Wampum Treaty Belts

Wampum Treaty Belts

Let’s make a deal! Explore the use of symmetry and pattern seen on wampum treaty belts. Design a treaty belt of your own in a similar fashion using Crayola® Bright Fabric Markers!

  • 1.

    Have you ever asked your parents if you could have something or go somewhere, and they responded by saying, “only if you clean your room“, or “not unless you take out the trash?” What agreement did you make in that situation? Did you clean your room, or work out a different agreement?

  • 2.

    This type of exchange is called a negotiation. Discuss some examples of negotiation with your class. What experiences have you had with negotiating?

  • 3.

    When countries or governments negotiate with each other, the agreement they make is called a treaty. Long ago, when Europeans began settling in North America, they made many treaties with native tribes. One such tribe, the Haudenosaunee, recorded their treaties by weaving beautiful wampum belts that symbolized the agreements. Wampum are beads made from mollusk shells, which are highly valued in the Haudenosaunee culture.

  • 4.

    Look at a few examples of wampum belts with your class. Discuss the symmetrical patterns of the designs. What does symmetry mean? Are patterns always symmetrical? What treaties do you think those belts represent?

  • 5.

    Design a treaty belt to represent an agreement you have made with someone. Use symmetrical patterns to symbolize the agreement. Draw the design on a long, wide strip of fabric with Crayola Bright Fabric Markers!

  • 6.

    For best results, use 100% cotton fabric. Place a piece of recycled newspaper underneath the drawing area to prevent bleed through. Draw your design, making sure you saturated the cloth. You can use several layers of color to get the brightest results! Stain Advisement: Fabric markers are permanent on clothing and contain colorants that may stain household surfaces. Wear a smock to protect clothing and cover your work surface. Recap markers as soon as possible and store in a horizontal position. Do not shake markers.

  • 7.

    Be creative! Use lots of shapes, swirls, and patterns to symbolize your treaty. Experiment with applying different levels of pressure on the markers as you draw and layering colors for a variety of effects!

  • 8.

    When you are finished, ask an adult to iron your design. Set iron on cotton setting and iron on the reverse side using a back and forth motion for 4 minutes. Or place the treaty belt in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting. This will fix the color to the fabric.


  • Students define negotiation, treaty, wampum, symmetry, and pattern.
  • Students explore the art of the Haudenosaunee Native American tribe and discuss the use of patterns and symmetry in the tribe’s wampum treaty belts.
  • Students use symbols to represent an agreement or treaty they have made with someone and create treaty belts of their own designs.
  • Students experiment with various techniques for using Crayola Bright Fabric Markers to create interesting color effects.


  • Cornhusk dolls were popular toys for boys and girls of the Haudenosaunee tribe. Make your own cornhusk doll and use Crayola Classic Markers to add facial features and clothing!
  • Practice drawing symmetrical patterns with younger students and those with special needs before creating the treaty belts. Viewing many examples of symmetrical patterns will help students to understand the concept.
  • Assessment: Share your treaty belt with the class and view your classmates’ artwork as well! Compare the symbols they used in each belt. What patterns do you recognize in the designs? Are the patterns symmetrical? Can you guess what agreement is symbolized on the belt?