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Wampum: Beads of Diplomacy

Listen to stories from members of several nations to explore the powerful cultural and political symbolism of wampum.

October 19, 2023

The participation of contemporary Indigenous voices in the exhibition Wampum: Beads of Diplomacy highlights the continuing importance of wampum in Indigenous cultures today. Listen to stories from members of several nations to explore the powerful cultural and political symbolism of wampum, and to learn more about their significance and influence today.

Wampum are remarkable objects made from shell beads that were exchanged for over two centuries—from the early 17th to the early 19th century—during diplomatic meetings between nations in northeastern America, including European nations. The exhibition Wampum: Beads of Diplomacy brings together for the first time over 40 wampum belts from public and private collections in Quebec, Canada and Europe.

The McCord Stewart Museum would like to thank all of the people who shared their stories.

  • Darren Bonaparte, Ahkwesahsró:non Historian and Author, Cornwall
  • Ka:nahsohon Kevin Deer, Faithkeeper, Kahnawà:ke
  • Jean-Philippe Thivierge, Office of the Nionwentsïo, Wendake
  • Katsitsénhawe Linda Cree, Kontinónhstats, Kanehsatà:ke
  • Kanerahtenhá:wi Hilda Nicholas, Kontinónhstats, Kanehsatà:ke
  • Teharihulen Michel Savard,Wendat Multidisciplinary Artist, Wendake
  • Hannah Claus, Kanien’kehá:ka Multidisciplinary Artist, Tiohtià:ke


  • Direction: Brad Gros-Louis
  • Editing: Luis Bertrand
  • Music: Native North American Traveling College
    Standing Quiver (Stomp Dance)
    Round Dance
  • Illustrations: Archives du Conseil de la Nation huronne-wendat, Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Debbie Farwell, Division de la gestion des documents et des archives de la Ville de Montréal, Michel Savard. McCord Stewart Museum


The exhibition Wampum: Beads of Diplomacy developed and co-produced with the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.
Presented at the McCord Stewart Museum by Rio Tinto.

This exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada, with the support of the Consulat général de France à Québec.