“People hate the idea that Manhattan was bought from Native Americans for beads, because modern people think beads are basically worthless. But there’s really nothing scandalous about a sale involving beads. The presumption that the natives who accepted the beads as money were foolish comes from the person hearing this story and not from the story itself. It’s informed not only by cultural guilt but by our own modern sense of what objects are worth. If we accept that beads are valueless, if we believe that the native population sold its land for worthless trinkets, then it logically follows that we must malign the intelligence and integrity of the Native Americans who lived there. The cheapness of beads is a postindustrial perception.”

- Aja Raden, Stoned: How Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World