What Types of Materials Did Native Americans Use to Make Shelters?

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Some of the materials that Native Americans made their dwellings out of are wood, buffalo hide and grasses. The types of dwellings built out of wood included the wigwam and the longhouse. The Algonquin tribes who inhabited the northern territories of North America generally built wigwams.

Native Americans constructed Wigwams out of sheets and woven mats of birch bark laid over frames fashioned out of wooden poles. Wigwams were generally smaller dwellings that ranged between 8 and 10 feet high.

Longhouses were considerably larger than wigwams and could reach lengths of 200 feet. Native Americans constructed longhouses in a similar way as wigwams by using sheets of elm bark and wooden poles for the structure’s frame. Longhouses sometimes also featured raised platforms built inside of the structures using the same materials, giving the dwelling second stories.

Native Americans used buffalo hides to construct tepees, which were cone shaped and supported by a series of wooden poles overlaid with the hides. Most tepees had holes in their tops for ventilation. Tepees were generally about 12 feet high.

Grass houses were similar in design to wigwams. However, they were generally much larger and could reach heights of nearly 40 feet. The structures featured wooden beehive-like frames thatched with long-bladed prairie grasses.