Kispoko Village TourBy Justin Houston
Welcome to Kispoko Village. Our village represents the structures lived in by all the Eastern Woodland cultures visited by Tecumseh. An arched entrance symbolizes the open arms and hearts of the people here in the village. At the peak of its center, you see an intertribal medicine wheel, which is a symbol for the coming together of the 4 races of humanity. The Grand Entrance was completed in 2017.
The domed wigwam is a typical winter hunting camp in the eastern woodlands. This dwelling is the origin of all Native structures. We are taught through oral tradition that the wigwam is the embodiment of the mother earth. The domed structure is her great pregnant belly. The fire pit is her burning heart. The smoke hole is her mouth where her prayers go up to the Creator and the door, which always faces towards East, represents daily rebirth.
How the frame is made designates the structure’s purpose. This domed wigwam has a frame made by interlocking bent young maple trees to a central point. If it was framed in willow, it would be solely for ceremonial use. This version is covered by cottonwood veneer to simulate bark. This structure was remodeled by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions in 2017.
This great house is representing the cultures of the Northeastern forests. Lacking birch bark, these houses were covered with elm bark. Some long houses were 20 feet wide and up to 400 feet long. Ties by blood and marriage on the female side bound long house residents. Children were born into the mother’s clan. Each long house had a clan totem, typically carved into interior posts.
This long house serves the village as a Council house and a dormitory building. It is constructed by bending trees into arches. The frame is then covered by cottonwood veneer with a second layer of real ash bark from the dead ash trees in the park. We will eventually have the entire dwelling covered by real ash bark. This structure was begun in 2014 by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions and many volunteers.
Birch Bark Conical Wigwam
NOT a Tepee, This is a Conical Wigwam.
A typical hunting camp of many sub-arctic cultures. When travelling, the wood frame of the conical wigwam would be left in place and only rolls of birch bark would be transported in canoes. Bark would be stripped from the paper birch tree in spring and would be folded, rolled, or even sewn into a variety of useful products such as canoes, baskets, and roofing. This replica conical wigwam is constructed out of cottonwood veneer and many fallen ash trees from the park. The wigwam has extra protective poles on the outside, a commonly used technique when the cover is of several pieces of material. The structure is heated and fumigated by a central open fire pit. Many modern day arctic peoples still use these structures as hunting camps. This structure was remodeled in 2016 by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions.
Despite popular belief, American Indians did build log cabins. The Cherokee are known as log cabin dwellers. The difference between the European cabin and the Native cabin is the way the logs are joined. The Swimmer Cabin (built by a famous Cherokee cabin dweller in 1888) had logs joined by the saddle back method. In pre-history, logs were joined by sandwiching logs between vertically erected posts.
Ranger Bud Jividen, retired, was instrumental in the reconstruction and relocation of this cabin. It was originally located near the New Boston Cemetery. Due to vandals, the prospective village site near New Boston Cemetery was not further developed. Ranger Bud chose in 2012 to relocate any attempts to build a native village to the interior of George Rogers Clark Park. This cabin was the first permanent structure at the new site. Most of the materials for this cabin were donated for its construction. The bark for the roof is from ash trees in the park. The roof was replaced by Amy Henry in 2013. Remodeling of the roof and chinking were done in 2016 by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions.
This thatched house is our representation of the Southeastern part of the woodlands. These houses were found in large agricultural villages where permanent houses of wattle and daub or lath and daub with a thatched roof of grass or bark were common. This house was made from materials all harvested from the park. The frame is completely constructed from Ash trees. The thatched roof is made from long-stem grass harvested from the prairie areas in the Park.
This structure was constructed by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions in 2016. Roof thatching and wall daubing are ongoing.
This structure is centrally located and will house Native American cooking demonstrations during The Fair at New Boston.
This lean-to is a temporary fishing camp but it’s not limited to that. Lean-tos have been used by all people through time as a multiple-use structure. It has been used for everything from trapper camps to livestock barns. Here in the village, we use this lean-to as a summer kitchen and as a dwelling.
The frame is constructed from ash. The cover is made from Cottonwood veneer. It was constructed by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions in 2017.
Medicine Turtle Tree
This Medicine Turtle Tree was carved as a continual prayer for the trees in the Park. The turtle is the symbol for Turtle Island, the Earth. The crossed logs symbolizes the sun on the earth and the sacred fire from the creator. Every sunrise activates the prayer for as long as it lasts. This prayer began in 2016.
The Corn Crib is a food storage unit. Most Native cultures grew the 3 sisters: corn, beans, and squash. Once harvested, the produce would be dried and stored in pits in the ground for long-term storage. Food for immediate use would be stored in raised Corn Cribs, out of the reach of bears.
The Corn Crib is made out of a hollow log donated by SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park. The roof is made of shake shingles, donated by Miami Valley Steam Thresher’s Association. The Corn Crib platform is made of Ash trees from the Park. This crib was completed in 2012 by Justin Houston’s Museum Quality Reproductions.
The stockade’s purpose is to act as a first alert system. Most permanent villages in the woodlands had some type of stockade or perimeter fence. Hungry bears, stampeding buffalo herds, and angry neighbors were just a few of the dangers that could overwhelm a village. A crashing sound might be the only warning one gets to react to a life and death situation.
Our stockade is made from posts of ash trees and horizontal weavings of honeysuckle from the Park. Work was begun by volunteers in 2016. Stockade building and maintenance is ongoing.
How would you like to immerse yourself in village life? Please help us to maintain the stockade by weaving a honeysuckle bough or two! Brush piles can be found close to the vertically erected posts that are ready for weaving. Before weaving, look at the structure and notice how each bough is woven horizontally between the posts. Be careful and have fun!