Ninigret Salt Pond


Did you know the Native people wasted nothing?

Although archaeologists have found huge refuse heaps of empty shells, the native people of southern New England used shells to make beads known as wampum. Native Americans drilled the shells of the northern whelk and the clam or quahog to make wampum beads. The whelk shells produced white beads while purple beads resulted from the quahog shells.

A bow drill (shown above) made from the bit of a European iron drill, was used to cut a cylindindrical shape out of the shells. These cylinders, generally 5.5 mm in length and 4 mm in width (~3/16 inch), were then strung in a manner similar to which beads on necklaces and belts are strung today.