In the United States, indigenous Americans are almost always thought of in conjunction with the teepee. It may come as a surprise to some, then, that most American tribes didn’t actually use teepees as their primary means of residence! Some tribes used teepees strictly for ceremonial purposes, while the vast bulk of America’s indigenous peoples didn’t use teepees at all.
Teepees are conical wooden frames that were traditionally wrapped with birch bark or animal skins. Today, most teepees are made instead with canvas. Traditionally, only tribes in the Great Plains region used teepees as places of residence. Plains tribes lived in teepees because their nomadic lifestyle, centered around buffalo hunting, required them to be consistently on the move.
Teepees were almost never found west of the Rocky Mountains or east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of some Great Lakes tribes. It’s also important to note that each tribe constructed and used teepees in a slightly different way.
Indigenous peoples from other parts of the world use structures similar to teepees, however. The Sámi people of northern Scandinavia, for instance, use a structure called a Lavvu, that looks nearly indistinguishable from many American-style teepees. In Mongolia, yurts bear a striking resemblance to American teepees.
If you’d like to recreate history and see how different types of indigenous housing were constructed, you can find the pieces you need from a lodgepole supplier in Utah.
America’s diverse indigenous tribes used a number of different styles of housing. Here are just some of the types of housing commonly found in the pre-colonial United States:
- Long houses: Long houses were constructed with pole frames and bark coverings. Long houses were communal living centers, where wooden screens created private rooms. Most long houses also consisted of two floors—the bottom floor was for daily activity, and the top floor included lodgings!
- Pueblos: Some of the most iconic images of the American Southwest include pueblos, or adobe homes and cities. These communal complexes are constructed of clay and straw, which are baked into bricks. Many pueblos are built into the sides of cliffs and mountains, making them extremely interesting to see and visit.
- Plank houses: Found throughout the Pacific Northwest, plank homes are constructed of flat cedar wood planks linked up against a wooden frame. Plank houses bear a striking resemblance to European-style chalets and cabins; however, indigenous plank building technology predates the Northwest’s European invasion.
- Igloos: Used by some Inuit tribes in Canada, Greenland and Alaska, these homes are built of densely packed snow. While it may seem counterintuitive, snow is an excellent insulator, meaning that igloos offer warmth and essential protection from harsh polar winds and weather conditions.
For more than a decade, Huberwoods has been the premier wooden lodgepole supplier in Utah. We are proud to provide each of our clients with dependable lumber supplies that meet their unique and individual needs. To learn more about our exciting range of teepee poles, lodgepoles, furniture logs and more, contact one of our friendly representatives today!
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