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Thread: old indian dwellings

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    Default old indian dwellings

    has anyone ever come across old indian dwellings in alaska? if so what do they look like? i have seen some areas where the ground is caved in kinda....with ashes and burnt bones underneath.....

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    Not Indian, but Eskimo.
    Old sod houses are usually earth mounds that had a wooden structure in them, making them semi subterrnen. VERY warm and very insulated that way.They usually are a large pit and a ditch that the tunnel cold trap was escavated as well. The woods rotted or recycled hundreds of years back.
    Often we find old tent circles as well .

    Up this way they rarely built a fire inside, they cooked and heated large rocks outside, sometimes in a small wind break, and brought the stones inside and with a couple oil lamps kept it cozy.

    Most places that you find bones and ashes are from cooking fires.
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    Member greythorn3's Avatar
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    seen a dwelling off 4th avenue by a elementary school i think the cops run them out of there though this last winter.
    Semper Fi!

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    [QUOTE=strangerinastrangeland;736083] a couple oil lamps kept it cozy. QUOTE]

    I've always been interested, in how those Oil Lamps actually worked.

    The ones I've seen looked like shallow bowls with a hump in the middle.

    Have you ever seen one in use?

    What kind of Oils were used?

    What kinds of wicks?

    If you know, and wanna tell me, Thanks.

    (I'd like to try it.) (I've read they require almost constant trimming of the wick.)

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    Default Smitty...

    you don't watch too many Native movies eh? Try watchin' "The Fast Runner"...in it, you'll see a round stone filled with SEAL oil, & on it a moss wick lit...VIOLA, an oil lamp...

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    If you get a chance pick up a copy of Shem Pete's Alaska. Lots of info on the native culture & history of southcentral Alaska. Has alot of the original names for all the rivers, lakes and mountains and their meanings.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    The book 50 miles from tommrow by Hensley is a great read and written by a native.

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    I worked several summers in western Alaska on both the lower Kuskokwim and lower Yukon as a land surveyor. We were surveying Native allotments and frequently came across house pits and old village sites with numerous house pits. The BLM was supposed to locate them and set them aside as historical sites, but they missed a bunch. My crew had total respect for them and left them exactly as we found them. Lots of graves from the late 1800's to early 1900's...corresponding to the introduction of Christianity and it's accompanying disease epidemics that killed many of the Natives in the region.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    The original 'Adventure Archeologist" wasn't Indy, it was L.J. Giddings who did alotta work up this way. His book "Ancient Men of the Arctic" is a great read.
    Me and the wife have boated and hiked to most all of his digs.

    Lamps are cool..........
    Ive seen many different designs of lamps, some are small pottery, some are stone with a dished out 'bowl', some pocket sized, some unmovable 'house' lamps, while some had animals as wick steds and some were shaped like a dust pan in alotta ways..... I think each is unique.

    I belive they used anything that could burn, Seal oil, Whale oil(just like the average American untill the 1890's) Caribou fat, marrows, fish oil....what ever they needed they had it figured.

    The wife has a few.......

    Big

    Small, well used modle....



    One in use made of tinfoil.


    I imagine Crisco would light your life inna pinch............
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    I worked several summers in western Alaska on both the lower Kuskokwim and lower Yukon as a land surveyor. We were surveying Native allotments and frequently came across house pits and old village sites with numerous house pits. The BLM was supposed to locate them and set them aside as historical sites, but they missed a bunch. My crew had total respect for them and left them exactly as we found them. Lots of graves from the late 1800's to early 1900's...corresponding to the introduction of Christianity and it's accompanying disease epidemics that killed many of the Natives in the region.
    We interrupt this thread for a hijack: AKDoug, I can't let that one slide. Christianity did not bring disease to and kill off natives; Christianity and disease were both brought by white men. The first white men making contact with the natives were not teaching Christianity, either. Russian fur trappers and whalers were enslaving them to work in the fur and whaling trade, American explorers were sailing the coast, and all were introducing new diet and diseases. White man's diet had a lot to do with the disease epidemics suffered by native peoples: not isolated to Alaskan natives, either. This is a great link detailing the connection between diet and disease.

    And now back to our regular program! We found some sites while working in the Aleutians. The ones we found were just sunken spots in the earth, as it had been decades and sometimes centuries since an actual home was there.

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    I've explored some of the Aleut sites in the western Aleutians. My Aleut friend called the structures "barabas (sp?)". Circular mounds or pits would have had whalebone or driftwood roof pieces covered in hides. Lots of midden piles around with bird and fish bones and one sizable whale skeleton. Neat stuff. Some stone and bone tools left as well.

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    They are all over in the Kenai area. If you come down to go dipnetting take a stroll up the hill to the City Park and walk along the bluff toward the armory. Look carefully along the edge of the hill and you will find them.

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    Default Yes, and...

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    We interrupt this thread for a hijack: AKDoug, I can't let that one slide. Christianity did not bring disease to and kill off natives; Christianity and disease were both brought by white men. The first white men making contact with the natives were not teaching Christianity, either. Russian fur trappers and whalers were enslaving them to work in the fur and whaling trade, American explorers were sailing the coast, and all were introducing new diet and diseases. White man's diet had a lot to do with the disease epidemics suffered by native peoples: not isolated to Alaskan natives, either. This is a great link detailing the connection between diet and disease.

    And now back to our regular program! We found some sites while working in the Aleutians. The ones we found were just sunken spots in the earth, as it had been decades and sometimes centuries since an actual home was there.
    ... Barrow's frozen corpses from long, long ago, when autopsied, showed severe black lung (among other diseases). My guess is that a lifetime of oil lamps in cramped quarters had more than a little to do with that.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    The churchs only stopped them from being hunters and gathers keeping them in one place. When that didn't take all the native out of them the churchs sent them to schools far from home to remove their culture. I would guess that from around 1930 till 1970 was the biggest loss of native life and history passed on by elders.

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    Default Well Will....

    ... that's pretty much a generalization if I ever heard one!
    Being big church folks sure didn't seem to slow down my wife's people from speaking Yupik and being near full time hunter-gatherers. And funny, but I know natives from lots of denominations who were pretty much traditional until the TV came along. I'd say that a goodly portion of native culture in many parts of rural Alaska has disappeared since the 1980s due to electronica not them dang missionaries.
    The BIA had more say in localizing native groups than missionaries did.

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    Thank You Stranger:

    I've seen them in museums etc.

    One of my BILs mentioned using a saucer and a rag, IIRC.

    My wife doesn't seem to know much about'em, but she might spare me some seal oil.

    What I find intriguing is, they seem to be the ultimate in simplicity, however, they may require some skill in using them.

    As for "moss" that was mentioned by gogoalie, there's all kinds of "moss". I imagine it would have to be something that soaked up the oil??? Or maybe, just anything that would burn in the oil. Maybe, something that that the oil would keep from burning up fast.

    That's just speculation, of course, but you can see why I want to try it. Eventually, I will. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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    Ahhhh yaaaa, Smitty, I think the wife uses the white fluff from "Tundra Cotton" with her tinfoil.

    I know that she gathers bunches , and twists them into a cordage about 6 inches long for wicks and when they are charred and oil soaked, they light easily. She adjusts them every so often, to keep away the soot an have a bright light.
    A rip of cloth from a tee shirt works too....
    Weve only used them a little bit, rather novel but certainly practical......Camping and even here in Noorvik, before we had electricity, like when the generator in the gas light is dirty or when we run outta candles and such, theres no need to go without light.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Default barabara or ulax

    barabara or ulax are all along the coast line of the cook inlet. The Aleuts made them for seasonal fish camps. They are a semi- burmed dwelling covered with what was handy. There are also larger one's used for a more long term use. The bigger ones are sometimes found in more protected spots, from the weather. This is as told to me by native friends in Seldovia.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Lots of graves from the late 1800's to early 1900's...corresponding to the introduction of Christianity and it's accompanying disease epidemics that killed many of the Natives in the region.
    There is nothing untrue about this statement. The fact that the graves were marked with dated crosses, indicating that they were from the time of the major influx of Christain missionaries in Western Alaska, and the fact that their burial practices changed in relation to this. There is also no denying that the missionaries brought diseases the Native population could not handle. My sentence above did not say ALL the Natives in that time died from contact with missionaries, it just said we found lots of graves that could be traced to that time.

    I also re-surveyed the very first Catholic mission site on the Yukon River. It was burned and they moved upriver to St. Mary's. I had a great coversation with two locals that were in their 80's about the Church, why the mission burned, their parent's stories of the Church's arrival, and these two men's personal histories related to the Catholic Church. I wish I had recorded the conversation.
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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Well, I'm denying.

    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    There is nothing untrue about this statement. The fact that the graves were marked with dated crosses, indicating that they were from the time of the major influx of Christain missionaries in Western Alaska, and the fact that their burial practices changed in relation to this. There is also no denying that the missionaries brought diseases the Native population could not handle. My sentence above did not say ALL the Natives in that time died from contact with missionaries, it just said we found lots of graves that could be traced to that time.

    I also re-surveyed the very first Catholic mission site on the Yukon River. It was burned and they moved upriver to St. Mary's. I had a great coversation with two locals that were in their 80's about the Church, why the mission burned, their parent's stories of the Church's arrival, and these two men's personal histories related to the Catholic Church. I wish I had recorded the conversation.
    Your assertion is historically a load of bullschist, with all due regards to your fairly contemporary informants. Concurrently with missionaries came traders, prospectors, fish canners, and trappers many of whom had, shall we say, "intercourse" with Native peoples. While one may possibly say that WHITE PEOPLE in general brought diseases that the Native population could not handle, implying that missionaries were the sole perpetrators is inaccurate. They may have nursed dying native people and buried them, but they were not the sole bringers of diseases.

    As I mentioned earlier, autopsies of Eskimos who died in pre-contact times show diseases, such as black lung, parasites, and severe arthritis among other maladies. But yes, it is clear that Native populations had little resistance to influenza, diptheria, measles, and a variety of other "bugs" which killed them (along with lots of non-natives) enmass.

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