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How many people lived in one house?

An average size longhouse was too big for one family to live in. There were usually two families that shared each fire in the longhouse. The longhouse in the pictures has three fires, so six families could have lived here. All the families that lived in the longhouse were related to each other, they were all part of a clan. This means that everyone in the longhouse shared ancestors. It would be like living with all your aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Haida people also lived in large houses that could hold many people. The families that lived in the house were also part of a clan. There was usually only one fire in the center of the house, but there were several families that shared it.

Igloos were quite small compared to longhouses and Haida houses. There was usually only one living in the igloo. Igloos were very quick to build and were also used for hunting and fishing trips as well as living.

What kinds of things would have led to more people living in the house? What about less people?

There were many reasons for more people to move into the house. Maybe there were visitors from another tribe who needed a place to stay. Maybe more people were moving into the area because times were good and there was more food. Perhaps many more children were born. Maybe there was a fire or another kind of disaster and some of the other houses in the village were damaged. If that happened maybe every longhouse would have had to take in a family until the damaged houses were rebuilt.

If there were less people living in the house, maybe some of them had to move because there was not enough food to go around. This is called a famine. Another reason that there may have been less people living in the house might be an epidemic. An epidemic is something that causes a lot of people to get sick and even die.

What kinds of things did they do inside their houses?

When they were in their houses, the Huron and the Haida cooked their food over the fire. They slept on platforms attached to the walls of the house. They also played games and danced. People might make tools from stone, bone or wood. They might sew clothing from hides and furs and make pottery and baskets. Some of the houses were used as a place for all the people of the village to meet, to talk and to feast . These houses were usually the biggest ones in the whole village.

The Eastern Woodlands and the Northwest Coast had a milder climate, so the people were able to spend more time outside. Haida houses and Huron longhouses also had much more space inside for people to move around.

In the Arctic, the Inuit had to deal with a very harsh environment. They needed to keep up their strength if they were stuck inside during winter storms. It was also necessary to keep from becoming bored. Staring at the same walls made of ice and snow all day could definitely be boring. The games they played had to be ones that could be played in small spaces. In the winter, even if they could tolerate the freezing temperatures, they did not go outside for very long because there was not a lot of daylight. North of the arctic circle there is no daylight at all during parts of the winter.