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Potawatomi houses,
lodges and shelters
Traditional Potawatomi bands had two kinds of houses:
the wigwam and the longhouse.

In the past, there were two types of dwellings used by the Potawatomi bands: dome-shaped wigwams, and rectangular lodges with bark covering called longhouses. Longhouse construction dates back at least 1100 years. They were used for meeting places and ceremonies, and as multi-family structures with sleeping platforms above the living area below.

Potawatomi villages usually also included a sweat lodge, meat-drying huts, and a ballfield.

The Indian Service has now built frame houses for most of the Potowatomi people, but some Forest Potawatomi still live in their wigwams, which they make from poles and cat-tail mats, covered by birch bark rolls. A wigwam is a domed shaped structure with a central firepit.

potawatomi wigwam
A Potawatomi family wigwam showing bark sheets on the bottom and cattail mats covering the top.
This is the usual residence of the summer time and may be used by poorer members of the tribe in the winter as well. It is possible to make them quite warm and cozy for winter use.

Forest Potawatomi still weave rush mats, cat-tail mats, and splint baskets to furnish their wigwams, and to sell to the tourist trade. Wigwams are single dwelling structures built for one individual family with a central firepit for heat and cooking.

All of the younger members of the Forest County Potawatomi tribe are compelled to go to school, although they have no reservation school for the Potawatomi Indians in Forest County. They are farmed out to neighboring Indian schools at the Lac du Flambeau Reservation, and even farther away. These are boarding schools where the children stay for nine months of the year.

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