Anishinaabe Arcs: Tutorial 1: arc geometry

Most Anishinaabe arcs are close to a parabola. A beam of wood will naturally form a parabola when you bring the ends closer together. Parabolas are very common in nature. For example when you toss a ball, its path of flight is a parabola. When you use a drinking fountain, you are drinking from a parabola!


In mathematics a parabola can be defined as the intersection of a plane with a cone. If we tilt the plane far enough it becomes a circle, so there is a wide range of possible curves.

In our simulation we will control the parabola shape using width and height. Width is the distance between each endpoint.

By increasing just width we can make a more shallow curve. How does this relate to the canoe arcs we saw?