Photographs (left to right): Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Letchworth State Park, New York; Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Wampum Belt Archive


Ottawa Wampum Belt

Ottawa Belt 1786

Reproduction R. D. Hamell Jan. 30 2017

Original Size:

Rows 516 by 20


Beaded length: 83.5 inches. Width: 9.0 inches.


Polymer. Total: 10,320.


Warp: Leather. Weft: Artificial Sinew


The Ontario Archaeological Report of 1901 described this belt:

It consists of 20 strings of beads, each containing 516 beads, or a total of 10,320 beads. It is a hybrid of Indian pictographs, Roman capitals and Arabic numerals. Let us hope nobody will take this remarkable combination as evidence of Hebrew origin of the Indians. Two antique I's are used for J's, the initials of the name of Sir John Johnson, Bart. The belt was given about the time (1786) of the threatened outbreak between the Indians of the lakes and the new American republic. The volume of Canadian Archives for 1890 (Calendar of State Papers, p. 178) mentions an Indian council in 1786 (July 25), at which deputies of the Ottawas, among others, were present. Perhaps the belt was then given. Mr. Hallen penciled the following remarks on its margin: "This belt, in 1811, was painted red and taken by the Indians when passing through. . . . at the close of the war, in 1815, it was washed. At the beginning of the belt is penciled the following: "The leathers at this end are about three and a half inches long. Appended to the fourth row of beads from the bottom .ire five branches, one of them looped. There is a light blue rib and at the place where they are attached. The branches contain altogether about 828 beads." At the ending is written: "The leathers at this end are about four and a half inches long. Breadth of leathers at this end about one-eighth of an inch."


Annual Archaeological Report (Toronto, Ont. 1901).