Wigwam, according to a painting by Paul Kane 1846.

A group of young Anishinabe learning the construction technique of a wigwam at the Tribal Council Culture Camp in October 2014


The main feature of a traditional Anishinabeg home was that it consisted of material readily available in the immediate environment and could be dismantled quickly.

A pikogan or a wigwam was constructed of poles covered with bark or animal skins depending on the season. There was an opening at the top to allow air circulation and the release of fire smoke. The floor was covered with fir branches, which were then covered with fur or straw. Members of the family used their shelter only when it was very cold and to sleep, otherwise, they were always outside.

A pikogan (this is also the name of an Algonquin community) was conical in shape with an opening at the top, while the wigwam was built as a rounded dome. The bottom was covered with branches of fir or cedar to create an insulator and keep the shelter dry. Women usually constructed the family’s shelter, and when the group moved, the bark was rolled and recycled. The poles used for the frame were easier to find and were left in place for possible reuse by the family who built it or another group passing through.

More permanent homes were also built on the hunting grounds where families could return year after year. However, as they were often on the move and they could not carry big loads, they used materials that were readily available where ever they stopped. Due to the materials used, there are few existing remains of camp sites.