What is the origin of wampum?
Wampum is a shortened form of wampumpeag, also spelled variously as wampampeak and wampompeage, and was borrowed from the Massachusett language, in which it roughly meant “white strings.” Massachusett was one of the original Indigenous languages of New England, along with Narragansett, Mohegan, Mahican, Maliseet, and Abenaki, among others; of all these, only Abenaki and Maliseet survive today. However, a dialect of Massachusett, Wampanoag (also known as Wôpanâak), is currently undergoing revitalization. These languages belong to the greater Algonquian family, which includes Cree and Ojibwe in Canada, Arapaho and Cheyenne in the Plains, and even Delaware and Powhatan along the East Coast. Wampum entered English in the early 1600s.