Class Descriptions

Indigenous Architecture of the Northern Great Lakes - Symposium


Join us for a unique symposium exploring historic Native American architectural traditions of the northern Great Lakes. Help set up a nsweogen (traditional Ojibwe birch bark house) and join experts for discussions on seasonal house forms, construction materials, air flow, storage, portability, and terminology. Presented by a variety of instructors - who all combined have built and used dozens of traditional native structures.

Setting Up a Wilderness Camp - Ben Piersma


Ben is an expert at the tools and techniques of wilderness camping, and in this workshop you will work with him to set up a basic wilderness camp with accommodations like a raised bough bed, tarp tent shelter, and crane system for hanging pots and cooking. Nuances like camp site selection, fire maintenance, and other often neglected but important considerations will also be covered.

Birch Bark Wigwam Rolls - Jijak Foundation and Gun Lake Tribe Staff


Join staff members from the Jijak Foundation and Gun Lake Pottawatomi Tribe to craft traditional birch bark roof panels used for covering wigwams. Wigwassi pekwewen are large flexible birch bark panels sewn together with spruce roots to form the overlapping “shingles” for covering a variety of traditional native homes and structures in the Great Lakes Region. These lightweight and waterproof panels are ingeniously designed to be rolled into tubes that are used for protecting and securing gear and belongings when traveling between seasonal villages and harvesting camps. This in depth, hands-on workshop will focus on interweaving Pottawatomi language, terminology, and oral history with the complete process of preparing and assembling the birch bark, spruce roots, and white cedar splits. If you plan to build roofing rolls, we also recommend forging a bark awl with Tim Carr - might as well use your own...