Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Wampum (small beads made from polished shells).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The name used by the Algonquin Indians for the shell beads which passed among the Indians as money.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From an Munsee word like *séwan, meaning "unstrung wampum, scattered wampum". The term entered English via (New Amsterdam) Dutch.

Examples

  • Smiling and bashful she stood there in her clinging skirt and wampum-broidered vest, her slender, rounded limbs moulded into soft knee-moccasins of fawn-skin, and the Virgin's Girdle knotted across her thighs in silver-tasselled seawan.

    The Hidden Children

  • And in the evening the savages suspended a band of seawan, and some other stringed seawan that the chief had brought with him from the French savages as a sign of peace and that the French savages were to come in confidence to them, and he sang: "Ho schene jo ho ho schene I atsiehoewe atsihoewe," after which all the savages shouted three times:

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • In the evening more than forty fathoms of seawan were divided among them as the last will of the savages that had died of the smallpox.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • "Netho, netho, netho!" and after that another band of seawan was suspended and he sang then: "Katon, katon, katon, katon!" and all the savages shouted as hard as they could: "Hy, hy, hy!"

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • We ate fresh salmon only two days caught, and we were robbed to-day of six and a half hands of seawan that we never saw again.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • They told us that the Frenchmen gave six hands of seawan for one beaver, and all sorts of things more.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • And if you will give us four hands of seawan we will not sell our skins to anyone but you; and after that they gave me the five beaver skins, and shouted as hard as they could: "Netho, netho, netho!"

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • After we sat for a considerable time, an old man came to us, and translated it to us in the other language, and told us that we did not answer yet whether they were to have four hands of seawan or not for their skins.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • They sold each salmon for one florin or two hands of seawan.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

  • Jeronimus and Tomassen, with some savages, joined us in this castle, Tenotogehage, and they still were all right; and in the evening I saw another hundred fathoms of seawan divided among the chief and the friends of the nearest blood.

    Narratives of New Netherland, 1609-1664

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