Learn about the longhouse at Tuesday gathering
The longhouse in Harbor Springs will be the topic of the next "Evenings at the Longhouse" program. (Courtesy photo / July 19, 2013)
The purpose of the longhouse is to provide a peaceful outdoor setting in which aspects of Native American culture and tradition can be presented to the public both for entertainment and education. Over the years, many artists and craftspeople, language teachers, storytellers and others have been invited to the longhouse to share their heritage and knowledge. Visitors have gathered outside the longhouse to listen and watch as the ancestors would have done in the evenings many generations ago.
What had never been discussed is the longhouse itself -- what it means, how it was built, what the reproductions inside the dwelling mean, etc. At "A Longhouse Roundtable," the museum curator and board members will speak about the importance of the longhouse and answer questions from visitors. This will be very informal and give people a chance to see and understand what this structure is all about.
The longhouse, located next to the lower parking lot for the Ottawa Stadium in Harbor Springs, is an annual project of the Andrew J. Blackbird Museum. The frame was completely rebuilt this year by board members and friends by harvesting saplings, then bending and joining the young trees to form arches for the traditional structure. The final step is to cover the framework with birchbark, but this replica is covered with a canvas designed to resemble the traditional birchbark covering. The longhouse is joined by a traditionally framed wigwam. Board members decided to leave the covering off so the intricate design of the wigwam could be clearly seen.
Longhouse presentations and demonstrations are presented at 7 p.m. every Tuesday through August. There is no admission charge; donations are welcome.