. Additional information will eventually be included in the Wisdom Page.

The Seven Fires Prophecy Belt:

Elder Commanda is  the keeper of this ancient sacred belt dating back to the late 1400s at the time of the unfolding of its final message ­ the message of CHOICE about our relationships with each other and with all creations of Mother Earth. Will we be guided by values of sharing, balance and harmonious co-existence?

The 1700's Belt:

In this three figure belt about equitable SHARING, William Commanda¹s ancestors inscribed their understanding about sharing the resources of their native land and their values and ideology with the newcomers, the French and the English, in the spirit of a confederacy, in sacred wampum shell. The inherent value of sharing remains the elusive quest of our times.

The Jay Treaty Border Crossing Belt:

This belt underscores the fundamental spiritual message of indigenous peoples about BORDERLESSNESS: the Elder¹s people, the Mamuwinini, the nomads, belong to North America, and as such they retain a sacred connection and responsibility to the land they are born to. As Elder Commanda puts it, "My territory is as the river flows, as the bird flies and as the wind blows."

The top belt is  the Jay Treaty Belt, the middle belt is1700 belt, and the bottom belt is the seven prophecies belt Ex William Commanda Collection (Stolle, Nickolaus, 2016)Reference:Dianne Laramee

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

New York Times, June 23, 1963.

Rickard, Chief Clinton. 1973. Fighting Tuscarora: the autobiography of Chief Clinton Rickard. Syracuse University Press, 182 pp.