1850 Indian Lodge-Making

Lake Superior Journal 9-25-1850

We have frequently noticed in the Indian country the facility with which Indians built their bark lodges. Chancing, yesterday, to pass a place of encampment, we had a good opportunity of watching the whole process of building. As soon as a canoe landed the man, woman and children commenced unlading and carrying their "traps" to the place of encampment, the squaws having the privilege, as form time immemorial among them, of lugging all the heavy and burdensome articles.

The barks for the lodge consisting of spout a dozen pieces, of as many feet in length, and some four feet wide, rolled up like maps, were all taken by a squaw at one back load to the place selected. A dozen small poles, 10 or 15 feet in length, were taken from the bottom of the canoe and were planted in the ground in a circle of about 15 feet in diameter. The tops of those opposite were then bent over and tied with strings of bark, and over these light ribs were spread the sheets of birch bark and mats, with the exception of a small opening at the top for the escape of smokeā€”and the whole lodge was completed, being a perfect half sphere in shape.

Thus in the short space of half an hour from the time of landing, this aboriginal domicile was finished and its lazy proprietor was lounging and smoking on his mat, while his industrious help-mate was bestirring herself with the usual preparations for fire and cooking.