Photographs (left to right): Various Deserts, California

Wampum Belt Archive


Treaty of Detroit


Detroit Treaty Belt 1760

DHS 1949.091.001

Detroit Historical Society



Courtesy Detroit Historical Society

Reproduction R. D. Hamell (Dec. 25, 2012)


Original Size:

Rows: 7. Columns 163.


Beaded Length: 30.7 inches. Width: 3.25 inches. Length w/fringe: 54.7 inches.


7 vertical rows by 163. Total beads: 1.141.


Warp: leather. Weft: artificial sinew.



"One question we get asked frequently is “what is the oldest artifact in your collection?”, though it isn’t always easy to come up with an answer. The oldest Detroit-related artifact in the collection is a 250 year-old wampum treaty belt. This wampum belt, made of traditional purple and white shell beads, was the Native American method for recording important events–in this case the transfer of a large piece of land. The belt was attached to a handwritten deed for 20,000 Acres at the west end of Lake Superior to British Army Major Robert Rogers from the Chippewa tribe. The deed was signed at Detroit on December 23, 1760 by Chiefs Ogemavas, Nawkusick, Moyeltice, and Kechicushonce. While the treaty did give ownership of the land to the British, the Chippewa retained hunting and fishing rights.

"According to the deed, “a desire to convince the World that we will grant him our Country with Troop as well as for the Consideration of 100 white blankets, Fifty [illegible] blankets, Twenty barrels of Rum, forty Pounds Vermillion, Twenty thousand wampum and three hundred pounds of Gunpowder, Two hundred of Shot and Ball.” The deed was signed less than a month after Rogers had taken over Detroit’s Fort Pontchartrain from the French. Rogers had interests in the Upper Peninsula but because of the late season postponed going to Michilimackinac to transfer that post from the French. Roger’s possible connection to the land on the west side of Lake Superior occurred when he sent an expedition there while trying to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. The signed deed was transferred to the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, in 1949."

This is an unusual presentation of a wampum belt. The belt is affixed to a deed recording that the Chippewa transferred to Major Robert Rogers about 20,000 acres of land at the west end of Lake Superior. Both belt and deed are the property of the Detroit Historical Society. The transfer took place on December 23, 1760 and the area was bounded by Lake Superior on the north, Intonation River on the east, and the Copper River on the west. See the article by Grenman for more information (Lovell. 2012).

Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library


Grenman, Emerson F. 1962. Three Michigan Wampum Belt. Michigan Archaeologist Journal.

Hill, Rick. 2012. Six Nations. Personal Communications.

Lovell, Adam. 2012. Detroit Historical Society. Curator of Collections, Detroit Historical Soc., 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202, 313-297-8391.