Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America

Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America

Until 11 July 2021

Part of Mayflower 400, this exhibition unites contemporary indigenous artists and educators in the USA with museums and historic collections in UK.

Told by Wampanoag voices throughout, Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America explores the cultural history of the Wampanoag, their life in America today and their creative aspirations for the future as well as the impact of the colonial past.

Close up of part of the detail from the new wampum belt on display at The Box

Wampum belts are stories of communities and culture made from the sacred shells of Native America. This exhibition centres on a new wampum belt created by the Wampanoag, alongside historic material from British museums. Together, they explore the history, art and culture of the Native Americans who met the passengers of the Mayflower and ensured their survival.

The people who participated in the making of the new wampum belt are sharing the story in the age-old oral tradition of the Wampanoag. The White Pine in the center tells our creation story - that we came from her roots more than 12,000 years ago to become the people of the dawn. This belt will preserve our stories for many generations of Wampanoag to come.

Paula Peters, SmokeSygnals and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation

The new wampum belt on display at The Box

Wampum: Stories and Shells from Native America is a local, national and international project. Created on both sides of the Atlantic, this exhibition connects the US and the UK, Wampanoag artists and English audiences, the past and the present. It also looks to the future and to a new relationship across the ocean.

'Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America' will travel to the Guildhall Art Gallery, London from July - September 2021.

Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America is presented by The Box, Plymouth in partnership with SmokeSygnals, Massachusetts, and supported by Arts Council England as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

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