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"What's a Wigwam? This is a Wigwam."

Wayne Valliere is an artist and award-winning birchbark canoe builder with the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe.

But this summer, he’s not only building canoes.

He’s building a wigwam.

“We’re creating a summer lodge that our Ojibwe people lived in before 1650, before contact with the Europeans,” he explains.

The project takes hours of harvesting raw materials like willow branches, roots, birchbark and pitch.

Then Valliere will reverse engineer the wigwam by using old photographs and French documents.

“We’re using modern tools, but at the end of the day, it’s still an Ojibwe wigwam because Ojibwe hands are making it, whether we use a saw or a stone,” Valliere says. “At the end of the day, it’s still Anishinaabe.”

Join Valliere as he instructs a group to harvest willow branches from a swamp, and learn about what it takes to build a wigwam.

Valliere’s story is part of the WXPR Series, Native Voices – a project to highlight the voices and stories of local indigenous people.

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Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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