Slike strani



The habitations of the New England Indians were of three general types the round house, the long house, and the conical house. The first two forms occurred throughout this area. The conical house seems to have been more common in Maine than in other sections of New England, where if used at all it was probably employed as a temporary shelter only.

[ocr errors]


The outline of the round house (fig. 10, c, d) closely approached that of a hemisphere. The ground-plan was circular,' with an approximate diameter of from ten to sixteen feet.2 The probable height of these lodges over the central fireplace was from six to eight feet. They were occupied by one or two families. According to Williams "two families will live comfortably and lovingly in a little round house of some fourteen or sixteen foot over."

The framework consisted of small poles set in the ground two or three feet apart, enclosing the circular floor space. Several arches were made of "halfe circles of timber," 3 each formed by bending and lashing two opposite poles together. The remaining poles were bent over and joined to these arches, and horizontal poles were added, the whole being firmly bound together. Morton's description is as follows:

"They gather Poles in the woodes and put the great end of them in the ground, placinge them in forme of a circle or circumference and, bendinge the topps of them in form of an Arch they bind them together

1 Verrazano in Hakluyt, Divers Voyages, Hakluyt Society's repr., p. 68. Champlain, Voyages (Prince Society), vol. 11, pp. 83, 124.

2 Verrazano, ibid. Roger Williams, Key into the Language of America, Rhode Island Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. 1, p. 48.

3 Verrazano, ibid.

with the Barke of Walnut trees which is wondrous tuffe so that they make the same round on the Topp."

The men usually prepared the poles and made the framework, over which the women fastened the mats and other coverings.

There were usually two entrances to wigwams of this type, one at the north, the other at the south. These were about three feet in height," and according as the wind sets, they close up one door with bark and hang a deer's skin or the like before the other." 2

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



[blocks in formation]


FIG. IO. - Habitations and gardens, coast of Massachusetts. a, House and garden at Chatham. b, c, At Nauset Harbor. d, At Gloucester. (After Champlain, 1605-06.)

An opening in the roof about eighteen inches square allowed the smoke to escape. In windy weather, if the smoke became troublesome, this aperture was screened with a small mat placed upon the top of the lodge and arranged with a cord so as to be turned to the windward side.3 That houses of this type were also common in central and eastern Maine seems evident from the remark of John Gyles, who was captured at Pemaquid in 1689, and lived with the Indians for seven or eight years in the region of the Penobscot and St John rivers. Describing the houses of the beaver, he says "they are round in the figure of an Indian wigwam."


In the second group are included those lodges having an oblong, rectangular ground-plan (fig. 11, a, b) and an outline resembling that of a semi-cylinder. The medium and smaller sizes were generally used as communal dwellings. The larger ones, called qunnekamuck, seem to have been built principally for ceremonial purposes and were "sometimes a hundred, sometimes two

1 Morton, New English Canaan (Prince Society), p. 134.

2 John Josselyn, Two Voyages to New England, Veazie repr., p. 99.

3 Gookin, Historical Collections, Mass. Hist. Coll., Ist s., repr. 1859, vol. I, p. 150. 'John Gyles' Captivity, in S. G. Drake's Tragedies of the Wilderness, p. 94.

hundred feet long," and thirty feet broad.2 ," and thirty feet broad. Usually, however, the council or ceremonial house was much smaller.

The framework was made by setting poles in two parallel rows enclosing the floor space. Opposite poles were bent over and joined to each other in pairs, forming a series of arches of equal height, which were joined together by horizontal poles placed at


[ocr errors]


FIG. II. - Habitations, gardens, and fort at Saco river, Maine. a, c, "Cabins in the open fields near which they cultivate the land and plant Indian corn.” b, "Another place where they have their dwellings all together after they have planted their corn." d, "Place where they have their fortress." (After Champlain, 1605.)

intervals, forming an arbor-like framework. The poles for the ends of the framework were set either in a straight line and joined to the end arches in a perpendicular position, giving the form to the finished hut shown in figures 10, a, b, and 11, a, b, or were arranged in a segment of a circle bent over and joined to the main framework, thereby giving a more rounded appearance to the ends of the huts. The dwelling houses of this type had usually "two, three or four fires, at a distance one from another for the better accommodation of the people belonging to it."3 Houses with two fires were called neés quttow, those with three fires shwishcuttow. These wigwams had, according to their size, two or more entrances, which were covered with a deer-skin or with a mat which could be rolled up. According to Wood: "Their houses are smaller in the Summer when their families are dispersed, by reason of heate and occasions. In Winter they make some fiftie or three score foote long, fortie or fiftie men being inmates under one roof." There is evidence, however, that long houses were sometimes occupied as summer dwellings, and while the winter wigwams were more commonly of the

1 Williams, op. cit., p. 146.

2 Gookin, op. cit.

3 Ibid.

Williams, op. cit., p. 47.

5 Wood, New England's Prospect, Boynton repr., p. 99.

long type, especially in the southern half of New England, smaller cabins were also used for winter habitations.

Verrazano, describing the New England habitations in 1524,


"We sawe their houses made in circuler or rounde fourm 10 or 12 foote in compasse. . . They moove the foresaide houses from one place to another according to the commoditie of the place and season, wherein they will make their aboade and only taking of the cover, they have other houses builded incontinent. The father and whole familie dwell together in one house in great number: in some of them we saw 25 or 30 persons.


The long house was used as a dwelling or for council or ceremonial purposes throughout New England. It seems to have been used for the former purpose as far east as the Saco river, Maine, and probably in other sections of the state. The great wigwam was employed for council purposes on the Kennebec river. The one on the Penobscot was twenty feet wide by forty feet long,' and Gyles saw one thirty or forty feet in length on the St John river in New Brunswick.


The conical wigwam (fig. 11, b, c) seems not to have been in very general use; it is the traditional lodge of the modern Penobscot Indians, who have no knowledge of other aboriginal forms. The framework was made of straight poles with their lower ends set into the ground enclosing the circular floor space, their upper ends being brought together and fastened. This frame resembled that of the skin tipi of the Plains tribes, and was covered with bark mats or pieces of bark which were sometimes held in place by a second series of poles placed over them. Father Rasles, in a letter written at the Indian village of Nanrantsouak (Norridgewock) on the Kennebec in 1723, describes the type as follows:

"Their cabins are easily built. They plant poles in the earth, which they join at the top, and then cover them with large pieces of bark. The fire they make in the middle of the cabin and all around it. . they sit during the day and sleep at night."

1 Verrazano, op. cit., p. 68

2 Maine Hist. Soc. Coll., 1876, vol. vII, p. 14


Kip, Early Jesuit Missions in North America, p. 24.

[ocr errors]

The cabins thus described were not temporary shelters, but formed a permanent village which was surrounded by palisades.

Both the round and the conical wigwams stand side by side in the modern camps of the Cree and Ojibwa, and it is not improbable that they were thus used over a considerable portion of Maine.


Mourt in his Relation1 thus describes the cabin of a chief in eastern Massachusetts:

"A mile from hence, Nanepashemet their King in his lifetime had lived, His house was not like others, but a scaffold was largely built, with pools and plancks, some six foote from the ground, and the house upon that, being situated on the top of a hill."

Dwellings upon raised platforms were unusual. According to Williams it was the custom to erect "little watch-houses in the middle of their fields in which they or their biggest children lodge, and early in the morning prevent the birds" from injuring the corn. He gives no description of these structures. They were, however, probably like the watch-houses of the southern Algonquians built for the same purpose. A picture of one of these in the village of Secota, by John White,2 shows a raised platform on which is built a small cabin or shelter open at one side. This is referred to in the text as follows:

"In their corn fields they built, as it were, a scaffold on which they set a cottage . . . where they place one to watch, for there are such a number of fowls and beasts.'


This dwelling of Nanepashemet's seems to have been patterned after a watch-house. Such a cabin would be more comfortable in summer than the ordinary form, being cooler and more free from fleas and other vermin.

Little hunting houses of bark and rushes, "not comparable to their dwelling houses," 3 were built by hunters for temporary occupancy while on their fall hunts.

In common with most American tribes the New England In

1 Mourt's Relation, Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Cheever's repr., p. 90.

2 Hariot, Brief and True Report of Virginia, pl. xx.

3 Williams, op. cit., p. 141.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »