Who lived here in America before Christopher Columbus came over and brought the Europeans? Why, the Native Americans did, of course! The Native Americans were the people who lived here in the American continents originally. Sometimes, they are referred to as Indians, and this is because when Columbus first met them, he thought he was in India! However, there wasn’t just one group of Native Americans. There were a lot of different groups of Native Americans, and one thing that made them different was the kinds of houses that they lived in! Just like you and I have different types of houses, not all Native American houses were the same. THey had different styles based on where they lived. We are going to focus on the houses of the North American Native Americans. Here is a visual of all the different types of houses, and if you click here, you can print out some different Native American house types to make!
One of the most common types of housing on the plains of North America was something called a tepee, or tipi. A tepee was a cone-shaped tent made up of long poles and wrapped in animal skins, usually buffalo hides. Many of the Plains Indian tribes such as the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Kiowa, and Lakota tribes all lived in tepees. Often, these houses would have a fire place in the center, and the skins that served as the roof helped to keep the tepee warm. They were also often highly decorated on the outside! They would paint pictures of things that were around them, including animals, plants, streams, and people that were important to them. Do you think that you could decorate a tepee with things that are important to you? Well, if you have a paper bag, you sure can try! This site gives more detailed instructions to create your own tepee!
In the Northeastern woodlands of the United States, tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, such as the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, lived in buildings called longhouses. These buildings were often made of birch bark that was built around poles. These houses were long and narrow, and only sometimes were divided into separate rooms. Often times, many families would live in the same longhouse! Villages were made up of these longhouses, and in order to make sure that everyone was protected and warm, villages were usually set up in a longhouse circle. This meant that the people of the tribe had to work hard together to build their houses. Do you think you can build an Iroquois longhouse? With shoe box and some craft supplies, you just might be able to!
Smaller, hut-shaped houses were constructed in the Northeast and Midwest as well. These smaller houses were called wigwams, and they were designed for tribes that were moving from place to place, such as the Abenaki, Sauk, Fox, Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Wampanoag tribes. Wigwams were round and dome shaped, and they were usually covered with birch bark like the longhouses were. They would have had a front door opening, and they were often 10-12 feet tall! Wigwams were good for tribes who only stayed in one place for a couple of months at a time, because a wigwam could be taken down and moved. Using some paper strips, staples (get mom or dads help for this one), some old newspaper, and some brown paint, you can make your own wigwam, just like I did!
Now, what about the Indians who lived in places that got really cold, like Northern Canada or Alaska? They didn’t have birch trees to make wigwams and longhouses, so what did they use? Why, they used the ice and snow of course! Tribes like the Inuit and Eskimo peoples created houses in their cold regions called igloos! These houses were made out of blocks of ice, and were designed to keep the harsh winter breezes out. With families living inside the igloos, the inside temperature was much warmer than the air outside, and many igloos could even have a fire inside to serve as a heat source! Thanks to Glued to my Crafts, all you need to create your own wintry igloo is a paper plate and some cotton balls!
But what about people who lived in the opposite climate? For the people who lived in really hot areas, they didn’t have big, strong trees or ice! So what did they use to make their houses? They used what they had an abundance of: clay! The Pueblo people of the Southwest made bricks out of clay and straw and created what are known as adobe houses. These apartment-like buildings would be made on top of one another, but each little house would have one family living inside. The villages would be set up so that many of the small homes were very close together in order to protect the people of the village. These miniature cities function and even look a lot like the cities we see now! Click here to see a great YouTube video on how you can make your own adobe village!
Now that you have learned lots about where Native Americans lived, let’s make an inspired snack! Much like the tepees of the plains, these snacks are perfect for all weather! Grab mom or dad and check out Ducks ‘n a Row to see how you can make your own sugar cone tepee! And be sure to come back tomorrow for “Clothing and Feathers!”