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WIGWAM, also known as a "wickiup," was a New England Algonquian word meaning "dwelling." The domeshaped or oblong structures were made of bent poles covered with bark—especially birch bark. In some cases the winter covering was of mats or thatch. Because the structures were very simple, they could be easily disassembled and moved.

The English applied the term to all Iroquois and Algonquian dwellings from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and north of Carolina and Tennessee into Canada. Later, the term was applied to structures more correctly designated tepees.


Yue, Charlotte. The Wigwam and the Longhouse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

ClarkWissler/j. h.

See alsoArchaeology and Prehistory of North America ; Architecture ; Housing ; Indian Technology .

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wig·wam / ˈwigˌwäm/ • n. a dome-shaped hut or tent made by fastening mats, skins, or bark over a framework of poles, used by some North American Indian peoples. ORIGIN: early 17th cent.: from Abnaki, ‘their house,’ from an Algonquian base meaning ‘dwell,’ shared with wickiup.

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wigwam. Type of tent consisting of a frame of poles converging at the top, covered with bark, matting, or, more usually, hides, to form a cone-shaped shelter. The term is of North American native origin, in the area of the Great Lakes and eastwards: it is called a tepee in other areas.

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wigwam Shelter used by Native North Americans of the Eastern Woodlands culture. Wigwams were made from bark, reed mats or thatch, spread over a pole frame. They should not be confused with the conical, skin-covered tepees of the Native Americans of the Plains.

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wigwam N. Amer. Indian cabin, tent, or hut. XVII. of Algonquian orig.