Longhouses

When I hear the term Longhouse I immediately think of the Iroquois Longhouses.  But there were different types of Longhouses.  The length and design would depend on what type of terrain, and environment the Native American tribe lived in.

The actual building supplies also determined what size longhouse was going to be built.  For instance we know the Iroquois had access to Elm trees so they used the bark for the roof and walls of their longhouses.

So what types of longhouses were there? Well types would not be the best term.  Sizes would be.  A long house was built to hold families and protect them from the elements especially during the winter.

There have been examples of Longhouses that were thirty feet long and examples of Longhouses over three hundred feet long.
It was not really the design that changed but rather the length.

Always being practical the Longhouse was designed around the number of families it was intended to hold.  The areas for each family were rather small and there was not much privacy but it was a matter of survival.  Each member of the tribe depended on then other, in this way the longhouse was a place for social gatherings just as much as it was a home.

Typically a longhouse had a curved roof and no windows.  At each end was an opening for entering and exiting and also for cooling in the summer.  One interesting fact is that Long houses did not have any windows.  This made the inside very dark.  Fire was used as the primary means of heating.  The Native Americans would cut a hole in the roof and locate the fire directly below it.  When the winter came they would cover up both of the open ends with animals skins and the smoke from the fires would escape from the holes in the ceiling.

Joseph Paige 2006

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