Housing has changed

Not so long ago people lived in teepees made of at least 45 caribou hides stitched together by sinew derived from the back strap of a caribou. The teepee provided shelter in the winter, not toasty warm, just enough to relax and have a good sleep with blankets and clothing made from the caribou. When the main source of food, the caribou, moved on, the teepee was folded and transported to the next encampment.

Although the teepee was mobile, it was still very much a home with an open fire in the center. The placement by family members in the tent was determined by a pecking order and rearranged over time. Everyone contributed in some way to make the household functional. When it came time for bed, the floor of the teepee was pretty tight. The teepee has an opening for the smoke from the fire to exit on the top where the poles come together, so the air was always fresh and constantly moving.

When the people were introduced to the fur trade, new tools allowed more people to stay in cabins year round. The new shelters were modelled after cabins observed at the time of the initial trade. The cabins had a fireplace made of rocks and held firm by clay. The cabins were not as airy as the teepee, so airborne sickness spread easily, especially when there were many people occupying the cabin.

Publication Date: 
December 5, 2011
Journal Name: 
Northern News Services
NT, Canada