Thursday, October 29, 2009

ARTS AND CRAFTS with, Josh Tate

In this special vacation installment of "Arts and Crafts" I'm going to teach you how to build a wigwam. The first thing you'll need are some woods with slender saplings. The saplings need to be tall but slender, about 14-16 feet tall and about the diameter of a fat thumb.


Once you have gathered approximately 16 saplings, it is time to select the site to construct your wigwam. Any flat spot will do, but locations that are sheltered from the wind but still get plenty of sun are especially good. Here we have oriented our wigwam with the door facing east. I don't know much about such things, but I read somewhere that the door to an Indian's Wigwam typically opened towards the east.
To begin construction of your wigwam drive a stick into the approximate center of the Wigwam's diameter. Then tie a length of string to the stick. By using the center stick as anchor use the length of string to mark a perfect cricle as the base of the wigwam. Then dig holes approximately one foot deep on opposite sides of the wigwam to place the lodge poles into. It is important that the holes and their attendant poles mirror one another as the next step requires that you lash the poles together by bending them toward one another until they form an arch. Using twine tie them tightly together. Once all of the arches have been formed, lash them tightly together so that they form the skeleton of a dome.
While you lash some cross braces onto the dome send some of the rest of the tribe (Photographed here are Bowden and His cousins, Elisabeth, Grace and Lucy Joy) into the woods to gather some birch bark for the Wigwam's covering. You're gonna need a lot of bark so get crackin'!!!


Indians stripped the birch bark they used for their wigwams in large sheets from living trees. I found all the bark I needed from trees that had already fallen down. It was pretty crummy stuff, but then again we weren't actually depending on the wigwam for shelter through the long winter. Thanks to Steve Maxon and my Brother Job for helping me gather most of this bark after church on the last Sunday we were in VT. There was great stand of dead birch trees in North Chittenden, VT. There is still enough there for a couple more such wigwams if you're in the nieghborhood, and need a place to stay this winter.

Poke holes into the birch and tie it securely to the cross braces. Use the same principle as though you were shingling a roof. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the top. Leave a hole in the top for smoke to escape. (Having a fire in a birch bark structure strikes me as a scary deal. There must have been a lot of wigwam fires back in the day.)
When the wigwam is complete, gather a pile of leaves or fir boughs for the floor then kick back and survey your forest kingdom. Truly these two, Ishkoodah and Wah-Wah-Taysee, are masters of the northern woods. Indians would have also lashed more saplings to the outside of the wigwam to hold the bark down, but I just plum ran out of time and energy on the project. I suspect though that in the spring my folks will come back out to the lake to find birch bark everywhere and tumble down pile of played out sticks where my proud wigwam once stood.







Little indians need bows to hunt. Here's how to make one using the same sort of sapling we used in the construction of the Wigwam. Cut a green sapling of nearly uniform width and about the same length as your wing-span. This will be your bow.

Cut a notch like so at both ends of the bow.
Then cut a length of tough twine approximately two-thirds the length of the bow. Tie a loop at either end of the string. Then, placing one loop into a notch, bend the sapling until you can fit the second loop into the second notch. If you really want to be fancy you can tie some feathers and beads to the top of the bow for decoration. Don't make the arrows for them as you don't want to do all the work for them, thus stifling their fecundity, and really any straightish stick on the forest floor will do.

4 comments:

Rocket Surgeon, Phd said...

Absolutely outstanding. I am speechless.

Sherry said...

You look like a true archer.

alexae said...

You're such a cool Dad!

BeckyLove said...

Hurray for good pictures and awesome family time!