Wampum has been treasured for its’ beauty, spiritual and social bonds by Native peoples of New England and beyond for centuries. On, Saturday, September 19 visitors to The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut will find out why wampum has been revered for so long and what it means to Native people.
Today, Native artists continue to craft wampum jewelry and belts to record tribal history. To learn about the significance of wampum and how it continues to provide social and spiritual bonds among Native peoples, visitors are invited to join Allen Hazard, of the Narragansett tribe and one of the most well-known wampum artists in the country for an outdoor presentation about wampum from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Hazard is a renowned jewelry sculptor and wampum artist that will share both the traditional way wampum was made and how he uses modern tools and techniques to create handcrafted bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and medallions. Hazard’s designs are inspired by his Narragansett heritage and from the generations of his family members that have passed this art form down.
A highlight of this demonstration is to watch the remarkable processes of how wampum is made from two different shells. The white pieces of wampum are made from the whelk, a sea snail, and the purple pieces are made from a quahog. These shells are found in the ocean water south of Cape Cod to New York, with an abundance of them in Long Island Sound. Another interesting aspect is how Hazard uses modern tools such as wet saws and dremels to show how he makes modern wampum jewelry based on his cultural traditions.
The color of the beads had meaning for the Algonquians that lived in the Eastern Woodlands. The white beads represented purity and light and were used as gifts to mark important events like births and marriages. The purple beads represented serious events like war or death. The combination of these beads represent the duality of the world, light, and darkness, man, and woman, life, and death.
This program is included in the price of admission: IAIS members are free, Adults are $10, seniors are $8, and children are $6. Please call 860-868-0518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. In accordance with health protocols, when attending this event, masks are required inside the museum and outside the museum when you are within six feet of other visitors, museum staff, or visiting presenters.
This program is partially funded through a grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation.
About the Institute for American Indian Studies
Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the Institute For American Indian Studies preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. They have the 16th c. Algonquian Village, Award-Winning Wigwam Escape, and a museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT.