KING PHILIP’S BELT: THE STORY OF WAMPUM

DKR FILMS - as PROD

Documentary - Post-Production 2020

Today, for the first time in almost over 300 years the Native-American Wampanoag tribes are weaving a new ceremonial wampum belt. They believe/hope this belt will "call out" to the legendary belt once worn by Sachem King Philip (Metacom), lost to history after his death at the hands of colonist.

    • Year of production
    • 2020
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Historical, Social issues
    • Countries
    • USA, UNITED KINGDOM
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Budget
    • N/A
    • Duration
    • 26 mn
    • Synopsis
    • The Wampanoag Native-Americans of New England - know as "People of the First Light" - were the tribe that was encountered by the English colonists known in the United State as "the Pilgrims." In 2019 two descendent tribes in Mashpee on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Aquinnah, in Martha's Vineyard, joined efforts to weave a ceremonial wampum belt for the first time in several hundred years. This short film structured in three episodes documents its creation. Local artisans were engaged to craft thousands of beads and spent almost a year weaving the belt. The creation of the new belt was part of a broader campaign to more accurately educate audiences about the complex relationship between English colonists - The Pilgrims - and their Native American counterparts. The timing of the belt’s construction and production of the films was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival in the New World. Through intimate access of tribal leaders, archivists, artisans and scholars we learn of the history and cultural relevance of wampum beads. These tiny beads constructed form quahog clam shells have plaid an integral role in the history of Native-Americans for centuries.

      From 1676 to 1677 King Philip’s War ravaged villages of the English and Wampanoag in Southeastern Massachusetts to become known as the bloodiest conflict to be fought on American soil. King Philip, the English title bestowed on the Wampanoag Sachem Metacom, fought to his last breath defending his people, their heritage, their sovereignty, and their land. In the final act of that bloody war Metacom was slain by Captain Benjamin Church after which the sachem’s loyal war chief, Anawon, turned over the most sacred tribal treasures of Metacom before he himself was killed. The most revered of these treasures was the wampum belt that served as a document of the tribe’s history interpreted through images and symbols woven into the design. Belts such as this one were held by the most highly regarded leaders and often left unfinished to invite the continuation of the story. The belt was sent to the king of England but never arrived - lost to history.