MANHATTAN BEADS

Donated by Peter Carlson Sagebrush Productions, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Attached is a photo of one of the two strings of ancient Dutch glass trade beads originally used for purchasing the island of Manhattan in 1629. We have two strings; one with ten beads, and another with forty-eight. I wasn't there to personally see the beads change hands, but the provenance is very compelling. Below is an excerpt written by Dr. Jim Gillian, a respected expert appraiser who also worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to determine authenticity and repatriation of Indian artifacts and human remains. His reputation is untarnished.

Sweetgrass Productions, Inc. owns all fifty-eight beads and they are believed to be the only surviving beads with a strong and compelling provenance. Sweetgrass is a 501C3 whose mission is the gathering, preservation, and dissemination of Native American culture and wisdom. The value of these beads is estimated to be between $10,000 and up, possibly more. The truth is nobody really knows what they are worth because there just isn't any more of them. Nothing is priceless, but these gems of history come damn close. What we are proposing is that a "sizable" tax deductible donation be made to the 501C3 and all or a number of beads would be a thank you gift ... accountants and lawyers to work out the details.

And now a few words from Jim Gillihan ...
This Collection of Multi-colored Wound-Glass Trade Beads were included among those Originals traded by the Dutch to the Canarsee (Manhattan) Indians for Manhattan Island in 1626.The Beads passed down in the family of Elizabeth Adams, A Shinnecock Indian in New York.I have a tag Xerox from the string of Original Beads in the writing of the Bead Dealer from New York who purchased them from her in the early 1900’s.

The beads have been positively identified by experts from the Chicago Bead Society as being typical of the 17th Century Dutch Trade Beads.They are illustrated in color in Lois Sherr Dubin’s wonderful book entitled “The History of Beads” (LC 95-75640) in a foldout chart showing the evolution of beads from 30,000 B.C. to the Present.She identifies them as 101 a-c and 102 a-f.





In a Teaching Card distributed in the New York School by@Sup. Educ. Assn. entitled “The Dutch in America” one can find the following statement: “Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for twenty-four dollars worth of beads, ribbon, brass, buttons and red cloth”.

In her history of beads, Lois Sherr Dubin can be quoted to say: “The English Henry Hudson, who reached North America in 1609 and sailed up the river bearing his name, is known to have traded beads, knives and hatchets to the local Indians during his journey.It seems likely that Company, included as one of its founders Jan Jansz Carel, Owner of the Amsterdam Glassworks”.

Karlis Karklins in an article entitled “Dutch Trade Beads in North America” in Proceedings of the 1982 Glass Trade Bead Conference (LC 83-61175) Karklins, who has written several articles on Dutch Trade Beads, states that the beads were “produced from around 1597 to at least 1698, and possibly as late as 1750 and traded into eastern North America by merchants from Dutch Republic, England and France”.

Karklins also states in the same source that “with the advent of skilled artisans from Venice and Murano during the second half of the 16th Century, a number of glass works sprang up from 1597 to 1698. Amsterdam was another early bead producer.The earliest recoded factory for this purpose, as well as the manufacture of various sorts of drinking glasses and crystal mirrors, was founded in 1602 by Jan Jansz Carel, a principal share holder in the newly formed United East India Company.Eighty families were busy making beads for export to the uncivilized people of the world until the Carel Factory closed in 1633”.It would be easy to surmise that as a partner in the Company that acquired New York whose purpose it was to supply the North American Indian Trade and who, because his factory was failing in 1626 when the Island was acquired, and then it supplied the beads for the trade.It is not currently possible to prove this without question, but it is my expert opinion that it was true.The Oral Tradition supports it and has continued for nearly 375 years!

One of the major questions raised by critics of the trade is in the examination of the concept of “trade” by the Native American and White Culture.As an enrolled member of the Western Cherokee Nation of Arkansas and Missouri and as the Former Advisor to Governor Kneip of South Dakota (1973-1978), I have long studied viewpoints that are on opposite end of the scale.First Native People say that the Earth is their mother; how can you sell your mother?They would be happy, however to let you use it in exchange for a gift of beads or other things just to save social face.

Another view to be critical of the veracity of oral history comes from the inherent “guilt complex” of the European who did a real wrong on the Native People on his “March of Manifest Destiny”.Some say the event did not take place because they did not want to admit it.If I was the Dutch or even New York Historian, I would not admit it until I had a video of the event taking place.

In 1950, I began to realize the need for a comparative bead collection to compare the beads on museum artifacts with known dated and identified beads from each country of origin.Among the beads collected were 3 sent to me by Plip Van Der Kai, curator at the Hague Museum in Holland.They were manufactured in the 17th Century by Jan Jasz Carel, owner of a glassworks and a partner of Dutch West India Company who settled New York in colonial times.These 3 beads are identical to the beads in this collection.The tag attached to the string of beads purchased from Elizabeth Adams indicated that the beads owner was a Shinnecock Indian, one of the many small tribes occupying the New York area since the 17th century.Elizabeth’s decedents were located and they told me that she had a great number of historic papers and “artifacts” that disappeared from the family during the generation.She died in the early 20th Century as a centurion.Valuable properties, including land parcels belonging to the tribe were lost.I have visited on the phone with her grand daughter who still lives on Manhattan Island and she has confirmed the information about her Grandmother.The Tribe has six of the original beads in their museum and they match.

It is my opinion as an expert, with supporting identification by other members of the Chicago Bead Society that these are the Original Dutch Bead traded to the Native American on Manhattan Island in 1629.

Take a look at the beads on the Sherr Chart numbered 102- d-f and study the descriptions in the 1982 Glass Bead Conference Proceedings.Yes, these beads were made by Carel and were given as a gift to the Canarsee Indians by Peter Minuit.The Canarsee let the Dutch use the land.The Dutch said “good trade”; the Canarsee became another statistic added to the treatment of Native People by the Europeans and Americans.

These beads represent an important part of American History.They will increase in value through time, as it is very unlikely that additional ones, with this documentation, will ever be found.
Dr. James E. Gillihan Senior Appraise

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