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A Wampum is a traditional shell bead that was often kept on strings and used in storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and recording important treaties and historical events. In 1613 a mutual treaty between the Dutch Government and the Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) was recorded on The Two Row Wampum treaty belt. The agreement is considered by the Haudenosaunee to be the basis of all of their subsequent treaties with European and North American governments.
This wampum records the meaning of the agreement, which declared peaceful coexistence between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in the area. The pattern of the belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads against a background of white beads. The purple beads signify the courses of two vessels — a Haudenosaunee canoe and a European ship — traveling down the river of life together, parallel but never touching. The three white stripes denote peace and friendship.