Houses of Different Native Americans

When you hear about Native Americans, what is the first thing you picture in your mind? You probably picture tough-looking men holding spears and crossbows over a large buffalo. Women dressed in colorful robes collecting nuts and flowers to eat and to create their medical remedies. If someone asks you to explain about a Native American tribe that follows a slightly different lifestyle, you would probably be confused. But, do not worry! You are making a small mistake that many people make: Thinking that all Native American tribes are that same.

This essay will focus on the various Native American homes. You will learn that many Native American houses are very different. You will also learn about how living in the different region reflected the way Native Americans built their homes. The two homes we will talk about and the most recognized are the Native American Teepee and the Longhouse. Read on to find out more about these cleverly constructed homes.


The Native American Teepee is one of the most popular and well recognized Native American home there is. These homes were built by traveling tribes. Tribes whose food source depended on moving area to area due to climate change. What made these home so efficient to traveling tribes is how they could be easily built and disassembled. The teepee was built by using wooden poles for the frame. Because of the different weather changes in the areas they lived, they burned the wood so that it would not rot over time.

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When the tribe moved to a new area, the woman of each tribe rebuilt the teepee. It only took about thirty minutes! When the teepee was finished, it look like an upside down cone figure. The teepee made by Plain Indians were about twelve feet tall.

But as Native Americans evolved and became horsemen, they built teepees double the size. That is twenty feet tall! But, even though these sizes sound pretty big, compared to a Native American Longhouse, it is quite miniature to it. In the summer months, the covering, made from animal hide, is raised, forming a large hole allowing air circulation inside the teepee. In the winter months, Native Americans added multiple layers of insulation such as grass and more animal hide to make the home warmer. Even though having a home that small may bother someone in this day and age, it had a large benefit to Native Americans. Because of the small interior, it took less time for warm air from the fire to warm up the home. On the top of the teepee, there was a large hole to let out smoke from a fire.


Another Native American home was called the Longhouse. Native American Tribes who planned to live in one area for a long period of time usually built these homes. These homes were very large compared to teepees. That explains why it took one to two years to build the homes. In these Native American homes, more than one family lived in them. The families could be related to each other, or they could just be related by being known to each other. The Native American Longhouse could hold more than sixty people inside it. The Longhouse measured eighty  feet long, and eighteen feet wide. They were made with wood and bark from trees. The Native American Longhouse was originally built by the Iroquoi, who lived in the Northeast of the United States. As you know, the winter months in the Northeast can be quite cold, while the summer months are warm.

Native Americans constructed these Longhouses so cleverly, that they could easily cope with climate change. Inside the Longhouse, there was a storage room on the upper level of the house filled with all various fruits, berries, and nuts. Also, there were family areas, where families could converse with each other. On the lower level of the Longhouse, there were small beds made with wooden poles and covered with animal hide neatly stacked on top of each other. In the middle of a Longhouse there was a large fire fed with small scraps of wood. Towards the back of a Longhouse there were small personal areas with thick, buffalo hide around them to maintain privacy. On each side of the Longhouse, there were large holes to allow smoke to escape and to maintain air circulation.


The Native American Hogan is a home built by the Navajo. The size of the home is slightly bigger than the Native American Teepee. If you look at the outside walls of the home, you can infer that the Navajo Tribe meant to stay in the area they built the home for quite a long period of time. The home consists of a conical frame, made by setting up a number of sticks at an angle of about forty-five degrees. For the door of the home, thick animal hide (To withstand the force of the wind) is hung around a pole made out wooden poles. This Navajo home was slightly modern in one way: It had a chimney! If you look at an image of the Native American Hogan the ‘chimney’ might not look like the chimney that you have on your home, but it still worked the same way! The chimney on the Hogan was on the center of the house. This is because the Navajo Tribe always set up their fire in the center of their home. Scientists said that they may have done this so that the warm air spread evenly around the house. Even if the Native American Hogan may have been slightly different in figure than the other Native American homes that I told you about, it still has a more modern designed and engineered interior and features than the rest of the homes.


The Native American Wigwam, also known as, “wickiup” or “Wetu”, is a small dome shaped home built and used by the Iroquois and Algonquian Native American Tribes. It was made with a large framework of sticks, covered with bark – especially birch bark. Then, the framework was covered mats of thatch and animal hide. Since the framework on the Native American was so simply designed, it could easily be assembled and disassembled like the Native American Teepee, made by the Iroquois Tribe. Animal hide was used to create a door like many other Native American semi-permanent homes.


Even though the two Native American homes I told you about in this essay are very different in size and the amount of people it can hold, they still have some similarities! One of the similarities is how both homes have smoke holes on the top to let out smoke. If you do not know what a smoke hole is, I will tell you: A smoke hole is a small home seen on almost all Native American homes. Basically, it allows smoke from a fire to escape the home. And, in some cases, it allows cool, clean air to flow in. Another similarity is how they both had a specific place to set a fire.


One of the Native American homes I like the best is the Native American Hogan. The reason I like this home is that it is much more ‘modern’ than the other homes. As I told you in my Hogan paragraph, this Native American has a ‘chimney’ on top of it. Even if the chimney does not really look like a chimney compared to the chimneys on our homes in the twenty-first century, it still is efficient and works exactly like ours these days. On all the other homes I listed, the ‘chimney’ consisted of a hole in the roof. This may allow smoke to escape, but it allows cold air to enter. I hope you agree with me. Thank you for reading.

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