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.
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
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
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
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
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