Published on July 12, 2012 by Amy
A wigwam was a round building with a round top. It was made from tree logs, covered again with bark. Some were additionally covered with mats or hide. Some were quite large – about 6 feet long. There were huge rush mats in front of the fire, and brightly dyed mats on the walls. The women made the wigwam as colorful as they could. Extended families – kids, parents, and grandparents – all lived together in one wigwam.
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A wigwam is not a tipi. A tipi is totally portable. It is made with long poles covered with hides. Some wigwams were fixed shelters. Some were a mix of permanent and portable.
The Ojibwa, for example, made their wigwams by covering a wood frame with hide and then covering the hide with bark. When an Ojibwa family moved to a new location, the hide was rolled up and taken with them. The frame stayed. When they returned the following year, or several years later, they simply unrolled the covering they always carried, and placed it on the frame. If a frame was not available, they would make a new one.
Today, Native Americans live in houses just like yours and mine. But in olden times, many parts of the country had its own distinctive style of home.