Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Make a Wigwam

By Scott Fisher


• Step 1

– Select a level site
– Clear ground of any rocks/plants
– Draw a circle on the ground by driving in a stake in the center and tying a string to it that is 7’ long and then tie the other end to a stick and drag that stick around to make a 14’ diameter circle

• Step 2

– Find 16 points around the circle
• 2πR
• _____x12(inches/feet)• # of poles
• So for a 16 pole wigwam with a 7’ radius
• 2 x 3.14 x 7
• _____x12=32.98 inches between poles around the circle
• 16 poles
– Make 16 holes by using a small stick or drill that are 6”-12” deep

• Step 3

– Gather 25-30 fresh saplings that 12-15 feet long and no bigger than 2” in diameter
– Strip off any branches/bark for longer lifespan
– Cut points so that saplings go into holes easier


• Step 4


– Place the first set of poles numbered 1-8
– Bend them over 2 at a time
– Bend 1 to meet 2 and 3 to meet 4…

• Step 5


– Lash ends of each set of 2 poles at about 3” from the ends
– Traditional lashing is done with inner bark of the tree but heavy jute or sisal twine
– Place poles 9-16 in holes


• Step 6


– Bend poles over: 9 to meet 10 and 11 to meet 12…
– Lash overlaps everyplace they overlap


• Step 7


– Use remaining saplings to make loops around wigwam at 3-4 different levels
– Lash these poles to existing poles
– Bottom 2 loops should not go all the way around…must leave an opening for entrance


• Step 8 (Optional Step)


– Place a hearth in center of wigwam about 3’ in diameter for heating and cooking
– Sleeping platforms are mounted on walls on one side and use “Y” sticks to hold up other side of platform
– Lash together platform to wigwam


• Step 9


– Bark sheets or cattail mats are uses to cover the exterior
• Bark sheets are used in the winter and cattail sheets are used in the summer time
– Start at the bottom and shingle 3 layers of material to top
– Lash material to structure
• Leave opening for entrance and smoke hole on the top


• Step 10 (Optional Step)


– Bend 4 more poles over exterior covering to hold bark or other materials on
– Cover new poles in canvas
– Birch or elm bark can be used to temporarily cover smoke hole


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