All School Meeting Share: Building a Wigwam
Written and Presented by 4th and 5th Graders, October 2, 2015
Many years ago, the people who lived on this land built wigwams out of saplings and covered them with bark, hides and cattails.
We started building a wigwam in our playground. We calculated how large the diameter would be and how tall we could make it. We then took the poplar saplings our teachers had collected, and measured their heights. The longest was 15 feet but many of them were 11 feet. We had to figure out how to make a perfect circle on a flat area of ground. We did this by taking a measuring tape and holding one end in the same spot and marking the other end in a circle.
To build the structure, we hammered 12 equally spaced saplings into the ground. We then bent them and tied them together with twine. We had to complete the structure quickly so that the saplings didn’t dry out and snap. We also used thin strips of wood to create a basket weave along some of the joints.
We then wrapped hoops of saplings around the sides of the structure, creating three rings to strengthen it. One area is open for the doorway. We are now figuring out the square footage of the wigwam, measuring the heights between the hoops, and finding the circumference of each hoop. We will cover our wigwam with birch bark we find in the forest. This project will be ongoing and is just the start to our Native American investigations.