Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Unknown Belts


Unknown belts held (from left to right) by Dan Thompson, Mike Jock and Harold Edwards, Jr.

Reprinted from Wampum Belts of the Iroquois by Tehanetorens

There are many, many wampum belts that we know of whose meanings have been lost. Some were bought from individual Indians who, in many cases, had no right to sell them. Many were stolen out-right by trickery or force, sometimes by government officials who also had no right to seize them. Some were robbed from graves and placed in museums, and no one recalls their significance. The meaning of others has been lost as Indian communities have been disrupted by missionaries and government officials who have often encouraged Indian people to turn their backs on their own history and culture. In some cases educational officials, who should have known better, have also been guilty of this.

No one knows what the three belts shown in the photograph, a few of many such, mean. Their history and story is lost forever. Not only is this a loss to the Indian, but also it is a loss to non-Indians who are beginning to see the value of a beautiful heritage, Indian heritage, something which all people-Indian and non-Indian-can respect, enjoy, and share. These three belts are displayed as a reminder that unless we protect our culture and our people, we will incur a loss that will bring tears to the eyes of future generations.


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