Kees Waterman


Wampum had many different functions. It had a very high symbolic value for the Iroquois and the Mahicans (who were the customers of Wendell) because it worked as a kind of registration of agreements. Or between two people or between two groups, indigenous or indigenous Europeans. If a specific agreement was reached, a long belt was exchanged symbolically, if one party gives one then the other group expects something in return, as agreements to what was discussed. That is one side. On the other hand wampum has a set monetary value, as money.  Difficult object Рit had symbolic value and obvious purchasing power. In many account books you see things calculated in terms of fathoms of sewant. Woven sewant. Sewant is a Dutch name for wampum, sewant is another Indian name for wampum and it was traded to the interior by the Dutch.

Kees’s reference: To Do Justice to Him & Myself: Evert Wendell’s Account Book of the Fur Trade with Indians in Albany, New York, 1695-1726 by Evert Wendell. (2008) Edited and translated by Kees Waterman, with linguistic information by Gunther Michelson.