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Early Native American Architecture

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Native Americans originally migrated from Siberia during the last Ice Age and have come to be the innovators of modern architecture. Over the years the needs in buildings structures have changed for numerous reasons including climate, food supplies and wars. Here are an example of some of the different structures used by the Native Americans and Modern ties to the originals.

One of the oldest Native American building types was Pit Housing. It uses holes dug into the earth's surface, which results in houses to be cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Above ground a framework of wood poles would support mats and a sod roof. It allowed for adaptation to the climate no matter where the tribe settled. In recent years this design has resurrected. Examples of the modern "Pit Houses" include the Solar Hemicycle House in Wisconsin.

Longhouses are structures that can be up to 100 meters long and longer that they are wide. These buildings were built using long poles driven into the ground and used leaves and other material that were woven around the poles. This provided weather proofing and it was used across at least three major areas of the North American region. These houses proved to community housing as they could house up to twenty families. These building are used this very day, however now they are built with better materials and not usually to house people.

A Teepee is a tent originally made of animal skins or birch bark and popularized by the Native Americans of the Great Plains. The Teepee was remarkably durable, and gave warmth and comfort to its inhabitants during harsh winters, was dry during heavy rains, and cool during the heat of summers. Its portability was an important factor since most Plains Indians were highly mobile, and it could be broken down and packed away quickly when a tribe decided to move, and could be constructed just as quickly when a tribe settled in a new area. Unlike the Longhouse the Teepee could only accommodate one to two families and was the beginning of the single family home.

The Native American tribes built many different buildings. They constantly evolved for many different reasons. The modern world owes the Early Native American Settlers a debt for providing so much knowledge of architecture.



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