Indigenous “Texts” of Inhabiting the Land

George Washington’s Wampum Belt and the Canandaigua Treaty


  • Philip P. Arnold Syracuse University



Wampum belts, Native American treaties


Wampum is symbolic, or iconic, of a long and enduring lineage of immigrant and indigenous relationships in North America throughout the colonial and into the American period. Wampum almost always represented co-habitation agreements for how diametrically different human communities—colonial and indigenous peoples—could live together on the same lands. A vivid example is the George Washington Wampum Belt created by the U.S. government to commemorate the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794. Vitally important for understanding this agreement is that wampum is a sacred and ceremonial material that has been utilized by the Haudenosaunee since time immemorial until the present day.

Author Biography

Philip P. Arnold, Syracuse University

Associate Professor of Indigenous Religions, Syracuse University.


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How to Cite

Arnold, P. P. (2012). Indigenous “Texts” of Inhabiting the Land: George Washington’s Wampum Belt and the Canandaigua Treaty. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 6(1-3), 277–289.