Ciiporoke of Teejop

A ciiporoke frame is made of bent saplings.

The ciiporoke is the standard Ho-Chunk housing structure used in the Teejop area. Ho-Chunks would build the ciiporoke in different sizes depending on the intended use: housing, cooking, food storage, community gathering, ceremonies, and other societal needs. The ciiporoke’s purpose impacted those involved in building. The men would build larger ciiporoke for community and traditional gatherings, while women would be responsible for the family home construction. The Ho-Chunk community would work together to stay on task and complete construction.

The ciiporoke is constructed from available tree saplings with a preference for tamarack for its ability to bend easily. Other types of wood used are basswood, ash, elm, or maple. The construction of the ciiporoke resembles a basket with stronger saplings used for framing. The sapling poles are stuck into the ground and come together at the top. The sapling poles are then woven together and tied with twine rope made from basswood bark. The frame is covered with larger sheets from birch tree bark or mats made of woven cattails, bulrush, or natural fibers. 

The season the ciiporoke was utilized dictated the materials in wall construction and inside flooring. Fireplaces are in the center of the ciiporoke with a floor heating system used during the winter home. Seating and beds line the inside of the ciiporoke and are made from sticks, woven hides, and furs to make the seating and sleeping space comfortable. The seating was placed high enough to arrange items underneath for storage. Woven mats would cover the floor, and the door was made from woven materials or a hide that could be opened in one panel. 

The family’s ciiporoke contents served a purpose in caring for them during each season and harvesting cycle. The activities performed inside the ciiporoke consisted of daily living tasks in maintaining Ho-Chunk life. Today families still have ciiporoke on their land, used for additional living space or ceremonies. 

The ciiporoke is still an essential part of Ho-Chunk life.

(Learn about the pronunciation of ciiporoke).

Written by Molli Pauliot, member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Buffalo Clan, and project assistant for Our Shared Future.