Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prophet's Town

Last weekend I went to the 200th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Tippecanoe. The event took place at the battlefield and in Prophetstown State Park. At the battlefield their was a military camp and all the units of soldiers that participated in the battle were represented there.
In Prophetstown there were interpretive events and a simulation of the village. There was a  traditional Native lodge.
These were built using a framework of poles which were covered in bark and mats made from cattail reeds. This particular lodge was built by Woodland Indian Educational Programs.
 A fire would burn at the center and the top was open for ventilation. They had the opening covered with a canvas the day I was there. It had been raining the day  before the event. 
Another traditional structure was called the "Longhouse". Originally these were built using the same pole and bark construction, but by the 19th century some natives had adopted European style construction methods. This longhouse is built using the French "Post-on-Sill" method.
Posts are placed at the corners and interspersed along the walls. The posts are attached to sill logs on the top and bottom to create a frame. The posts are slotted down the sides. Hewn timbers with tenons at the ends are stacked between posts. The tenons slid down the slots to lock the walls in place. Daubing then seals up the gaps. The roof is shake shingled and framed similar to a modern roof. 
Inside there is a central fire like in the smaller pole and bark lodge with a similar opening in the roof for ventilation. This to me seems very appropriate given that many native families in the area were heavily intermarried with French fur traders.
Probably the most unusual structure in the village is a "Hybrid" of the two. Here we have a timber frame post-on-sill style octagon shaped structure with a central fire and open roof.
This one has not been daubed yet.
 The roof is particularly interesting.
Here you can really get a good look at how the slotted posts accommodate the timbers.
As a matter of comparison they also have the more familiar style of cabin that was popular with the settlers from Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. I don't think it's much of a stretch to believe that some Native Americans had also adapted this style of home building by 1811.
 If you love log construction and are in the area it is well worth a stop at the park. The builders of these structures did a terrific job.