What is Wampum?

WampumWampum is a traditional shell bead of the tribes of the indigenous people of North America. Wampum includes the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell, and the white and purple beads made from the quahog or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam.

Wampum was used by the northeastern American Indians as a form of gift exchange, and the colonists adopted it as currency in trading with them. Eventually, the colonists developed more efficient methods of producing wampum, which caused inflation and ultimately the obsolescence of it as currency.

Visit Wikipedia where these insights were found, and find more insights on the history and uses of Wampum.

Where Can I Find a Local Wampum Artisan?

The clams used for making wampum are found only along Long Island Sound and right near Green Hill in Narragansett Bay. Just a short drive from Green Hill Beach in Charlestown, RI you will find the The Purple Shell, which is a retail store that offers a beautiful array of Native American craftings including jewelry, pictures, paintings, décor, clothing and more.

Allen Hazard, Sr. Owner, The Purple Shell Charlestown, RI

The Purple Shell is owned and operated by Allen Hazard Sr. who is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribal Nation and has the gift of creating custom Wampum items by hand.

Call ahead for hours and find some time to stop by The Purple Shell this summer where you can learn more about Wampum as a sacred gift from the creator, as embraced by the Narragansett Indians and Allen Hazard himself!

5219 Old Post Road
Charlestown, RI 02813
Store Phone: 401-315-2213
Store Email: purple.shell4@gmail.com

Previous post


Next post

Ninigret Pond Marsh Restoration

The Author

Ann Manion

Ann Manion

I discovered Green Hill, RI seeking simplicity. Our family rented a classic Rhode Island cottage on the hill for nearly 10 years. In 2015 we realized our dream to call a place here our own. I started this blog to share stories about the special people and places around Green Hill & to create an online resource of information for residents and guests of our special beach community.