Wampum Magic© was created to reconnect with ancient traditions of manufacturing wampum beads for use in ceremonies, to record historical events, to trade and re-establish relationships among historical communities, and to create items of beauty.
It began for us in 1996 when the Unkechaug people of Long Island, NY reaffirmed ancient trading relationships with the Passamaquoddy of Maine and the MicMac of Big Cove, New Brunswick. A formal agreement for trade was signed by Tribal leaders and witnessed by Elders of these communities. The Unkechaug offered white Wampum to solemnize the agreement. Wampum beads were difficult to find then, and costly.
The idea developed further when Lydia Chavez, Unkechaug/Blood and Chris Chavez, Meskwaki/Shoshone, graduates of IAIA, began to learn the techniques of making wampum beads and carving shell. It started in their garage on Long Island. Later a factory was built on the Poospatuck Reservation, where large quantities of shell could be stored. The Quahog shell of Wampum Magic© has always come from Long Island, NY. It is of a particular quality in both size and color. Historically, the territory of the Unkechaug, has been noted for the most prized wampum. Machinery for the factory was purchased from Courtney Anderson, a well known maker of wampum beads in New England, and a long time friend of Chief Harry Wallace.
Why do we call ourselves Wampum Magic©? The transformation of the shell into a magnificent form of art – a sacred object – and a symbol of beauty, is nothing short of magical. The shell to us is alive, and to work with it, is to honor a timeless tradition.
Wampum Magic© has become known in the Wampum Universe for the quality of its beads and the speed of its manufacturing process. The lives that we have touched, the people we have met, and the artists we have taught, is the legacy of Wampum Magic©. To play a significant role in the rebirth of wampum in the 21st Century – now that would be magical!