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NAIS Symposium Brings Wampum Experts to Penn

Hosted by the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Initiative at Penn and held in the Penn Museum’s Widener Lecture Hall, this symposium will focus on wampum—beads carved from white whelk and purple quahog shells that are historically woven into belts and collars. These luminous beads and works of artisanship play a vital role in the history and culture of nations indigenous to the northeastern United States and Canada, and are credited with forming the foundation of a complex system of diplomatic rituals and symbols that record and reflect Indigenous identities and beliefs...

The keynote speaker is Richard W. Hill, Sr. (Tuscarora), coordinator of the Deyohaha:ge Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations in Ohsweken, Ontario, who will discuss, “The Inherent Intelligence of Wampum.” Deyohaha:ge, in the Cayuga language, means “Two Roads.” 

“The name embraces the concept of two streams of knowledge—Indigenous and Western—coming together in order to advance human understanding of the world around us,” Hill says.

The symposium will also feature presentations on wampum in museum collections, including a discussion of a “path belt” in the Penn Museum’s collection by members of the Penn “Wampum Trail” research team. Other activities will include a musical performance, a living history interpretation and display, and a participatory Native American social dance.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the NAIS website. The symposium is free and open to the public.

For the full article, see Penn Current, September 24, 2015.