Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia




Wampum, a fabric made by the North American Indians, composed by beads formed out of shells strung or woven together. The word is a contracted form of the Algonkian Wampumpeak, meaning "a string of white shellbeads". Wampum, often in the form of a belt, was much prized among the Indians, both for ornament and for ceremonial purposes. Among many tribes it was also a medium of exchange, and was known as "shell-money". The use of wampum in Canada was commoner among the maritime tribes than among the inland tribes; and wampum in Canada did not acquire the character of money, as it did in the colonies to the south. But it was used here both for ornament and for ceremonial purposes. An exhaustive discussion of the manufacture and use of wampum will be found in the Handbook of the Indians of Canada (Ottawa, 1913).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., p. 256.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College