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Wampum

The wampum belts were made of beads from seashells, and those beads were polished, rounded and pierced, strung in rows to form rectangular strips, or sometimes simple strings. The size of wampum, color, and emblems created by alternating white and purple beads are never due to chance: wider beadwork, larger than a branch, had a greater symbolic value during negotiations. The white meant peace and life, purple symbolized mourning and red was a sign of war. For the, wampum conveyed the voice and speech, its intention to affirm or validate in a ritualized way the transmitted message. Having explained the proposal that accompanied each wampum belt he placed it at the speaker’s feet. If the wampum belt was accepted, it meant that the message would be taken into consideration and that there would be a positive response, itself supported by a wampum belt. However, the wampum belt and its message could be immediately rejected. For example, in 1698, Frontenac refused an Iroquois belt, inviting him to return the hostages and prisoners held. "(Harvard, 1992, p. 23).