Lodges and Wigwams


Spherical Lodge - Wigw8m
    
The spherical lodge was usually used for one family or a small number
4-12) of people.  This type of lodge was also used for ceremonies 
for healing and sweats.  The typical diameter of these was between 
8 to 14 feet with center heights of 4 to 8 feet.
 
Sweat lodges, Adal8mpsazimek, were usually 10 to 12 feet in diameter 
by 3 to 4 feet in height.  Fixed location Sweat Lodges,  
Atal8mpsazimek, were made from rock and earth at very special 
locations.  Some rare examples of these still exist in New England.    

With the Wigw8m type of lodge it is more important to layout the base 
circle.  Using the center stake, cordage, and marking stick, strike a 
mark on the ground for the circle.  For your first lodge try making 
the overall side to side diameter about three paces, about 10 feet.  
Facing east and then west place two small marking stakes on each side 
of the circle, about a pace apart (3 feet) along the circle mark. 
Do this again facing north and south.  If you do this right you will 
have placed 8 stakes that form parallel lines going east-west and 
north-south from side to side of the circle.  In the spaces between 
the corners of these (the northeast, northwest, southeast, and 
southwest positions) place one stake each.  You should now have 12 
equally spaced stakes around the circle that you marked on the 
ground.
  
At this time you should dig out a small (1 to 2 feet in diameter by 6 
inches deep) hole in the center.  This will be the lodge fire pit or 
the hole for placing the sweat ceremony rocks. 
  
Using the larger stakes made from the sapling cutting, drive a hole 
in the ground at each of the small marking stakes.  These holes 
should be about 12 inches deep and should be tilled slightly away 
from the center of the lodge.  An offering and prayer should be made 
to Mother Earth for each hole you drive into the ground.   
  
 Once you have all the holes made, select four saplings.  Place these 
in the east-west holes.  Drive them in the holes as deep as possible.  
If you did the holes right the poles will stand up on their own and 
will be pointed slightly outward.   To continue the setup you should 
have the help of another two people.  Have one person on each side of 
the (first - east-west, second north-south) circle.  Have them place 
their back to each opposite pole.  Help pull and hold the top over 
their back and downward towards the opposite side.  Do the same on 
the opposite side.  When the two ends or tops are down within reach 
in the center, take the two ends and twist them together.  This will 
form the curved frame of the Wigwam.  Adjust center height by 
changing the length of the poles.  Once you have the right shape and 
height, twist the poles together as many times as they will allow.  
You may also use cordage to tie wrap them as well.  Do the same 
process for the next pair of east-west poles.  Continue this process 
to the north-south poles and tie them together where the east-west 
poles cross the north-south poles.  Finish the poles from the cross 
corners northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast in the same way 
and tie the poles together where they across one another.  If you 
adjust the poles properly the top center of the frame will form a 
true square with a cross from corner to corner.  Before all the cross 
joints are wrapped and tied make sure that all of the poles and rings 
are adjusted properly. The finished frame will look like an upside 
down basket or a pop-up dome tent.
  
The two poles on the east should be about 3 feet apart, this will be 
the door opening.  Determine the height of the door opening and weave 
a ring of smaller branches from pole to pole at this height until a 
full ring is made.  Next make a similar ring about 6 inches up from 
the ground starting from each side of the door opening (leave the 
door opening - open).  Complete a ring about mid-way between these 
two rings in the same fashion.  Above the door ring complete another 
full ring about mid-way from the top of the door to the top of the 
structure.  As required, tie all the stick and pole joints with 
cordage to make it stronger.  Cover the frame with the bark or canvas 
and secure the covering in place.  Leave a flap for the door opening 
and a top-center opening for the fire smoke.   For a sweat lodge the 
door opening and entire lodge must be completely sealed and light-
proof.                 
 
Conical Lodge - Cone Wigwam
  
Conical lodges looked like the western tepees, with the primary 
difference being that the covering was made with rolls of bark 
instead of buffalo hides.  The diameter of these was typically 8 to 
16 feet with center heights of 10 to 20 feet.  The length of the 
poles used will determine the workable diameter and height of this 
type of lodge.  To assemble this type of lodge you will need to 
gather at least 12 poles of approximately the same diameter and 
length.  Approximately 2 feet from the top of the poles you will need 
to tie or lash them together with rope or cordage.  With help you 
will set the poles upright and will equally space the pole ends into 
a circle.  Once you establish the approximate diameter to height that 
you want, you may want to strike a circle mark using a center point 
stake and a set length of cordage that you move around the circle to 
get an equal mark for each pole.  The pole to pole spacing should be 
about 3 feet apart at the ground level.  Make sure to space the poles 
so that two poles will frame the door opening to face the east.   A 
horizontal ring of smaller saplings can be woven between the upright 
poles.  The height of this ring should be 4 to 5 feet to create the 
top of the door opening.  A base ring about 6 inches from the ground 
going around from each side of the door opening and additional 
horizontal rings are helpful to stiffen the structure and outer 
covering.
 
Cover the lodge from the bottom up with the bark so that the next 
layer over-laps the lower one.  If you us canvas, wrap it with one 
sheet starting at the door flap and opening.  The top should be left 
open for the fire smoke.  

Long-House 
  
 The Long-House is a elongated variation of the spherical Wigwam.  
As in the site selection for the other lodges, you will need enough 
area to layout the lodge, a minimum of 20 by 40 feet is needed.
  
The amount and length of poles needed will vary with the overall 
length of and size of the Long-House.  Since you will want the 
ability to walk the length of the lodge you will need to try for a 
center height of 6 to 8 feet and a width between 10 to 12 feet.  This 
height and width will require poles that are at least 15 feet long.

  
To layout this lodge make a center line mark to the length of the 
lodge running east-west.  Start with a small lodge 12 feet wide by 18 
feet in length.  From the center line make parallel side lines of the 
same length 6 feet away. Along these lines place small stakes every 2 
feet.  This will be the spacing for the poles.    
  
Using the larger stakes made from the sapling cutting, drive a hole 
in the ground at each of the small marking stakes.  These holes 
should be about 12 inches deep and should be tilled slightly away 
from the center of the lodge.  An offering and prayer should be made 
to Mother Earth for each hole you drive into the ground.
  
Once the holes are completed, select two poles.  Drive them in the 
holes as deep as possible.  If you did the holes right the poles will 
stand up on their own and will be pointed slightly outward.                    
  
To continue the setup you should have the help of another two people.  
Have one person on each side of the lodge layout.  Have them place 
their back to each opposite pole.  Help pull and hold the top over 
their back and downward towards the opposite side.  Do the same on 
the opposite side.  When the two ends or tops are down within reach 
in the center, take the two ends and twist them together.  This will 
form the curved frame of the Long-House.  Adjust center height by 
changing the length of the poles.  Once you have the right shape and 
height, twist the poles together as many times as they will allow.  
You may also use cordage to tie wrap them as well.  Do the same 
process for the next pair of poles.  Continue this process until all 
of the side poles are assembled.  The frame will look like a series 
of hoops.

At the east and west ends a door frame will be assembled.  To do this 
go back to the center line mark, extend the mark east and west 
another 3 feet.  From the center line place a mark stakes left and 
right of the center line, make this opening about 3 feet wide.  Put 
and drive poles in each hole.  As in the way that the other poles 
were bent, bend these poles down to the height of the other pole 
hoops.  Weave the end of these poles over and under each hoop as 
cross them.  Adjust each crossing so that these poles form two 
parallel top ridge poles. Tie each crossing with cordage as required.  
The poles from the east and west ends will not be long enough to reach 
the middle, Additional poles must be woven along the same line 
that the east-west poles are assembled.  Wrap and tie these poles 
together to make a strong set of top center ridge poles.
 
 Determine the height of the door opening and weave a ring of smaller 
branches from pole to pole at this height until a full ring is made.  
Next make a similar ring about 6 inches up from the ground starting 
from each side of the door openings (leave the door openings - open).  
Complete a ring about mid-way between these two rings in the same 
fashion.  Above the door rings complete another full ring about mid-
way from the top of the doors to the top of the structure.  As 
required, tie all the stick and pole joints with cordage to make it 
stronger.  Cover the frame with the bark or canvas and secure the 
covering in place.  Leave a flaps for the door openings and a top-
center opening for the fire smoke.
  
At this time you should dig out a small (1 to 2 feet in diameter by 6 
inches deep) hole in the center.
  
Offerings and prayers should be made to Mother Earth for the use of 
the land for the lodge and fire pit.
  
When using the Long-House lodge the men enter through the eastern 
door and the women enter through the west door.  The men sit in the 
eastern end facing the fire to the west.  The women sit in the 
western end facing the fire to the east.       

Also See: Shelter

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