The Iroquois longhouse – Native American architecture

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Iroquois longhouse - an old etching of a building shaped like an upside down U

Iroquois longhouse – where Iroquois people lived

What is an Iroquois longhouse?

Most people who lived in the Iroquois nation lived in longhouses. An Iroquois longhouse is just what it sounds like, a long house, built of thin bendable wood, with branches woven in and out of the joists. On the outside, people used slabs of bark to make a waterproof covering.

Why did Iroquois people build houses out of wood?

The Iroquois built their houses out of wood because the area where they lived (modern New York State and Pennsylvania) had a lot of trees, but it didn’t have much good building stone, or clay for bricks. So wood was the most appropriate choice for the Iroquois. Other people who lived in longhouses include the Chinook, the Guarani, and early medieval British people.

How many people lived in a longhouse?

Longhouses were big enough so that a lot of people could live in one longhouse. Usually you lived with not just your mom and dad and brothers and sisters, but also with your cousins and aunts, and your grandparents. But only the relatives on your mother’s side. Your relatives on your father’s side would live in a different longhouse (but generally nearby).

Public buildings among the Iroquois

People in Iroquoia mostly didn’t build public buildings like schools or churches or courthouses then. Anything where people needed to meet usually took place outside, instead, or in somebody’s longhouse. An Iroquois longhouse was big enough to hold a lot of people.

Did you find out what you wanted to know about an Iroquois longhouse? Let us know in the comments!

Learn by doing: compare Iroquois longhouses to medieval European houses
More about the early Iroquois

Bibliography and further reading about Iroquois longhouses:

   

Ute architecture
Navajo architecture
Inuit architecture
Cherokee architecture
Native American architecture
Native Americans
Quatr.us home

By |2018-04-07T17:05:24+00:00August 7th, 2017|Architecture, Native American|2 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. The Iroquois longhouse – Native American architecture. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 7, 2017. Web. November 18, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

2 Comments

  1. handed 45 February 21, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    you didn’t say what houses they lived in?

    • Karen Carr February 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      They lived in longhouses?

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