How to Build an Iroquois Longhouse By: Jahniece James
What is a Longhouse? A longhouse is a bark covered, long and narrow house. There are two doors , no windows and fire pits are placed along its floors. It contains one large, extended family and has a door located on each end. Haudensaunee (people of the longhouse) lived in them. All women and children that live in a longhouse are of the same clan. Numerous longhouses in an area create a village.
Materials Needed to Build a Longhouse Y forked Wooden poles Elm or black ash bark ‘shingles’ Young sapling elm tree poles Wooden splints or rope made from slipper elm or bass wood fibers
Construction of a Longhouse: Step 1 Long wooden poles are vertically set into the ground with the Y fork facing the sky. (see fig. 2) These poles are set to form a large rectangle that’s spaced approximately 4-5 ft. apart and stand 10 ft. tall (see fig. 1)
Step 2 Wooden Poles are laid horizontally over the top of the Y forked foundation and are tied into place with wooden splints or rope (see fig. 3) To make a strong foundation long poles are placed horizontally along the upright poles and tied in place (see fig. 3)
Step 3 the roof is created by bending and tying the sapling elm tree poles into place (see fig.4) To make the roofs framework stronger, cross beams are tied horizontally across the elm tree poles (see fig. 4) the roof is between 5-10 ft. tall making the overall height of the longhouse about 15-20 ft. tall. It is angled or slanted to assure that rain or heavy snowfall won’t accumulate and damage the roof
Step 4 Next use the elm or black ash bark ‘shingles’ to cover the outside of the house. After the elm or black ash trees are felled(process of downing individual trees), the bark is carefully removed in sheets that are about 3 ft. high and 6 ft. wide. The bark is then laid out and flattened. Once the bark is prepared, the bark shingles are tied into place on the upright pole framework using bark rope (see fig. 5) The shingles are overlapped to keep the rain or heavy snowfall from coming inside the longhouse (see fig. 6)
Step 5 –Last Step An outer frame of poles is placed over the shingles and tied together to finish off the longhouse. This same technique is used to cover the roof. But when covering the roof a smoke hole, directly over every fire pit in the longhouse, is left open to allow the smoke to pass through. Now your longhouse is complete.
Bibliography Kanatiyosh. “The Longhouse”. www.peace4turtleisland.org/pages/longhouse.htm (5 Jan 2011) “Images of the Longhouse” www.articboy.articboy. com (5 Jan 2011)