Q:

What were Tlingit homes like in the past?

A:

Quick Answer

The typical house for the Tlingit people was a large, wooden rectangle with cedar planks on the side and a low sloping roof, both of which were connected to four decorated corner posts. The floor of the house was dug down to allow for rows of benches along the sides.

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Full Answer

One row of benches was for people to sit on, while wooden partitions divided the other rows into sleeping compartments for the people who shared the house in common. The common families all had their own cooking and heating fires near their sleeping compartments, and a large communal fire in the middle of the house was generally used for cooking food for guests or nobility. At the rear of the house were the living quarters for the noble family that owned the house and also a secure storeroom for all their precious treasures.

Tlingit houses had an oval-shaped front door. All the slaves that belonged to the house usually slept next to the door. Each tribe had a winter town, which was usually located in a sheltered bay and consisted of a row of large plank houses facing the beach. Drying racks, fish smoking sheds and other work areas were located on the beach in front of the houses.

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