A Beothuk Wigwam

A Beothuk Wigwam.
This is a possible reconstruction, based on archaeological evidence, of how a Beothuk wigwam might have been constructed. The builders would have first excavated a shallow depression in the ground and then placed vertical, forked posts around the edge of the depression. Horizontal poles ("stringers") would then have been tied to the tops of these posts. Perhaps to keep the dirt from the walls from drifting into the interior of the dwelling, the builders might have tied sheets of birch bark to the posts and stringers. The previously-excavated dirt would then have been piled on the outside of the bark barrier. To form the roof, rafters made of poles were then tied to the stringers and sheets of birchbark placed on them. Finally, other poles would be laid on top of the bark sheets to keep them in place. Inside the wigwam, a shallow pit in the centre was dug for a fire and very shallow sleeping hollows were excavated around the hearth. These hollows were likely lined with fir boughs for insulation.

Reproduced by permission of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation - Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Artwork by David Preston Smith.

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