By Oannes A. Pritzker 

  Quahaug is the native term (Algonquin language) for the northern bivalve mollusk (Mercenaria mercenaria) commonly called a hard clam. The Quahaug inhabits inter-tidal waters of what’s now called the Atlantic coast of North America. This marine clam is honored by my indigenous people who are now called ‘American Indians.’

 The Quahaug Clam Shell was not only a major source of food to seacoast Tribal Nations, but was also the material used to make our sacred Wampum. Wampum is not just decoration for jewelry, and it was not money as Europeans wrongly think. Wampum was in fact used to make “Treaty Belts.” They depicted native laws and codes of conduct of how to respect and care for each other and our natural world relatives, what in English is called nature: animals, birds, plants, soil, trees, fish and marine life. Kinonwantaquasin, All Of Our Relations, as we say in my Wabanaki language. This is one of the most important Teachings my Nichitanganooks, my ancestors, tried to express to the Wampiskintanuk, the people from across the waters, the settlers who came to our homelands from Europe.

Three hundred fifty six years after the Pilgrims washed ashore at Pautuxet (Plymouth), the monster known as the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station threatened to poison and destroy a culturally and biologically special seacoast area that generations of Penacook and other Tribal peoples inhabited, a place for fishing, clamming, a place for ceremonies.

The formation of the ‘Clamshell Alliance’ to me represents the spirit of this special Quahaug marine relative. It was a time when many different people came together to protect a part of MotherEarth and our own human species from the insanity of nuclear power. This was and continues to be a special concern to us “American Indians.” We are direct victims of the nuclear fuel cycle–mining uranium on Indian Lands, testing nuclear weapons on Indian Lands, and trying to use Indian Lands as nuclear waste dump sites. I remember Clamshell’s “New England No Nukes/No Dumps” rally, and accompanying Grandma Madras & Sami from Indian Island. The three of us spoke to our sister and brother Clams about defending MotherEarth and fighting the proposed nuclear waste dump in our Wabanaki territory on Penobscot land now called Maine.

The Spirit of the Quahaug, the Clamshell, is needed now more than ever. The resurgence of nuclear power throughout the world requires people to come together again, to defend MotherEarth and All Life from the greedy political-economic insanity of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. The Quahaug Wampum reminds us to have reverence for all life, to live in a caring and peaceful manner with each other and all of our relations unto seven generations into the future.

Kinonwantaquasin….All Of Our Relations.

Oannes A Pritzker is a Native Ecologist/Journalist/Activist of Wabanaki heritage. Growing up in what’s now called “New England”,he has spent many years defending Mother Earth & Native communities in different parts of the world. He is Director of the Yat Kitischee Native Center, an Inter-Tribal Cultural/Environmental/Social Justice/News grass-roots organization. Please visit

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