Kohl on wigwam construction
Originally published in 1860.
The first thing in building a wigwam is preparing the carcase and felling the young trees required for that purpose in the adjoining wood. This is the business of the women, like all the work, heavy or light, always with the exception of hunting. My Indian woman [interpreter] went into the wood with an axe, felled the trees, and dragged them out. Her old mother and young sister and her daughters helped her in the job...[they] thrust them [the young trees] into the ground at equal distances, so as to form a quadrangle. On this occasion they employed birch-trees, though they prefer the tamarack or larch for building. The quadrangle is a parallelogram, the longest side running from the entrance to the back of the hut; two trees were planted in front, where the door was to be, a little beyond the line of the quadrangle, and the same behind, where the seat of honour is raised. When the tall trees are fixed in the ground, and stand perpendicular, like the basket-maker's framework, the side branches are bent down and fastened together two and two, when their ends are twisted round each other and secured with bast. For this purpose the extremely tough bast of the Canadian cedar-tree is used. Thus a species of arbour is formed. The two trees before and behind are somewhat longer, and are bent down and fastened together over the arbour in a similar fashion. Thus the carcase is completed; but to give it greater firmness, and allow the covering to be put on, crossbars are added. These are also young trees or branches, laid horizontally along the trellis-work, and firmly tied at all the points of intersection. The whole then resembles a widely interlaced basket of a semi-oval form.
Johann Georg Kohl, Kitchi-Gami: Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985), 3-5.