Photographs (left to right): Cinder Cone, Fossil Falls, California; Mono Lake, California; Spiny Hopsage, California

Wampum Belt Archive


Chippewa - Ojibwa Belt

Photograph Courtesy of National Museum of American Indians Cat.# 014004.000

Reproduction R.D. Hamell 8/21/2016

Original Size:
36.5 inches by 3.0 inches. Rows: 10. Columns: 284.
43.0 by 4.5 inches. Total length w/fringe: 67 inches
Total: 2,700 (including 160 half beads).
Warp: deer leather. Weft: artificial sinew.


The museum report stated the belt was created in 1807 and is of Chippewa-Ojibwa origin. The shell beads are woven on twine cordage. It is a commemorative belt presented to the Chippewa-Ojibwa Chief and commissioned by the Deputy-Superintendent General of the British Indian Department, William Claus, in 1807.

Museum of American Indian Heye Foundation: Wampum belt commemorative of the visit of a Chief to King George III in 1807: Chippewa belt.

Becker and Marshall (2004) gave the following description:

The W C-Two People-1807 Belt. This belt (Heye Foundation cat. no. 1/4004) is one of two initialed belts long held in the Heye Foundation collections at the Museum of the American Indian. Molloy provides a published picture of this interesting belt,39 which may be of a relatively late date and which Becker had placed into a tourist category of secular belts. We now recognize this group as a subcategory of normal diplomatic (political) belts. The initials and the date provide an unmistakable orientation for the reading of this belt. Of note is that there are three different sections of the belt as demarcated by the color of the background. At the left is a white area into which dark beads have been used to form the "W C." The central zone has a dark background on which appear two human figures at either end, holding or linked by a chain (?) that depends from their hands and runs across the lower part of the belt.

Above this linking element (chain?), and in the center of the belt, is a small pipe also worked in white beads. At the right end is another white panel, into which the date 1807 is worked in dark beads. This is believed to be the year during which the belt was made, but no confirming text has been located. Jonathan Lainey suggests that the initials "WC" may be those of the Indian agent named William Claus, who was the son of Ann Johnson and Daniel Claus. Ann Johnson was a daughter of Sir William Johnson. The WC-1807 belt clearly falls into this small, lettered subset of the secular category of wampum belts. Becker had correctly believed that the 1807 belt had been commissioned by non-Indians, but at first did not understand that it fell into the diplomatic subcategory of belts that emerged as early as 1745, and perhaps as early as 1724.


Becker, Marshall J. & Lainey, Jonathan. 2004. Wampum Belts with Initials and/or Dates. American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 28 (2)

National Museum of the American Indian. Smithsonian Museum. WC 1807.