Analyze the reasons why the types of shelters built by Native American tribes differed from one another.

The map below shows the different types of housing used by Native Americans.

Native American shelters can be broken down into several different categories.   Some shelters were permanent and some were only temporary.   A tipi [tepee] is an example of a temporary shelter.   Tribes that used tepees or wigwams were nomadic, always moving in search of food.   Tepees were mainly used by tribes on the Great Plains because they had to follow their food source, the buffalo.   Tepees were made of buffalo hide and sticks; they could easily be put up, taken down, and transported to the next place.   Wigwams are like tepees.  They are made of sticks and blankets or woven mats.

Housing can also be separated by whether it was used for a single family or by large groups.    Most of the temporary housing was for single families; the smaller it was, the easier it was to carry.   In areas like the Great Basin, near Utah, tribes were small and there were more small wigwams [left] or even pits dug in the ground and covered with mats.    Many tribes built huge structures to house several families that were related to each other [these related families were called clans].   The most famous of these large structures were the longhouses [right] of the Iroquois.   They lived in the Northeast and made their houses out of trees and bark.   They even called themselves the "house builders."   The wealthy tribes of the Pacific Northwest built huge lodges as well {see below}

Finally houses can be classified as either simple or complex.  A tepee, wigwam, or a pit dug into the ground is relatively simple.   The earthen lodges of the Mandan  [left] are more complex.   Although they are built out of dirt or sod, they had to use some architectural skills or else the house would fall in on the people.   The longhouses of the Iroquois require still more skill to make.   In the Southwest, the Anazazi and Hopi built huge apartment housing on the top of mesas or on the sides of cliffs.   These were built out of adobe [sun-dried bricks of mud and straw] because there were few trees.   The most complex housing were built by the Aztecs and Mayas.   The Aztecs built their capital city, Tenochtitlan [below left], on a lake.   The Maya and Inca [below right] carved huge stones to fit perfectly in place, with no mortar to keep them from falling down.    Each Native American tribe used the natural resources around them to build the type of housing that best suited their needs.

Plank house of Pacific Northwest