Ninigret Salt Pond


Wasn't wampum used as money by Native Americans?

No, contrary to what many people believe, wampum was not used as money. Wampum was sacred and used by various Native American peoples for many purposes other than currency. For example, wampum was woven together with sinew to create patterns and pictures that symbolized the historical and family events of the people. Among the Wampanoag, a southern New England nation, warriors used wampum belts to help them remember certain events that they shared as stories during annual feasts. The new events of each year were woven into the belt and added a new chapter to the tribal history. The belts grew longer and longer with each passing year.


Other native people in New England used wampum for trade, gifts (for political or social obligations), and decoring or ornamenting the apparel of sachems or other special people. Wampum was also used as a record of agreements between native nations and European colonists or explorers.