Replicated Algonkian Village

Replicated Algonkian Village

The Algonkian peoples - composed of over one hundred distinct groups and communities, sharing a common language family and similar lifeways - have traditionally inhabited much of the eastern United States and Canada. The Algonkian peoples are sometimes referred to by the spelling variation Algonquin, which is derived from the Algonquian of early French written accounts. There is also a single tribal nation named Algonquin/Algonkin from southern Quebec and Ontario. The replicated village at IAIS includes a Sachem's House, bark-covered wigwams, a reed-covered wigwam, a Three Sisters garden and a dugout canoe.

Sachem's House
For the Algonkian peoples, the long house was the home of the leader (chief, sachem, sagamore) and his family. In the democratic Algonkian culture, this large space was needed for people to meet together to discuss important issues such as war or relocation. This structure was also used for entertaining guests from other villages. The largest "longhouses" used in Connecticut were approximately 30 feet long, as compared to the Iroquois longhouses of Western New York, which were often 150 feet long.

Sachem's House Sachem's House Sachem's House

Wigwams were a traditional dwelling for individual families living in Woodland villages. The sturdy wigwam interior frame was constructed of saplings buried 12 to 18 inches into the ground and tied together with basswood bark. Large pieces of elm or tulip tree bark were then applied to the frame and secured with an exterior framework. Wigwams had a central fire for heat, cooking and light. Mats woven from reeds or cornhusks were often placed on the floor and walls creating a comfortable and insulated living environment. A smoke hole at the top of the wigwam provided ventilation. In an average Algonkian village, there would be around 10 to 15 wigwams with an equal number of families.

Wigwam Wigwam Wigwam

Three Sisters Garden
Horticulture became an integral part of many Algonkian communities between 1000 and 1500 AD. The three primary crops - corn, beans and squash - were known as the "Three Sisters" because of their ability to help each other grow. They were planted together in small hills rather than in European-style rows. Bean vines used the corn stalks as beanpoles, while helping to return nitrogen to the soil, an essential nutrient for healthy corn growth. Various forms of squash were planted between the hills, their large leaves keeping the soil shaded. The shaded soil remained moist and less troubled by weeds. Thousands of hills of plants would be required to sustain a small village. The raised platform in the garden was a place for young boys to guard the crops against hungry crows and chipmunks. Small stones could be thrown to chase away animals.

Three Sisters Garden Three Sisters Garden Three Sisters Garden