Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 57 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.

Another form, scarcely less rude, is sometimes found in localities temporarily occupied for grazing or for horticulture.  It consists of a circle of small branches, sometimes of mere twigs, with the butts stuck into the ground, and not over 2-1/2 or 3 feet high.  The circle is broken by a narrow entrance way on one side.  This form of shelter, hardly as high as a man’s waist, does little more than mark the place where a family have thrown down their blankets and other belongings, but it may afford some protection against drifting sand.  Shelters of this type are occupied several months at a time.  They are often seen on the sandy bottom lands of Canyon Chelly and in other regions of like character, and the same sites are sometimes occupied several years in succession.

From these rude makeshift types there is an unbroken range up to the standard winter hut, which also meets the requirements of a summer house, being as comfortable in warm weather as it is in cold weather.  The kind of house which a man builds depends almost entirely on the purposes which it is to serve and very little on the man or his circumstances.  The houses of the richest man in the tribe and of the poorest would be identical unless, as often happens in modern times, the former has a desire to imitate the whites and builds a regular house of stone or logs.  If, however, a man builds a summer place to which he intends to return year after year, and such is the usual custom, he usually erects a fairly substantial structure, a kind of half hogan, or house with the front part omitted.  If it is possible to do so he locates this shelter on a low hill overlooking the fields which he cultivates.  The restriction which requires that the opening or doorway of a regular hogan shall invariably face the east does not apply to these shelters; they face in any direction, but usually they are so placed as to face away from the prevailing wind, and, if possible, toward the fields or farms.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 233—­Ground plan of a summer shelter]

Figure 233 is a ground plan of a shelter of this type, which is shown also in plate LXXXV.  The effect is that of a half hogan of the regular type, but with a short upright timber in place of the usual north piece.  The example shown is built on a somewhat sloping site, and the ground inside has been slightly excavated, but on the front the floor reaches the general level of the ground.  The principal timbers are forked together at the apex, but not strictly according to rule.  The structure is also covered with earth in the regular way, and altogether appears to occupy an intermediate position between the summer shelter and the winter hut.  It is a type which is common in the mountain districts and in those places where a semipermanent shelter is needed, and to which the family returns year after year.

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Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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