Wampanoag wetu: biodegradable house-dome before Bucky Fuller

The Wampanoag people who lived along the U.S. East Coast built dome-shaped homes called wetus. The round shape was most efficient for heating or cooling the home evenly and for withstanding high winds and hurricanes. It also emerged naturally from the support structure built from saplings bent to create a frame. The winter homes were covered in bark and the summer homes were covered in mats woven from cattail reeds.

“I know some people who wouldn’t mind going back to the traditional houses,” explains Tim Turner, manager of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program at Plimouth Plantation. “The Wampanoag lived in these houses until about the 1960s on Cape Cod. In the 1940s or so it was outlawed because it didn’t have running water or electricity.”

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