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A wigwam, wickiup or wetu is a domed dwelling formerly used by certain Native American and First Nations
First Nations
tribes, and still used for ceremonial purposes. The term wickiup is generally used to label these kinds of dwellings in the Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
and Western United States, while wigwam is usually applied to these structures in the Northeastern United States
Northeastern United States
and Canada. Wetu is the Wampanoag
Wampanoag
term for a wigwam dwelling. These terms can refer to many distinct types of Native American structures regardless of location or cultural group. The wigwam is not to be confused with the Native Plains tipi, which has a very different construction, structure, and use.

Contents

1 Structure

1.1 Wickiups of the West

2 "Wigwam" in different Algonquian languages 3 Use of similar dwellings elsewhere today 4 See also 5 References 6 Bibliography 7 External links

Structure[edit]

Paiute wickiup

The domed, round shelter was used by numerous Native American cultures. The curved surfaces make it an ideal shelter for all kinds of conditions. These structures are formed with a frame of arched poles, most often wooden, which are covered with some sort of roofing material. Details of construction vary with the culture and local availability of materials. Some of the roofing materials used include grass, brush, bark, rushes, mats, reeds, hides or cloth. Men built the wigwams and the women put on the coverings.[citation needed]

Dakota-style tipis and Ojibwe
Ojibwe
wigwam, White Earth, Minnesota, 1928

Ojibwe
Ojibwe
wigwam, from an 1846 painting by Paul Kane

Wigwams were most often seasonal structures although the term is applied to rounded and conical structures built by Native American groups that were more permanent. Wigwams usually take longer to put up than tipis and their frames are usually not portable like a tipi. A typical wigwam in the Northeast had a curved surface which can hold up against the worst weather. Young green tree saplings of just about any type of wood, ten to fifteen feet long, were cut down and bent. While the saplings were being bent, a circle was drawn on the ground. The diameter of the circle varied from ten to sixteen feet. The bent saplings were then placed over the drawn circle, using the tallest saplings in the middle and the shorter ones on the outside. The saplings formed arches all in one direction on the circle. The next set of saplings were used to wrap around the wigwam to give the shelter support. When the two sets of saplings were finally tied together, the sides and roof were placed on it. The sides of the wigwam were usually bark stripped from trees. The male of the family was responsible for the framing of the wigwam. Mary Rowlandson
Mary Rowlandson
uses the term Wigwam
Wigwam
in reference to the dwelling places of the Native Americans that she stayed with while in their captivity during King Philip's War
King Philip's War
in 1675. The term wigwam has remained in common English usage as a synonym for any "Indian house"; however this usage is incorrect as there are known differences between the wigwam and the tipi within the Native American community. During the American revolution the term wigwam was used by British soldiers to describe a wide variety of makeshift structures.[1] Wickiups of the West[edit] Wickiups were used by different indigenous peoples of the Great Basin, Southwest, and Pacific Coast. They were single room, dome-shaped dwellings, with a great deal of variation in size, shape, and materials. The Acjachemen, an indigenous people of California, built cone-shaped huts made of willow branches covered with brush or mats made of tule leaves. Known as Kiichas, the temporary shelters were utilized for sleeping or as refuge in cases of inclement weather. When a dwelling reached the end of its practical life it was simply burned, and a replacement erected in its place in about a day's time. Below is a description of Chiricahua
Chiricahua
wickiups recorded by anthropologist Morris Opler:

The home in which the family lives is made by the men and is ordinarily a circular, dome-shaped brush dwelling, with the floor at ground level. It is eight feet high at the center and approximately seven feet in diameter. To build it, long fresh poles of oak or willow are driven into the ground or placed in holes made with a digging stick. These poles, which form the framework, are arranged at one-foot intervals and are bound together at the top with yucca-leaf strands. Over them a thatching of bundles of big bluestem grass or bear grass is tied, shingle style, with yucca strings. A smoke hole opens above a central fireplace. A hide, suspended at the entrance, is fixed on a cross-beam so that it may be swung forward or backward. The doorway may face in any direction. For waterproofing, pieces of hide are thrown over the outer hatching, and in rainy weather, if a fire is not needed, even the smoke hole is covered. In warm, dry weather much of the outer roofing HI is stripped off. It takes approximately three days to erect a sturdy dwelling of this type. These houses are "warm and comfortable even though there is a big snow." The interior is lined with brush and grass beds over which robes are spread.... [2]

The woman not only makes the furnishings of the home but is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and repair of the dwelling itself and for the arrangement of everything in it. She provides the grass and brush beds and replaces them when they become too old and dry.... However, formerly "they had no permanent homes, so they didn't bother with cleaning." The dome-shaped dwelling or wickiup, the usual home type for all the Chiricahua
Chiricahua
bands, has already been described.... Said a Central Chiricahua
Chiricahua
informant:

Both the teepee and the oval-shaped house were used when I was a boy. The oval hut was covered with hide and was the best house. The more well-to-do had this kind. The teepee type was just made of brush. It had a place for a fire in the center. It was just thrown together. Both types were common even before my time....

A house form that departed from the more common dome-shaped variety is recorded for the Southern Chiricahua
Chiricahua
as well:

When we settled down, we used the wickiup; when we were moving around a great deal, we used this other kind...[3]

Illustration of an Acjachemen
Acjachemen
wickiup, California

Frame of Apache
Apache
wickiup

Chiricahua
Chiricahua
medicine man and family in wickiup

Ute wickiup

frame of Crow sweat lodge in snow

"Wigwam" in different Algonquian languages[edit] The English word wigwam derives from Eastern Abenaki wigwom, from Proto-Algonquian *wi·kiwa·ʔmi.[4][5] Other Algonquian languages have similar names for the structure:

wigwôm in Abenaki wiigiwaam in the Anishinaabe language

wiigiwaam with vowel syncope in Eastern Ojibwe
Ojibwe
and in Odaawaa vary as wiigwaam (written as wigwam in Potawatomi WNLAP spelling) wiigiwaam in the Algonquin language
Algonquin language
can vary as miigiwaam (with the indefinite prefix m- instead of the definite third-person prefix w-)

ookóówa in the Blackfoot language
Blackfoot language
(without the possessive theme suffix -m) mâhëö'o in the Cheyenne language
Cheyenne language
(with the indefinite prefix m- instead of the definite third-person prefix w- and without the possessive theme suffix -m) wiikiaami in the Miami-Illinois language wikuom in the Mi'kmaq language ȣichiȣam in the Nipmuc language wikëwam in Unami

wickiup:

wiikiyaapi in Fox mekewāp in Cree (with the indefinite prefix m- instead of the definite third-person prefix w-) mīciwāhp in Montagnais (with the indefinite prefix m- instead of the definite third-person prefix w-) wikiop in Menominee wekeab in Saki

Use of similar dwellings elsewhere today[edit]

Somali Aqal lodge

Near identical constructions, called aqal, are used by today's nomadic Somali People
Somali People
as well as the Afar people
Afar people
on the Horn of Africa. Pieces of old clothing or plastic sheet, woven mats (traditionally made of grass), or whatever material is available will be used to cover the aqal's roof. Similar domed tents are also used by the Bushmen
Bushmen
and Nama people and other indigenous peoples in Southern Africa. In Britain, similar structures known as bender tents are built quickly and cheaply by New Age travellers, using poles from the woods (often hazel) and plastic tarpaulins. Yaranga
Yaranga
has similar shape, but have internal yoronga-room inside the dome. See also[edit]

Bender tent Sweat lodge—a ceremonial sauna that is often built in the wigwam style Tipi—another type of Native American dwelling Hogan
Hogan
(hooghan in Navajo)—a dwelling that uses earth in its construction Quiggly hole
Quiggly hole
or kekuli or Kickwillie hole—a type of pit-house common in the Northwest Plateau of North America

Indigenous peoples of North America portal Home portal

References[edit]

^ For a complete description, see "We are now ... properly ... enwigwamed." British Soldiers and Brush Huts, 1776–1781, John U. Rees, 2003 (originally published in the Military Collector & Historian, volume 55, number 2 (Summer 2003), 89-96. ^ Opler: 22–23 ^ Opler: 385386 ^ "wigwam". Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster
Dictionary.  ^ "wigwam". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. 

Bibliography[edit]

Opler, Morris E. (1941). An Apache
Apache
life-way: The economic, social, and religious institutions of the Chiricahua
Chiricahua
Indians. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Reprinted in 1962, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1965, New York: Cooper Square Publishers; 1965, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; & 1994, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-8610-4).

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wigwam
Wigwam
or Wickiup.

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wigwam". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 629.  Chiricahua
Chiricahua
wickiup (picture) making of a wickiup (including pictures) drawing of a wickiup How to build a wigwam Wigwam
Wigwam
construction

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