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Earth Lodges

Native American culture is rich with stories, legends, and religious exercises that are interesting to study. One facet of their culture was the type of houses or dwellings they lived in. Each tribe had a different type of dwelling that they built.


Earth Lodge

Native Americans that lived in the Great Plains and Eastern Woodlands made houses called "earth lodges." These lodges were partially underground and were dome shaped in their construction.

I've Been Framed!

The building of these structures was hard work. In order to achieve the dome shape that lodges are famous for, Native American tribes would bend tree trunks to act as a frame. Workers would then dig down into the ground so that the floor of the lodge was lower than the ground level.

Posts made from wood would then be placed strategically around the structure, where the tops would meet in the middle. A roof would then be constructed using wood and thatch to provide good coverage.


Pawnee Earth Lodge

Earth lodges came in all different sizes. Some of them were built large enough to house several families, while others were built for a single family or individual. Often times the size of the lodge was determined by the height of the trees being used in their construction. A good portion of the lodges were built by Native Americans living in the Midwest region of the country, especially the Mandan tribe.

Smoke on the Water

The inside of the lodge contained a fire pit located in the center of the floor. A hole was made in the roof to allow the smoke to escape for ventilation. During heavy rains, a special cover was placed over the smoke hole in order to prevent the inside of the lodge from getting wet.

Cottonwood was the most popularly used wood to construct the dwellings, and due to its soft nature, it required the homes to be rebuilt every six years or so.

Women played a pivotal role in building earth lodges. In fact, the largest portion of the construction was done by women. The men would take care of the logs and some of the heavier items, while the females in the tribe took care of everything else.


Native American Earth Lodge

It's the Pits

Built into the dwellings were cache pits. These pits were designed to help store dried goods and vegetables. They were lined with grasses and willow that made a perfect storage space. There was also a windbreak that served to keep the wind out, and also as a privacy measure.

Many of the earth lodges that have been discovered by archaeologists have been close to fields that Native Americans used for farming purposes. This could point to the fact that many of the families living in these houses were farmers, while the majority of those in tipis were hunters.


North Dakota Earth Lodge

Conclusion

Earth lodges provided many of these tribes with adequate shelter from the rain, snow, cold winter winds, and hot summer sun. The construction of these homes has provided us with a wealth of information to help understand these fascinating people. And with a rich history such as this, why not start constructing your own earth lodge today?


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By the way, in Canada the earth lodges are called Quiggly Holes


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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