A unique style of housing used by the Ojibwe People
A long triangular ‘prism’ in shape, the cäbandawan was typically a multiple-family dwelling that could be used at all times of the year. It was created by placing a ridgepole, supported at each end by four forked crossed poles, with a series of smaller poles laid at a 45 degrees angle to form the sides. The structure was then covered with birchbark or hides with cattail mats used as insulation. There was usually a fireplace in the center, and possibly one or more fires between this point and the door at either end of the dwelling, depending upon the number of families occupying it. The size of some of these structures in former times could be quite large. One report of a cäbandawan at Sandy Lake had 10 fires.
Usually two families would occupy a cäbandawan, living on opposite sides of the dwelling and sharing a single fire. In addition to having doors at each end, if more than four families shared a lodge openings would be created at each side to provide an easy exit and entrance for the women, who would not then have to pass through the center of the dwelling with the possibility of stepping over people’s legs and belongings, which was strictly forbidden. Except for infants, the children were segregated according to sex. The girls slept on the side of the mother away from the father, and the boys on the side of the father away from the mother. This brought the men together in a group, and left the women to cluster around the doors.
The cäbandawan was always occupied by closely related persons—parents and their married children, married brothers, or a few generations back, by a man and his several wives
Adapted from Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), and Jennifer S. H. Brown. 1991. “Ojibwa Of Berens River, Manitoba: Ethnography Into History.” Case Studies In Cultural Anthropology. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities