spacer spacer spacer spacer
corner corner spacer


Shelter banner
Image distributed under Creative Commons license, courtesy flickr user “jellybeanz”

The type of homes that aboriginal people built depended on the kinds of materials they could find nearby, the kind of weather they had to shelter from, and how often they moved from place to place. Some tribes who did a lot of hunting and gathering created houses, like tipis and wigwams, that could be packed up or left behind. Others who lived in permanent villages could make more solid homes from materials like logs and bark.

To live in the harsh Arctic climate, the Inuit had to build strong, comfortable homes. Different Inuit groups had different kinds of houses.

Image distributed under Creative Commons license, courtesy WikiMedia. By Alpo Hassinen.

While hunting out on the sea ice, they would build igloos only as a temporary shelter from the wind and cold. However some Inuit groups began to use igloos for the entire winter.

© Glenbow Museum. Image # ND-1-440049. Reproduced with permission from the Glenbow Museum website (

Other winter houses were built with stones and covered with sod. The coastal Inuit sometimes built larger homes that were partly dug into the ground and covered by seal skin or sod roofs. To make summer homes, animal hides were sewn together and held up with sticks or whale ribs.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Cultural History.. Image # N-9694/14. Reproduced with permission from the NS Museum of Cultural History website ( ).

The Algonquians of the Eastern Woodlands lived in small villages near rivers and lakes in dome-shaped homes called wigwams. They built the frame of the house with young saplings set in a circle and tied together at the top, and covered the frame with mats woven from cattails as well as birch bark.

log hut
Image distributed under Creative Commons license, courtesy Flickr user "abbey*christine"

The Iroquoians were farmers who did not need to move around so their houses could be much larger and sturdier. They built elm or cedar-bark “longhouses” which were big enough for several families to live in together.

Reproduced with permission for non-commercial use from the Adventure Learning Foundation website (

Many of the Plateau tribes lived in log huts covered with bark or grass. In the winter, some lived in “pit houses.” These houses were holes dug into the ground, with a cone-shaped roof held up by wooden poles, and covered with branches and dirt. They used a ladder to enter and leave through an opening at the top.

On the Plains most tribes moved around a lot to hunt buffalo and gather plants for food. The most common home was a tipi, built with long poles that were tied together at the top and covered by buffalo hides.

Image distributed under Creative Commons license, courtesy Flickr.

Often they had to travel great distances to find tall straight trees that would make good tipi poles, so they brought them along whenever they moved camp.Tipis were built and set up very precisely so that they would stay dry, keep extra warm in the winter and stand up against strong winds.

left arrow
right arrow
corner corner spacer