Drawings of Broken Quahog Clam Shells: Wampum &Memory, Vacation &Consciousness
by Cecelia Chapman
Cape Cod, where I am living, is a premier vacation destination. It is ringed with ivory sand beaches covered in pieces of purple-edged quahog clam shells. North American Wampanoag Indians carved the shells into ‘wampum beads.’ They wove the beads in designs that are records of complicated lineages of tribes, pacts and gatherings in the paradise peninsula 7,000 years before Europeans arrived. One design documents a more recent land arrangement with early European settlers:
‘As long as the Sun shines upon this Earth, that is how long OUR Agreement will stand; Second, as long as the Water still flows; and Third, as long as the Grass Grows Green at a certain time of the year. Now we have Symbolized this Agreement and it shall be binding forever as long as Mother Earth is still in motion.’
It is interesting to note, if scientists proceed with a plan of blocking sunlight to prevent global warming or cloud cover is completely lost, and if water dries up and is poisoned with the soil by fracking, pesticides, oil spills, toxic chemicals, Monsanto and tourist jet plane pollution, tourist plastic waste and tourist sunblock, only a dead earth is left spinning. Then this agreement might very well be null and void.
‘Wampum’ became a common American slang word for money when European explorers and settlers used the wampum beads as currency with the Indians. Later settlers learned to mass produce the beads, flooding the market with predictable results. Then the settlers stole the Indian lands.
I used Asemic writing over the drawings of broken Quahog clam shells because wampum beads are about memory. And the capitalist recreation we call ‘vacation’ is about altering the workers’ consciousness to make it more tolerant of capitalist slavery. Asemic writing is about altering consciousness. It is a creative act that might be considered more valuable than we realize in altering consciousness, thought and behavior patterns. And that needs to be remembered. http://ceceliachapman.com/club-paradise