As part of the Year 6 Social Studies curriculum, students have been learning about the Iroquois Confederacy. For their Arts Immersion project, students created traditionally woven wampum belts.
They began their study of the wampum belt by learning about how the belts were used by Iroquois and their importance to the confederacy as record of their collective identity. Students learned how the belts were traditionally made out of shells; how they were used to help with oral storytelling and that each bead has significance to the story each belt records. They looked at examples of wampum belts such as The Great Law Wampum, The Hiawatha Wampum and the Two Row Wampum Treaty, and learned the historical significance of each belt. Students were then asked to create their own wampum belt design, focusing on an important event or story that was significant to them personally.
They began by sharing a story with peers. They were asked to expand and elaborate on their oral story and create a brief outline that would help them organize their thoughts and help them remember key points. From this, students designed symbols to incorporate into their belts that would represent the beginning, middle and end of their story. The belts were graphed onto paper using the traditional colours of purple and white. Students made their own paper beads and began the weaving process to create their wampum belt.