Mitchell Museum
of the American Indian

3001 Central Street
Evanston, IL 60201
847.475.1030

Ciporoke

The design of the Ho-Chunk’s lodge house, a ciporoke (Chee-poe-doe-kay), has not changed in over 1000 years. Why? This construction method worked for numerous Woodland indigenous cultures for centuries. The historical construction of the ciporoke was a communal effort showing gratitude and respect for the structure and workers.

The men would gather the ironwood poles and bury them about 12” into the ground. The poles were then bent over and joined to the poles from the opposite side. Historically, the women and youth fasten the poles with basswood cordage. Today, twine is used to tie the poles. Before the introduction of canvas or plastic tarp covers, the frame was covered with woven cat-tail matting in summer or elm bark known for its flexibility and durability during the winter months. With the addition of one or two fire pits, the ciporoke is sufficiently heated.

The ciporoke frames were often left up after families moved on to their summer or winter homes. This was done to provide for the next group of tribes coming through the same region or to return to after the season change.

 

 

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