What is a Wetu and a Nush Wetu?

Wetus were used during the summer and warmer seasons. They were built near the wooded coast where cool breezes came off the ocean and the people were closer to the ocean for seasonal fishing and other food gathering. Described in a moment of humor Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal member, Annawon Weeden said, "They were the ultimate beachfront condos!"


Wetus were typically made from cedar saplings that are set in holes in the ground, then bent and fastened together into a frame. The frame was traditionally covered with mats of loosely woven reeds like cattails designed to let the cool summer breezes flow through. And since they were circular in shape the air circulated freely.


These are photos were taken inside wetus at Plimoth Plantation


Wetu Wampanaog Many Hoops Thanksgiving      





This is a nush wetu

Nush Wetu Wampanoag winter house Many hoops thanksgiving

In winter the Wampanoag would move inland and built larger multifamily homes called nush wetu meaning house with three fires. They are sometimes called longhouses in English.







Inside of a Nush Wetu Wampanoag Thanskgiving Many Hoops



Inside both the wetu and nush wetu are bullrush mat wall coverings. This is what they look like.


Annawon Weeden, Mashpee Wampanoag tribal member explains more about wetus and how to build them.



What is the difference between a wetu and a wigwam ?
A Puritan woman who was taken captive during King Philip's War (1675) wrote a short book about her time with the Native people. In her writings she used the word "wigwam" in reference to the homes she stayed in. Because of the popularity and notoriety of her book, the word wigwam became the generic term for any "Indian house" regardless of the Nation or Tribe being referred to. Today, it continues in use, even though it is erroneous. When referring to the Wampanaog Nation the word for home is "wetu". Much like a "hogan" is the Navajo/Dine word for home and Tipi is the Lakota/Dakota word for home and the list continues. Each Nation and Tribe has their own language just as the French, English, Spanish, or German of Europe.


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