Photographs (left to right): Bottle Brush, Florida; Trona Pinnacles, Trona, California; Convict Lake, California

Wampum Belt Archive


Delaware Land Belt

From Tehanetorens (1999)

Original - NMAI Cat. # 053151.000

Reproduction - Hamell (April 20 2010)

Original Size:

Length: 30.0 inches. Width: 4.5 inches. Rows: 15.


Beaded Length: 27.25 inches. Width: 6.75. Length w/fringe: 47.25 inches.


Rows: 160. Beads Wide: 15. Total Beads: 2,400.


Warp: Leather. Weave: Artificial Sinew


This belt records the conditions under which the Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Nation ceded a certain tract of their territory to the white man, and that they retained the right to travel, hunt and fish on the lands parted with, the deign representing their trail to and fro over the territory sold.This belt belonged to William Penn and was the property of J. Merrick Head who in 1887 purchased the Penn estate known as Pennsylvania Castle at Portland, England. This belt was sold at auction July 12th, 1916 by Christie of London and purchased from the buyer at that sale by Mrs. Thea Heye and presented by Harmon W. Hendricks.Acquired for the institution by Harmon W. Hendricks in 1916, formerly property of William Penn's descendants. London UK. See Delaware_4 Cross Belt.

An interesting record on the importance of wampum belts to be given to the Delaware was recorded by Hagedorn (1988: p. 67):"Wampum's importance in Iroquois council protocol required the interpreter to be familiar with its uses and significance. Since his English employers relied on his expert advice when planning the delivery of speeches and responses during conferences, the interpreter had responsibility for choosing the appropriate wampum. If none of suitable type or value was available in the government's council bag, the interpreter had to procure it, usually by employing some Indian women to make the needed belts or strings (Thwaites.45 When the interpreter could not be present to make the selection himself, he sent his advice in writing to the governor or his representatives.

Conrad Weiser, for example, wrote to Governor Hamilton in September of 1754 regarding a forthcoming council: 'The Wampums are marked and your Honour will easily see to what Article they belong. The largest Belt of the Delawares is of very great Consequence and Importance, and ought to be answered in a very solemn manner by your Honour and the Council, including the House of Representatives, with a much larger Belt and a moving Speech."

Weiser went on to assert that the Pennsylvania government' should give large Belts. The Wampums are cheap, and make, if worked into Belts and attended with proper Speeches, good impression." Although the interpreters might not have fully understood the meaning placed on wampum by the Indians, they certainly knew what was required to make effective, proper impressions during Indian- European conferences. This information proved invaluable to the English colonial governments."


Hagedorn, N. L. 1988. A Friend to go between Them: The Interpreter as Cultural Broker during Anglo-Iroquois Councils, 1740-70. Ethnohistory, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Winter), pp. 60-80.

National Museum of the American Indian .Tehanetorens. 1999. Wampum Belts of the Iroquois. Book Publishing Company, Summertown, TN.

Thwaites, R. G. 1995 (Reprint). Early Western Travels, 1748-1846. Ams Printing Inc.