What Are the Origins and History of the Long House?


Quick Answer

The longhouse was the symbol of the Iroquois culture and the emblem of the five nations. The longhouse was believed to be the first sound structure meant to stand for long periods of time without moving in the Native American way of life, signifying the transfer from tribal to civilized culture when the people stopped moving with the animals and began planting and domestication.

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Full Answer

A longhouse is a long, narrow single roomed house that was built by Native American Indians, but also by those inhabiting Asia and Europe. This general structure could be built to reach lengths of 330 feet, and were generally never wider than 23 feet. The Iroquois longhouses had doors on both ends, as getting through the homes could be a struggle due to crowding issues. Longhouses were usually covered with animal skins during the winters to keep some of the cold air out. The homes housed as many as 20 families, with little space for much room permitted. With so many living in such a small area, lice and sickness quickly spread throughout tribes. Each family were given enough room for beds, a small living room type area and a shelf for storage, with small amounts of privacy aside in individual assigned areas.

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