Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017


The Native American-European encounter created a multitude of opportunities for understanding and misunderstanding. Linguistic and cultural barriers contributed to the complexity of cross-cultural understanding. In the ca.>e of tubular shell beads known today as wampum, Europeans sought a suitable term to describe the unfamiliar cultural goods that served Native people in ways unfamiliar to Europeans. The French, Dutch, and English experimented with diverse terms-both Native and European-eventually settling on porcelaine, sewant, and wampum, respectively. In doing so, they drew on their linguistic and cultural backgrounds while coming to terms with the Native American languages they encountered. A study of these cross-cultural interactions reveals the nuances and the limits of European understanding, and it demonstrates the cultural linguistic legacy of European colonization.


Originally published in Volume 15, Issue 1(Winter 2017) of

Early American Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal

ISSN: 1543-4273 E-ISSN: 1559-0895

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