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What is Wampum?
Wampum 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.
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!