Saturday, October 3, 2009

Re-building the Village

There is quite a bit of excitement here at Wolf Creek Indian Village. We are rebuilding the village and “growing poles”. Much research and thought has been put into how to rebuild the village. In honesty no one can know exactly how the village was built by the inhabitants 500 years ago. All we have is the remainder of post holes in the ground. This gives us the size and the shape on the ground but so many questions arise as to how they were built above ground.

Were any of the posts rehabilitative? Possibly but it was thought this village was not occupied very long to need many replacement posts. Which ones were angled to give us an impression of being a wigwam? How tall would they be? With all the experts, and all the study in the world can really only give us a dim view. In the interest of creating a village in the modern day as true as we can to the site we have decided because of the size of some of the structures to err on the side of caution. To create a more sturdy structure. We are creating post & beam round houses for those over 18’ in diameter. Those under 18’ will be wigwam structures.

Regardless of any debate, we decided our structures will be true to the site map. Where they put a post, and it’s marked on the site map, we put a post. Even if we don’t know why that post existed. The goal is six structures framed before winter. Our first goal was to build what is called feature #32. The largest structure found on the original site. It is 25.8 feet in diameter. The poles are in place for the walls and the features found inside stated on the site map have been recreated for this structure.

The fire pit was oval, which would allow for a longer log to be burnt.

There was a small bell shaped pit near the regular fire pit with charred stones and charcoal in it.

And a storage pit lined with stones.

The whole feel of the new structure is different and it’s wonderful. We are learning so much just from this experience. It is as if the ancients are teaching us a better way to build just by using the site map.

These flags mark the posts as indicated on the original archeological site map of other structures waiting to be built.

Once our frames are up then of course the coverings will have to be acquired. The plans for the post & beam round houses eventually are for reed coverings on the bottom outside walls, flexi bark (a material that looks just like bark) for the roof and a woven pattern matting similar to a piece of matting known to be made by Eastern Woodland Indians for the inside walls. The coverings of course will depend upon funding availability.

A nice picture of the creek.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Accident

I discovered upon entering the village that one of the wigwams that had the fiber-glass removed from it by an exceptionally strong wind earlier this Spring had accidentally become a brilliant trellis. Some gourds and squash that had been donated to the village germinated at the base of the wigwam. The dome shape kept deer and other pests from reaching the squash as well as keeping the ground shady and moisture in the soil and since the vegetables are kept off the ground there is less chance of rot or blight.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rebuilding a Village

Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum has been open for thirteen years. The village has survived through blizzards, droughts, floods, and heat waves. It is now getting a face-lift. Some of our wigwams have taken heavy damage and are currently being repaired.

When the wigwams were originally built they were made from bent saplings and fiberglass with a resin coating. They let in light and were quite beautiful from the inside but were extremely hot in the summer and inaccurate in design. The new dwellings will be made from a combination of old and new materials. We're replacing the fiber glass with Flexi-bark. (For those wondering why we're not using real bark: It's because it must be replaced every few years and we are trying to be conservative with our resources.) The bottom of poles for wigwams and the palisade are charred to ward off insects and help keep moisture from damaging them.

This model represents the frame of one of the new dwellings. It is accurate according to the archaeological dig's specs. (And there is some Flexi-bark right behind it. WHOA. Looks like real bark!) In the top-most photo you can see Sam hard at work repairing the palisade wall. Later this summer we will have vines and saplings interwoven into it to make a protective wall around the village.

We're currently accepting donations to help finish the village. :) Anything you can donate to us will really be appreciated! Things we can use are:
- all sizes bamboo poles (or river cane- dry or alive)
- tanned animal hides
- matting from natural materials
- hand tools for gardening
- hand auger
- stones for tool-making (flint, obsidian, etc.)

Introduction to Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek Indian Village & Museum is located in Bastian, Virginia in Southwest Virginia. We are a museum based upon an actual archeology site known as the Brown-Johnston site. The site was discovered in 1970 during the process of construction of Interstate 77.Our recreated Indian village was first built in 1996 using a combination of man made and natural materials. The village structures were placed according to the actual site map. A combination of weather and size eroded the structures over the years.

We are now “rethinking” the building of the village. The first reconstruction did mimic size, but it did not mimic all the actual features or the posts of each structure. Through new research about American Indian architecture we are rediscovering our village site in a different light in the second reconstruction. We are taking each and every feature and post and place them to have the village teach us how it was built. Though we cannot know for certain how it was exactly built, we can say we have each and every post or feature represented.

It is looking at our site with new eyes. We hope to have the village reconstruction completed in 3 years if funding and volunteer muscle can be found.

To get to the village from the museum you must take a little walk down the hill. On your way you can see wildflowers, chipmunks, various trees (some labeled for your education), and upon crossing the bridge - a glorious patch of skunk cabbage.

The inside of the pottery wigwam contains everything needed to make clay pipes, bowls, beads, and more. The best part of making pottery is getting into the creek to collect the clay. :)

Bethany weeding one of the small gardens inside the palisade wall.

Wolf Creek in the winter time.