12. The earliest inhabitants of the Americas resided in an extensive variety of housing styles, each dependent upon the requirements and culture of the indigenous nation
Understandably, the early inhabitants of the Americas required residences in which to live and their respective houses greatly reflected both their distinct cultures and the requirements or possibilities of their environments. Utilizing available resources to create unique housing structures, these homes ranged from the portable to permanent and primitive to technologically impressive; spanning wigwams, longhouses, tepees, grass houses, wattle and daub, chickees, adobe or pueblo, earthen, plank, igloo, and brush, it is important to recognize the immense cultural distinctions in early American habitation existence.
Several North American styles of housing shared similar themes, revolving around the wigwam (“house” in the Abenaki tribal language): a style of housing employed by the Algonquian indigenous people of the northeastern and central regions of North America, who exploited the ready availability of wood in these areas to establish settled seasonal villages; typically 8-10 feet tall, wigwams were covered in woven sheets of bark and constructed in a dome-like shape. Longhouses were extremely similar to the wigwam, perhaps unsurprisingly given their common usage by the neighboring Iroquois who resided in a comparable environment; the primary difference between a longhouse and a wigwam was size, with a longhouse measuring up to 200 feet in length, 20 feet in width, and 20 feet in height, and capable of habitation by an entire clan of 60 persons within longstanding, if not permanent settlements. Equally, the tepees and grass houses inhabited by the indigenous people of the Plains regions of North America greatly resembled this structural archetype, differing in the application of materials due to regional variations through the use of buffalo hide and long prairie grass respectively.
However, these were by no means the only style employed, with the adobe houses (also known as “pueblos”) a unique addition to North American culture. Created by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, these homes were multi-story houses made of baked clay and constructed in a modular fashion akin to a modern apartment; these apartment blocks, comprised of potentially dozens of separate accommodations, often served as communal homes for entire extended families. Likewise, perhaps the most famous of all indigenous American residences, the “Igloo” were snow houses built by the Inuit people (or Eskimos) of northern Canada; dome-shaped and built from large blocks of ice, these homes acted as vital survival tools through the natural insulation provided by the snow and protection by the ice from otherwise lethal polar winds.