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A Diorama Illustrates the Construction of a Seneca Village Bark Lodge, c. 1937

Native Americans. Bark Lodge in process of Construction
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_B16672
 
Document Description
A diorama of a Seneca Village illustrates how longhouses were constructed, 1937.
 
Questions
What are the people building? 
Why do you think it is so big? 
Could whole families live there together?
What are the people using to build this home? 
What shape is it? 
How is it different from your home?
What materials are they using to make the longhouse? 
Why would they use these? 
Why was a longhouse constructed to last approximately ten years?
Looking at the materials being used to construct the longhouse, what can you tell about where these people live? 
 
Historical Challenges
Research the materials used and the steps involved in making a longhouse. Replicating these materials as closely as possible, create a model of a longhouse.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Make a scale drawing of a longhouse.
Science: Get bark from several different trees. Set up experiments to find out which one(s) would have been best for roofs and/or coverings for longhouses. Explain your findings.
English Language Arts: Create a chart showing the steps used to make a longhouse.
 
Resources
Koestler-Grack, Rachel A. The Iroquois: Longhouse Builders (America's First People). Capstone Press, January 2003. ISBN: 0736815368
Levine, Ellen and Shelley Hehenberger. If You Lived at the Time of the Iroquois (If You Lived Series). Scholastic, Inc., September 1999. ISBN: 0590674455
Lund, Bill. The Iroquois Indians. Capstone Press, May 1997. ISBN: 1560654805
Iroquois: Indians of the Northeast. New Dimension Media, May 2004. ASIN: B00028G62G
 

Historical Context
Iroquois longhouses were long and narrow: they were  approximately 200 feet long, twenty feet wide, and twenty feet high, although the length depended on the number of families living in the longhouse.  As the family grew, the house also grew in size. Most longhouses housed about twenty families, all members of an extended family related to the mother's side of the family. Each family had its own section of the longhouse, but there was a section in the center for council meetings. All members of the extended family belonged to the same clan, and each had a separate longhouse in the village.

The longhouse had two doors, one at each end, with cooking fires down the center. There were holes in the roof to let out the smoke. The outside was covered with bark. The bottom was covered first. Then the builders worked their way toward the top to prevent rain from leaking into the longhouse.

 
Essential Question
How does geography influence a society's culture?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how geography influenced the design and construction of this structure.