What is Wampum? Meet Tchin Narragansett and Blackfoot Jewelry Artist.

My name is Tchin. It’s spelled “ T-C-H-I-N” and I’m from New York. I am Narragansett and Blackfeet. Narragansetts are from Rhode Island and Blackfeet from Canada. I make jewelry, I use our traditional wampum from the North Atlantic, sacred to us Narragansett people and items as natural as I can such as bear claws and real arrow points that are many of thousands of years old.

Many of my designs are northern plains peoples designs, Blackfeet designs, traditionally women’s designs because of the geometric shapes. So as a traditional folklorist all my stories are incorporated in my work. It represents all the stories that I know and have told throughout my life, so everything is there.

This is a wampum necklace. Most people don’t know what wampum is, in fact it is seashell and it only occurs in the North Atlantic and scared to us Eastern Indians. It is Purple and white which I use both colors with seaglass, sea stone, sea quartz and just a hint of turquoise to give honor to the southwest native peoples. Here is my overlay sterling silver work. And you can see the sea glass and silver work is all there with the Wampum.

Wampum is traditionally given for example as wedding gifts. When two people are going to marry they exchange wampum or the chiefs would give it to other chiefs when they would send messages, so it is very important for us. Europeans used it as money when they came here. I am really happy with this piece.

So if someone would like to find me or my work they can just web search my name “Tchin” pretty much I’m the only one there. Just put in my name and I come up. I don’t not only make jewelry but I am a professional folklorist on Native Arts and Culture.