Manataka American Indian Council









Wigwams and Lodges
by White Owl (Gu'gu'Gwes)



The wigwam was warm and comfortable, easily erected and well suited to the Mi'kmaq semi-nomadic way of life.  The traditional Mi'kmaq shelter the conical wigwam was constructed from poles covered with birch bark strips sewn together with spruce.

Wigwams varied considerably in height and in ground circumference, depending on the season of the year and available materials.  In winter they were built for warmth, shelter and mobility.   Heat was provided by a central fireplace bordered with stones, and smoke escaped through an opening where the poles met at the top of the wigwam.  

Mike Martin applys a second layer of birch bark

Courtesy of Nova Scotia Portrait Museum

In the summer the wigwams were built more rectangular and had two fire pits.  The same construction was used.  In the summer when the Mi'kmaq fished, more than one family would occupy a larger lodge.  Small fir branches were spread on the earthen floor, and over these were laid woven reed mats and moose skins or other covering.

Wigwam Photos - Nova Scotia Archives Management

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