I have built, at this point in life, hundreds of these shelters, both impromptu and historical restoration replica. I specialize in indigenous folk architecture of the Americas, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. I make my living as a timber wright and wilderness education specialist, (i.e. adventure sport-indigenous life skills.) The structures you are asking about come in many different permutations, and can have a life span of centuries, depending on the design. More often than not, I here folks comment on how "timber framing was brought here to the wilderness of North America by European settlers." One it was not a wilderness, it was our home and two, we had been building timber frames (more in the Asian style than European,) of differing forms for thousands of years. What do you want to build? What will be it's purpose?
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
posted 7 years ago
I would like to build an Algonquin style wigwam, using local materials. I live in Canada and I would like to experience building a structure that is native to my area. It would be along term structure possibly on a piece of wilderness property.
Is there a good resource on these kind of structures? I have heard about wigwams that have an insulation layer and others that are purely bark.
Have you heard about the style of structure that has a continuous spiraling horizontal frame pattern? (I have seen this design at the Tracker School)
I am also interested in other native dwellings that use materials in my area (Easter Woodlands up to the Eastern Canadian Shield)
Jay C. White Cloud
posted 7 years ago
There are several academic books on indigenous architecture but the web is your best bet for DYI project and of course finding a Elder that will show you how. As for the "Tracker School," and what it teaches, I cannot endorse there school or practices. Native cultural life skills are different than what is being taught there in many ways, and there blatant commercialization of Native teachings is a bastardization of the oral traditions of our culture, which should only be given freely. If Tom Brown was actually taught by an elder, he would never dream of charging money for that knowledge. I sometimes make a living teaching wilderness adventure activities or primitive life skills, but never in the context of traditional teachings.
You can build a double wall structure and capture incredible thermal qualities, yes that is true. First you must share with me how big a structure you would like to build and what types of trees do you have available to you? Will you be making your own lashing or using a store bought natural rope? (either is fine.)
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