Photographs (left to right): Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Florida; Custer, South Dakota; Tetons, Wyoming

Wampum Belt Archive


Tecumseh's Great Wampum Belt

(no original drawing or picture found)

Hypothetical Reconstruction: R. D. Hamell August 11 2016

Original Size:



Beaded length: 33.5 inches. Width 5.75 inches. Length w/fringe: 57.5 inches.


Rows: 206 by 13 beads wide. Total: 2,678


Warp: deer leather. Weave: artificial sinew.


Excerpt from Sandy Antal (Epigraph, 1998)

"After the Seven Years' War of 1756-63, the British government presented the Natives of the "Old Northwest" with the Great Wampum Belt. One end of the symmetrical arrangement was white, the other darker, each end end featuring a black hand. The belt was joined in the Centrex by a figure of a heart, signifying the common interests of the two sides. During the following decades, the Natives engaged in a losing struggle against relentless American encroachment onto their lands.

In 1811, the Shawnee was chief, Tecumseh, produced the Great Wampum in council as an invitation to rejuvenate the alliance in his forthcoming struggle with the United States. British officials accepted the offer, repeatedly assuring their allies that there would be no peace without the recognition of a Native state south of the Great Lakes. Despite a string of stunning military successes, British-Native fortunes waned, as did the notion of a Native state, and by September 1813, Tecumseh threatened to cut the Great Wampum in two.

This is the story of the War of 1812 on the Detroit frontier."


Antal, Sandy. 1998. A Wampum Denied: Proctor's War of 1812. McGill Queens University Press, 450 pp.