Nestled under the trees on the lawn of the visitors center of The Wild Gardens of Acadia sits this beautifully crafted Indian hut. This authentic birchbark WigWam was built by former Penobscot Nation Chief and master birchbark artist Barry Dana and a group of children from the Penobscot Nation Boy and Girls Club.
The birchbark wigwam was central to Maine Indian life, providing shelter and structure. Bark from the paper birch tree was the fabric of life in the region, offering materials to make everything from containers, to rain gear, to canoes. Maine Wabanaki material culture traditions have been passed down from generation to generation through hands-on learning and working with others, perfecting each step in the process until they can complete each one successfully. (Source: http://umaine.edu/news/blog/2010/07/28/penobscot-birchbark-artist-to-build-wigwam-at-the-hudson-museum/)
In the center of the wigwam structure is a ventilated hood so that smoke from small fires could escape.
While standing inside the wigwam, thoughts of the lives of the Penobscot Indian tribe in Maine caused the realization of how tough these Indians must have been. While their homes were quite charming, and used resources readily available to them, they provided little shelter from the harsh elements. In particular the deep snows and freezes Maine is so well known for.
The amount of detail that went into building this wigwam is truly fascinating. The knowledge of how to be able to bend the bark so that it doesn’t break while during construction, and the ability to literally sew the wigwam together is truly an art. This wigwam was built in 2011 with the University of Maine fully documenting the building process for future generations.