Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Great Britain and Six Nations Friendship Belt


Roger Jock holding Friendship Belt.

Reprinted from Wampum Belts of the Iroquois by Tehanetorens

The Keeper of the Wampum was thoroughly versed in the interpretation of the wampum records, and once or twice a year he took the belts and wampum strings and recited their meanings to the public-for use in ritual and ceremony, white indicated peace, health, and good will, while purple indicated sorrow, death, and mourning. A string comprised entirely of purple wampum was sent by one nation to the chiefs of a related nation to notify them of the death of a chief. A white wampum string painted red was sent as a declaration of war. A belt having a hatchet designed on it and painted red was sent with a bag or roll of tobacco to a nation as an invitation to join in war. Belts were employed for official communication and for summoning councils. The selected delegates from other nations presented belts or strings as their credentials. At the opening of a council, an address was made to the representatives from each nation in turn and a belt given to them which they preserved as a substitute for a written record.

Belts were used also for the ratification of treaties and the confirmation of alliances. This belt is a treaty belt and expresses friendship. The squares represent two nations, the Iroquois and the British. The dark square in the center of the wider square represents their council fire or government. The purple line connecting the squares represents the friendly pathway between them. Roads from one friendly nation to another are generally marked by one or two rows of wampum running through the middle of the belt from end to end. It means that they keep up friendly intercourse with each other.


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