The Northwest Pacific Coastal Native Americans did not live in tepees as did the Yakima Native Americans of Eastern Washington.
Instead, they lived in longhouses built of thick cedar planks. These homes were also called plank houses. These early people chopped down and split massive cedar trees using beaver teeth and stone axes. Amazing!
The longhouses were huge. Some were about 100 feet long and 25 feet wide, with low roofs for easy heating. The only openings in the whole building was the entrance door and a hole in the roof to allow smoke to escape.
If the longhouse was built by the tribe, the Chief would assign space within the longhouse. Each family would be assigned a living area, a space of their own, within the house.
If an individual built the longhouse for his own family, he lived in that longhouse, along with his wife, his male and female children and their children. As each member of the family grew to adulthood and married, they were assigned space for their family, within the family longhouse.
When the owner of the house died, this arrangement ended. Either the house was given away to someone outside the family or it was burnt to the ground. It was believed if the family remained the spirit of the departed might be either bothered by them or worried about them. To avoid the possibility of this, the family had to move and live elsewhere.
Whether space in the plank house was assigned by the father of a family, or by the chief of a tribe, daily life in each plank house was the same. The only thing that varied was the size of the house.
Furniture: Furniture was pretty simple. In their private area, each family built bunk beds for sleeping. Above the bunks, underneath the rafters of the longhouse, they built open shelves to hold personal belongings and stores of food. Underneath the bottom bunk, they dug a hole, about two feet deep, into the earth, to store other foods.
Their separate areas were tidy, cheerful and colorful. Clothing, blankets, mats, and beautifully woven baskets provided color.
Native American Homes
in Olden Times
Return to the Northwest Native Americans Index
or the Native American Index
Native Americans for Kids
Native Americans in US, Canada, and the Far North
Early people of North America (during the ice
age 40,000 years ago)
Northeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Northeast Woodlands include all five great lakes as well as the Finger Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. Come explore the 3 sisters,
longhouses, village life, the League of Nations, sacred trees, snowsnake games, wampum, the
arrowmaker, dream catchers, night messages, the game of sep and more. Special Sections:
The Lenape Indians. Read two
myths: Wise Owl and
The Invisible Warrior.
Southeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Indians of the Southeast were considered members of the Woodland Indians. The
people believed in many deities, and prayed in song and dance
for guidance. Explore the darkening land, battle techniques, clans and marriage, law and order, and
more. Travel the Trail of Tears.
Indians and Cherokee
Plains Indians - What was life like in
what is now the Great Plains region of the United States? Some
tribes wandered the plains in search of foods. Others settled down and grew crops. They spoke different
was the buffalo so important? What different did horses make?
What was coup counting? Who was
Southwest Indians -
Pueblo is not the
name of a tribe. It is a Spanish word for village. The Pueblo People are the decedents of the
Navajo and the
Apache arrived in the southwest in the 1300s. They
both raided the peaceful
Pueblo tribes for food and
other goods. Who were the Devil Dancers? Why are blue stones important? What is a wickiup? Who was
Child of Water?
Pacific Coastal Northwest Indians -
What made some of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes "rich" in ancient times? Why were woven mats so
important? How did totem poles get started? What was life like
in the longhouse? What were money blankets and coppers? How did
the fur trade work? How did
Raven Steal Crow's
Inland Plateau People - About
10,000 years ago, different tribes of Indians settled in the Northwest Inland Plateau region of the
United States and Canada, located between two huge mountain ranges - the Rockies and the Cascades. The
Plateau stretches from BC British Columbia all the way down to nearly Texas. Each village was independent, and each had a
democratic system of government. They were deeply religious and believed spirits could be found
everything - in both living and non-living things. Meet the
California Indians - The Far West was
a land of great diversity. Death Valley and Mount Whitney are the highest and lowest points in the
United States. They are within sight of each other. Tribes living in what would become California were
as different as their landscape.