Wampum Magic was started in 2003 with the idea of restoring the ancient art form of wampum beadwork to the people.
Our goal was to learn and to teach the tribal citizens of Poospatuck and the neighboring tribes the importance of wampum. On this journey, we discovered the exquisite beauty of this shell and could no longer keep it to ourselves.
My name is Lydia, and I am from the Unkechaug Nation of Long Island, NY. Wampum has brought a new perspective to my life. As a direct descendant of the traditional wampum masters, I have a strong feeling of urgency to create the very best wampum beads and jewelry possible. I have been quite successful at this task, showing in several juried art shows, speaking at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and showing with other indigenous artisans around the country. I create my wampum pieces with intention and conviction, always knowing that I am a part of something sacred that has a direct connection to the past, present, and the future.
My pieces embody aesthetic beauty and great historical value. The main ingredient used in my work is called Quahog, otherwise known as “Wampum.” Wampum has been characterized as one of the original forms of currency used in the United States. The early Dutch and English settlers adapted Wampum from coastal Algonquin peoples as an exchange system during early settlement times. My goal is to restore the significance that Wampum once held while reinventing it with an original and contemporary twist.
This beautiful salt-water clamshell possesses a unique and natural look. The swirling patterns found in the shell range from solid deep violets to crisp ivory whites. There also are some strong brown tones in the shell. The coloring creates the piece. When I’m creating a piece, the Wampum beads fit together like an abstract puzzle. The pinstripes of purple against white backgrounds are complimented with clean silver accents. I began making wampum jewelry after being exposed to its traditional and historical contexts. The gem-quality beauty of the Wampum drew me in like a moth to the flame.
The overall feel of the Wampum is strong and empowering. When people see my work, I want them to feel that energy as I do. Each Wampum bead is individually hand made, which gives my pieces a high quality look and feel. My work reflects a never-ending tradition and a symbolic link to the past that is still intact today.
Christopher L. Chavez
My name is Christopher Chavez. I have been working with wampum since 2003. Over the past years I have become highly skilled at working the quahog shell. I manipulate the shell to form it into a beautiful piece of art. I feel a connection to the past artisans who created this wampum tradition ages ago. It is an overwhelming thought to realize that I am a part of a cultural art form that had been lost and now has been rediscovered. I am a humble man, but you wouldn't know it judging me by my work. Original concepts, contemporary wampum jewelry, exquisite carvings, and top notch belts are my gifts to you all. I make wampum for the people who know what wampum is.
My name is Harry Wallace, and I am the elected Chief of the Unkechaug Nation, as well as a member of the Tribal Council on the Poospatuck Reservation in New York State. Our people were known as the “sewanaug,” or, “people of the purple shell,” the original wampum makers. Wampum was traditionally used in ceremonies, as a method of recording significant events in history, and as decoration on clothing and jewelry. Our vision is to restore the ancient art of wampum making, as well as recreate ancient trading relationships with our friends and allies in Indian Country. WampumMagic is a company created and managed by young members of many different native communities who have dedicated their lives to fulfilling this vision. I am proud to be father, uncle and partner to these talented and visionary young artisans.