What Are Traditional Kwakiutl Houses?

The traditional houses built by the Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest are large, rectangular structures made of heavy timber clad with cedar wood planks. Built for communal living and ceremonial use, traditional Kwakiutl houses are often brightly decorated.

The Kwakiutl people live on Vancouver Island and other islands in and around British Columbia. The Kwakiutl enjoy large extended families and build sizable wooden structures to house them. Typical tribal house dimensions are 40' by 60' with a 20' ceiling at the central point. Stylized birds, bears and whales are often used to decorate the front of a Kwakiutl tribal house. Most boast an elaborately carved totem pole, as well.