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Native Americans

Homes and Dwellings

History >> Native Americans for Kids

Native Americans lived in a wide variety of homes. Different tribes and peoples built different types of homes. What kinds of homes they lived in depended on the materials that they had available where they lived. It also depended on the kind of lifestyle that they lived as well as the environment.

The Teepee was easy to pack up and move


Some tribes were nomads. This meant that the entire village would travel from place to place. This was common for tribes living in the Great Plains where they hunted buffalo for food. The tribe would follow the large buffalo herds as they roamed the plains. These tribes built homes that were easy to move and build. They were called Teepees.

Other tribes lived in one place for a long time. This was because they had water and food nearby. These tribes built more permanent homes like the pueblo or longhouse.

Click here for more details on three main types of homes: the Teepee, Longhouse, and Pueblo.

Wigwam Home

Wigwams were homes built by the Algonquian tribes of American Indians living in the Northeast. They were built from trees and bark similar to the longhouse, but were much smaller and easier to construct.

Wigwams used poles from trees that would be bent and tied together to make a dome shaped home. The outside of the home would be covered with bark or other material that was available where the natives lived. The frames were not portable, like the teepee, but sometimes the coverings could be moved when the tribe moved.

Wigwams were relatively small homes that formed a circle around 15 feet wide. However, these homes still sometimes housed more than just one Native American family. It was a pretty tight squeeze, but probably helped keep them warm in the winter.

A home similar to the wigwam was the wikiup which was built by some tribes in the west.

Native American Hogan

The hogan was the home built by the Navajo people of the Southwest. They used wooden poles for the frame and then covered it in adobe, clay mixed with grass. It was generally built in a dome shape with the door facing the east toward the sunrise. There was also a hole in the roof for the smoke of the fire to escape.

American Indian Hogan Home
A Navajo Hogan Home

Other Native American Homes
  • Plank house - Built by the natives in the Northwest near the coast, these homes were made from planks of a wood called cedar. Several families would live in a single home.
  • Igloo - Igloos were homes built by the Inuit in Alaska. Igloos are small domed homes made from blocks of ice. They were built to survive the cold winters.
  • Chickee - the chickee was a home built by the Seminole tribes. The chickee had a thatched roof to keep the rain off, but had open sides to keep cool in the hot weather of Florida.
  • Wattle and daub - This home was similar to the chickee, but had walls filled in using twigs and clay. It was built by tribes in the northern, slightly colder, area of the Southeast like the Cherokee in North Carolina.
Fun Facts about Native American Homes
  • The honored seat was generally facing the door. The man of the house or honored guest would sit in this position.
  • After the 1900s, the Navajo hogan home was often built using railroad ties.
  • A flap at the top of the wigwam could be opened or shut with a pole.
  • The Teepees of medicine men were often decorated with paintings.
  • The fire in an igloo was a large dish filled with animal oil which was burnt like a candle.

Take a ten question quiz at the Native American Homes questions page.

For more Native American history:

Culture and Overview
Timeline of Native American History
Agriculture and Food
Native American Art
American Indian homes and Dwellings
Homes: The Teepee, Longhouse, and Pueblo
Native American Clothing
Mythology and Legends
Glossary and Terms

Tribes and Regions
Apache Tribe
Cherokee Tribe
Iroquois Indians
Navajo Nation
Sioux Nation

Famous Native Americans
Chief Joseph
Sitting Bull
Maria Tallchief
Jim Thorpe

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