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Thread: How did the Indians do it?

  1. #1

    Default How did the Indians do it?

    OK none of the technology we have today. Did they build log cabins?
    I'll go ahead and do some research but anyone know offhand?

  2. #2
    Member steelguy's Avatar
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    Default underground?

    Did read an interesting diary from written in 1881 regarding the transcontinental telegraph project, Alaska-to-Russia which was never completed, but included descriptions of various native settlements with earth-covered houses. The basic structures were dug deep into the ground, constructed of logs and had a vent in the roof. A separate hole with a ladder provided access. Center hearth fires typically filled the interiors with smoke, which was described as almost impossible to put up with by the workers invited to stay overnight. And most all of the food was dried from the fall hunt or small fish caught while ice fishing. No wonder life expectancy was so short.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    The knotched log cabin, as we know it, was originally invented by pre-viking Scandanavians, or so says the History Channel.

    Excepting Southeast, Alaskan natives generally made seasonal camps following the food--fish, birds, berries, caribou etc. Being so far north they never had the opportunity to develop the technology to device "permanent" houses.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Differing regions, with differing tribes, so it was done in various ways. In the Interior among the Athapaskans, winter dwellings were a sort of dome/quonset hut design made from bent saplings and covered with hides. Long center-hearth fire, and as steelguy rightly said it was very smoky inside. In the northwest, pits were dug then moss and whalebone and drift were used as building materials. And of course, igloos in the north, both made from snow and skins. Something to remember is that most of the interior tribes were nomadic in nature and didn't necesarily have permanent "homes" per se.

    You might have a look at the Alaska Digital Archives, likely many pics in there that may interest you:
    http://vilda.alaska.edu/cdm4/results...L&CISOROOT=all

    That above link is a search for "Native Dwelling" Also many good books from the early explorers and pioneers that describe things too. Tappan Adney, William Olgilvie, Frederick Schwatka, etc.

    And if you are ever in the Eagle River area, the Native Heritage Center has reconstructed dwellings from the six regions of the state.


  5. #5

    Default

    It was not easy back then. Hard living, a lot of people starved. Romantic thinking of the past isn't really that romantic.

  6. #6

    Talking Still something to learn

    Quote Originally Posted by KLK View Post
    It was not easy back then. Hard living, a lot of people starved. Romantic thinking of the past isn't really that romantic.
    True...but the fact is that we can still learn a lot from the way the native people survived before contact times.

    When we, (I was one year old), first moved to Holikachuk in 1954 there was at least one underground house still in use in Shageluk, the neighboring village. This house was almost completely underground, my Dad described it to me as sticking out of the ground about 3 feet or so and basically looked just like a heap of dirt.

    Inside it was pretty small, it did have a stove with a stove pipe so there was no smoke. I think there was one window.

    The advantage was that he didn't worry about fuel prices. It heated with VERY little effort.

    It probably cost about nothing to build other than sweat. Resale value was probably at least 2X the cost of construction. No adjustable rate mortgage to worry about.

    Talk about "green building"...

    Combine that with some modern thinking...a solar panel or wind generator and you are pretty independent.
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I've been to several abandonded village sights in western Alaska just south of the mouth of the Yukon. All that is left is the pits that formed most of the dwellings..and the graveyards that came after the Christains came to the river. Most of them are really small, about the footprint of a 4 man tent. Definately would be hard living.

  8. #8

    Default thanks

    I still haven't had the time to look around but will check out the links. I am certian Indian technology for what it was can be modified and utilized for modern times. I know in the Southwest U.S. as well as the middle east (still today) passive cooling and heating methods were used. Considering the cost of energy today studying these adaptations would be wise, on site materials and thermal mass. I certianly have an interesting read ahead.
    thanks guys.

  9. #9
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    It was low technology in western Alaska. A small living space with a large thermal mass covering it made of driftwood, moss and dirt. Pack it full of people and a heat source burning wood or seal oil. They were dark, smokey, and damp. A perfect breeding ground for disease. I'm not sure there is much to be learned from them any more. Certainly not any more than what is being studied and published coming out of the University of Alaska Fairbanks with their cold climate construction research.

  10. #10

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    Alaska Fairbanks with their cold climate construction research.
    looks like an interesting study. Thanks for the replies

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