Olanta Men Create Replica of Native American longhouse
By Dianne Byers (Updated 9/20/23)
Two local brothers spent the better part of two years during the pandemic recreating a scene on their
family farm that could have originated from Clearfield County’s earliest days. Greg and Mark Selfridge, both retirees, said they were looking for ways to pass the time when Mark suggested crafting a Native American longhouse fashioned similar to artifacts found from the archeological dig at New Millport
approximately five miles from where they live.
They said Native American tribes traveled and camped throughout Clearfield County. Both men said they are intrigued with and admire the Native Americans’ lifestyle. According to information published in “A View From New Millport,” published in TheProgress during the early 1990s, an ancient Native American village was discovered as early as 1859 on the Grier Bell Farm in New Millport. The location of the farm was about a mile southwest of the village.
Based on the ruins found during the 1980s at New Millport by Harry Matlack, the site of the village was home to at least three clans beginning in the 1500s through the 1600s. By 1700 the village was deserted.
The longhouse used 18-20 birch saplings the brothers
harvested. The ends of the logs had to be burned to keep them from rotting in the ground. They then hammered wooden stakes a foot deep to make holes for the poles to be installed. All the poles were bent and tied together by hand.
The two peeled bark, in four-foot sections, from a number of hemlock trees that were being harvested to create the sides and roof of the house.
In addition to the furnished longhouse they built, the brothers have crafted totems, a canoe, tools, ropes and cords, pottery,
baskets and weapons that they will feature in a display. The two said the items are replicas of those Native Americans would have made using both local natural materials and materials they would have traded for.
They estimated they have spent hundreds of hours in creation of the replicas.
Chapter 29 field trip to the Selfridge field exhibit will be on Saturday, May 11th. Details will be provided at a later date. NO chapter meeting on May 17th.