An Indian cabin or hut, usually of a conical form, and made of a framework of poles covered with hides, bark, or mats; called also tepee.

The wigwam, or Indian house, of a circular or oval shape, was made of bark or mats laid over a framework of branches of trees stuck in the ground in such a manner as to converge at the top, where was a central aperture for the escape of smoke from the fire beneath. The better sort had also a lining of mats. For entrance and egress, two low openings were left on opposite sides, one or the other of which was closed with bark or mats, according to the direction of the wind.

Alternative forms: weekwam.

Origin: From the Algonquin or Massachusetts Indian word wek, "his house," or "dwelling place;" with possessive and locative affixes, we-kou-om-ut, "in his (or their) house," contracted by the English to weekwam, and wigwam.

(01 Mar 1998)

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