IAIS rebuilds Native American village in CT

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“The biggest problem was that the ground on which the structures were built was shifting in the winter due to constant freezing and thawing,” said Director Chris Combs.

“Back in the time of the Native Americans, wigwams, longhouse and other buildings lasted much longer because people lived in them day-to-day. Some one would notice a leak or a rotting piece of wood and fix it immediately,” Combs said. “No one lives our structures, so small problems can compound quickly.”

Jeff Kalin, owner a company called Primitive Technologies, was hired to help with the rebuilding of the longhouse and wigwams. Jeff Kalin has been working with IAIS since the 1980s and specializes in recreating the material culture of Native American life. Along with his son, Griffin Kalin, the two began planning, gathering and preparing materials for construction about two years ago.

“This time, we wanted to use Red Cedar for the frames of the structures,” Griffin explained. “Red Cedar doesn’t break down in the soil, it lasts a lot longer and it bend easily,” he continued.

When searching for local Red Cedar trees to harvest for the project, Eversource stepped forward and generously offered 60 prime trees on land the company owns near Bull’s Bridge in Kent.

For the bark to cover the structures with, several people offered material from downed trees that fell during the strong storms that struck the area in May 2018. “It was actually perfect timing because the ideal time to gather bark is between May and July when the sap is flowing and the bark is easy to peel off,” Griffin said.

The cordage, made from Hickory trees, to tie the structures together is also time consuming to prepare. “All said and done, we used over a mile of cordage for the whole project,” Griffin said.




Posted: October 17, 2019


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