Quahog Wampum

Quahog wampum

Millard, who is half Mohawk, continues the tradition of making Native American goods by hand. She polishes wampum—the purple part of the quahog shell—and makes her own jewelry using this material found along local beaches.

The practice, while traditional, is still very dangerous, says Millard. "It's poisonous to cut without protection," said the store owner, who wears protective gloves and a respiratory mask.

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Millard, a college professor at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), travels to various Native American pow wow to sell her ware. She has been preparing for two pow wows, which were held this past weekend in Lincoln, RI, and Upton, MA.

When asked what she thought of vendors who try to sell fake Native American artwork, she replied with the following:

"It they are selling them at a pow wow as Native made, that's wrong," she said. "If they keep the tags on them, they are being truthful. Love, honor and truth—that's the essence of a pow wow."

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