What Is an Algonquin Shelter?

An Algonquin shelter is a dwelling made from a wooden frame and covered with birch bark. The Algonquin Native American tribe popularized the Algonquin housing style that usually has a distinct, rounded-dome ceiling.

Algonquin shelters typically begin with a rounded, wooden frame. Once the builders create the wooden frame, they cover the frame with sheets of woven birch bark. Ropes or pieces of wood hold the birch bark in place. A typical shelter of this style typically stands fewer than 10 feet tall. While most Algonquin shelters feature a rounded dome roof, an Algonquin shelter may have a cone, square or an arched roof.

The Native-American Algonquin home builders often attached an animal skin to the house's opening to act as a door. In many cases, the occupants used a heated internal rock pit to provide heat inside the dwelling. To prevent injury from stepping on wood or other hazards in the home, the Algonquin home builders commonly lined the home's floor with additional birch bark.

Another name for an Algonquin shelter is a wigwam. The Algonquin people usually lived in warm climates, so the Algonquin style of housing suited the climate. Many Algonquin tribes moved frequently, and the people left their homes behind when they relocated. In the Algonquin tribe, each family typically lived in their own shelter, but a shelter held as many as 40 people.