Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America

Wampum belts are the closest thing to written history for Wampanoag people - and the creation of a new belt is the focus of this short film.

Nearly four centuries ago, the breakdown of the alliance between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims was almost inevitable. Once the Europeans’ new need was to expand their land for their cattle and their farms, it required them to further encroach on the land of the Wampanoag. This in turn led to a number of conflicts and, ultimately, King Philip’s War in 1676.

Following a bloody battle that claimed the lives of thousands, Wampanoag leader Metacom was killed and his prized wampum belt seized.

The belt was turned over to the Governor of Plymouth Colony, Josiah Winslow, who had written a war report and was planning to deliver spoils of war back to the King of England.
 Winslow handed them to his brother-in-law, Waldegrave Pelham, who then took the belt across to England where it’s unclear what happened after that.

All that is known, is that it was never delivered to the King…

Now, to mark 400 years of shared history between nations, Wampanoag artists and scholars have created a new wampum belt in partnership with The Box Plymouth, that will tour the UK in a project of huge cultural significance.

Titled ‘Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America’, the exciting new exhibition will tell the story of the Wampanoag and the making of this new belt.

This fascinating short film tells the story of this remarkable project with echos of centuries of Native American history. You’ll hear from Dr Kathryn Gray, Associate Professor (Reader) in Early American Literature at the University of Plymouth, and Jo Loosemoore, curator of Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy for The Box Plymouth, as well as Paula Peters from SmokeSygnals.

Find out more about the 'Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America’ exhibition here.

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