Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

How Wampum is Made

You must know that the Indians hereabout have no tools of iron or of steel, as do you in Scrooby; but perform all their work by means of fire and sharp pieces of flint stone. In order to have something that can be called money, although they of course do not use that word in speaking of it, they get from the dark spots which are found in clam shells, beads about one-eighth of an inch in thickness and an inch long.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

These they call wampum, and string them on threads cut from the skin of a deer. Because of a great deal of labor's being necessary in the making of them, these bits of wampum, or beads, are valued as highly by the Indians as we value gold or silver, and the savage who would hoard up his wealth that it may be seen of others, makes of these strings of wampum a belt many inches broad.

It is convenient to wear these belts, for when the owner wishes to buy something from another Indian or even from us white people, he has merely to take off one or two strings from the belt, thereby decreasing the width ever so slightly.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

When Massasoit came to Plymouth, he wore three of these wampum belts, and among those who followed him, I saw five or six who had an equal number.


Front Matter

Why This Story was Written
The Leaking Speedwell
Searching for a Home
After the Storm
Wash Day
Finding the Corn
Attacked by the Savages
Building Houses
Miles Standish
The Sick People
The New Home
Master White and the Wolf
Inside of the House
A Chimney Without Bricks
Building the Fire
Master Bradford's Chimney
Scarcity of Food
A Timely Gift
The First Savage Visitor
Squanto's Story
Living in the Wilderness
The Friendly Indians
Grinding the Corn
A Visit From Massasoit
Massasoit's Promise
Massasoit's Visit Returned
The Big House Burned
The Mayflower Leaves Port
Setting the Table
What and How we Eat
Table Rules
A Pilgrim Goes Abroad
Making a Dugout
Governor Carver's Death
Bradford Chosen Governor
Farming in Plymouth
Cooking Indian Corn
The Wedding
Making Maple Syrup
Decorating the House
Trapping Wolves and Pigeons
Elder Brewster
The Visit to Massasoit
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Making Clapboards
Cooking Pumpkins
A New Oven
Making Spoons and Dishes
The Fort and Meeting-House
The Harvest Festival
How to Play Stoolball
On Christmas Day
When the Fortune Arrived
Possibility of Another Famine
On Short Allowance
A Threatening Message
Pine Knots and Candles
Tallow From Bushes
Wicks for the Candle
Dipping the Candles
When James Runs Away
Evil-Minded Indians
Long Hours of Preaching
John Alden's Tubs
English Visitors
Visiting the Neighbors
Why More Fish are not Taken
How Wampum is Made
Ministering to Massasoit
The Plot Thwarted
The Captain's Indian
Ballots of Corn
Arrival of the Ann
Little James Comes to Port
The New Meeting-House
The Church Service
The Tithingmen
Master Winslow Brings Cows
A Real Oven
Butter and Cheese
Settlement at Wessagussett
The Village at Merrymount
The First School
Too Much Smoke
Schools Comforts
How Children Were Punished
New Villages
Making Ready for a Journey
Clothing for Salem
Food for the Journey
Before Sailing for Salem
Beginning the Journey
The Arrival at Salem
Sight-Seeking in Salem
Back to Plymouth