The Huron Gift to Kahnawà:ke

This wampum belt was given to the Mohawks of Kahnawà:ke by the Hurons of Lorette (Wendake), circa 1677.  This was the year Káteri Tekahkwí:tha arrived after leaving the original Kahnawà:ke in the Mohawk Valley.  For years it was kept at the Mission of St. François Xavier in Kahnawà:ke until it was stolen in the 1970s.   The belt is mentioned in Volume 63 of the Jesuit Relations:

This year will be remarkable for a celebrated present which was sent from lorette to the Sault. It was a hortatory collar which conveyed the voice of the Lorette people to those of the Sault, encouraging them to accept the faith in good earnest, and to build a chapel as soon as possible; and it also exhorted them to combat the various demons who conspired for the ruin of both missions. This collar was at once attached to one of the beams of the chapel, which is above the top of the altar, so that the people might always behold it and hear that voice.

It has been suggested that this was a “Seven Nations of Canada” belt, but it originated long before this alliance came to be formally known by that name.  Displayed so prominently in the community that became the “central fire” of that alliance, it may have been the inspiration for Tsiata Nihononhwentsiá:ke all along.

Below is a reproduction I made of the wampum belt in 2003.  The pictures beneath it are actual photos of the belt, taken from a postcard available at the Catholic church in Kahnawà:ke, the 1922 book Historic Caughnawaga,” a newspaper article, and a website, respectively.

Huron Wampum Belt

Replica of the Huron wampum belt given to Kahnawà:ke Mohawks in 1677.
Reproduction and photograph by the author.


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