NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSING

NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSING

In and north of the United States there were some twenty well-defined types of native dwellings, varying from the mere brush shelter to the five-storied pueblo.

In the eastern United States and adjacent parts of Canada the prevailing type was that commonly known under the Algonkian name of wigwam, of wagon-top shape, with perpendicular sides and ends and rounded roof, and constructed of stout poles set in the ground and covered with bark or with mats woven of grass or rushes. Doorways at each end served also as windows, and openings in the roof allowed the smoke to escape. Not even pueblo architecture had evolved a chimney.

In general the houses were communal, several closely related families occupying the same dwelling.

The Iroquois houses were sometimes one hundred feet in length, divided into compartments about ten feet square, opening upon a central passageway along which were ranged the fires, two families occupying opposite compartments at the same fire. Raised platforms around the sides of the room were covered with skins and served both as seats and beds. The houses of a settlement were usually scattered irregularly, according to the convenience of the owner, but in some cases, especially on disputed tribal frontiers, they were set compactly together in regular streets, and surrounded by strong stockades. The Iroquois stockaded forts had platforms running around on the inside, near the top, from which the defenders could more easily shoot down upon the enemy.

In the Gulf states, every important settlement had its "town-house", a great circular structure, with conical roof, built of logs, and devoted to councils and tribal ceremonials.

The tipi (the Sioux name for house) or conical tent-dwelling of the upper lake and plains region was of poles set lightly in the ground, bound together near the top, and covered with bark or mats in the lake country, and with dressed buffalo skins on the plains. It was easily portable, and two women could set it up or take in down within an hour. On ceremonial occasions the tipi camp was arranged in a great circle, with the ceremonial "medicine lodge" in the centre.

The semi-sedentary Pawnee Mandan, and other tribes along the Missouri built solid circular structures of logs, covered with earth, capable sometimes of housing a dozen families.

The Wichita and other tribes of the Texas border built large circular houses of grass thatch laid over a framework of poles.

The Navaho hogan, was a smaller counterpart of the Pawnee "earth lodge". The communal pueblo structure of the Rio Grande region consisted of a number—sometimes hundreds—of square-built rooms of various sizes, of stone or adobe laid in clay mortar, with flat roof, court-yards, and intricate passage ways, suggestive of oriental things.

The Piute wikiup of Nevada was only one degree above the brush shelter of the Apache. California, with its long stretch from north to south, and its extremes from warm plain to snowclad sierra, had a variety of types, including the semi-subterranean.

Along the whole north-west coast, from the Columbia to the Eskimo border, the prevailing type was the rectangular board structure, painted with symbolic designs, and with the great totem pole carved with the heraldic crests of the owner, towering above the doorway.

On the Yukon we find the subterranean dwelling, while the Eskimo had both the subterranean house and the dome-shaped iglu, built of blocks of hardened snow.

Besides the regular dwellings, almost every tribe had some style of temporary structure, besides "sweat houses", summer arbors, provision caches, etc.

ANASAZI ADOBE HOUSING


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