Northeastern Houses

Native American homes of the wooded Northeast were called longhouses . Longhouses were rectangular homes with high barrel-shaped roofs and no windows. As their name states, these homes were very long, sometimes reaching over 300 feet long. To form an arc-shaped shelter, the outsides of these homes were constructed of hundreds of sharpened poles driven into the ground and bent toward the center. To form a solid wall and roof, the arced upright poles were then woven horizontally with light cross poles, twigs, and strips of bark. Bark and twigs were sewn in place and layered as shingles to create a weatherproof roof.

Longhouses were like apartments—providing homes for many families. On each long side of the house, compartments were created for each family with walls made of animal skins or bark partitions. In these living spaces were low platforms for the families to sleep on and higher platforms for storing their possessions. A longhouse had a long central hallway where families shared fire pits for cooking and warmth. To vent smoke from the fires, several smoke holes were placed along the center of the roof.

Tribes in the Northeast living south and east of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie that built longhouses were the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouses), including the Five Nations: Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk; and also the Wyandot and Erie. Another large group that built longhouses, among others, were the Lenni Lenape, living from the lower Hudson River , along the Delaware River and on both sides of the Delaware Bay , and the Pamunkey in Virgina.

Go forward to next housng type

Go back to Kid's main page
Go back to Educator's main page