Native Americans' Longhouse

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Native Americans' Longhouse

One of the most important structures to the Native American tribes of Western New York is the longhouse. This structure built only of wood. These structures allowed for these people to stay warm throughout winters that could be as harsh as any we have seen. The masterly crafted houses provided warmth in the winter and in the summers allowed for the air to flow through and keep the house cool. Without these houses, the tribes of New York would not have survived.

The Iroquois tribe was part of an alliance with five other tribes throughout New York that banded together against enemies, talked about land, and traded with each other. These peaceful people operated in a democracy, one of the first seen in the early world. Much is known about these tribes due to the missionaries which were sent out in the 1600’s. The Jesuits, an order of the Catholic Church devoted to teaching, spent the time to move out into the unknown world, live with these people, and teach them the ways of Catholicism. In doing this, they documented everything they saw and provided accurate accounts of the building of these structures.

These tribes were extremely smart people. They did not build out in the middle of nowhere by themselves. Many villages were created. This offered many properties to the cultural lifestyle of these tribes. The village offered significantly more protection from outsiders as well as almost forcing people of the community to band together and become a close knit unit. These villages consisted of multiple longhouses built in the middle with a palisade wall around the outside such that people could not get in from the outside without coming through the doors. This w...

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... that essentially allowed the Native Americans to live in these harsh conditions.

These houses were engineering marvels for their time. While everyone in Europe was building castles, the Native Americans of the area we live in today were building houses which were efficient and strong. While these houses do not exist today, there are many sites which you can go and visit which have reconstructed the structure of a longhouse for you to go inside and take a look around. I was privileged enough to live within five minutes of one and have seen these impressive structures. Without these structures, there is no way that these people would have been able to survive the harsh climate that New York has in the winters.

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