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A New England Symbol: Colonists and Clambakes

Souvenir of Old Home Week
Souvenir of Providence and Vicinity Old Home Week - July 28, Aug. 3. Won't you come and have some clams with us. Courtesy of Joseph Carlin.
This wampum belt is made of individual beads carved from the purple stain on the inside of a hard shell clam.
Thanksgiving Dinner
Courtesy of Joseph Carlin.


Joseph Carlin"Now, here’s one of the myths about clambakes: they were not invented by the Wampanoags or Native Americans. I wish I could say that, because it would make a wonderful story. Matter of fact, we have no evidence that Native Americans used that practice. We do know that Native Americans all along the coast here, in Ipswich and Essex, were harvesting clams in great numbers. There are a lot of clam middens in this area. Many of them have been excavated. But what the Native Americans were doing, they would build a fire, throw the clams on the fire until they opened, and then they would hang the clams over tree limbs and let them dry out, and then they would skewer them with a piece of rawhide or bark. And then they would transport them to the Seneca Indians, up in Upstate New York, as a trade item. When [the Dutch] saw the beautiful Wampum belts that they were making with clam shells, they went and set up a factory to make Wampum belts, you know, using modern industrial tools. And of course, the overproduction of Wampum resulted in the devaluation of Wampum, and they just destroyed the industry then that they were after to exploit.” - Joseph Carlin

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A New England Symbol: Colonists and Clambakes