Page:The American Indian.djvu/156

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112
THE AMERICAN INDIAN

on timber is too scarce. Stone houses were noted by Stefánsson near Coronation Gulf, and their distribution from that point eastward seems to be continuous. Their roofs are usually of skins, often supported by whale ribs. The snowhouse we all know so well is universal from east to west as a temporary residence, which in summer gives way to a small skin tent. Its long, low, tunnel-like entrance and internal arrangement is the same as that for the earth-covered type of Alaska, and both together may be regarded as revealing the characteristic Eskimo house concept.

Jochelson[1] has brought together some data for a historical connection between the earth-covered houses of the Old and New Worlds. While it is clear that examples of such dwellings are found intermittently from Europe, across Asia, to America, we do not find the definite structural parallels necessary to form satisfactory conclusions regarding their historical relations. Archæological work has brought to light a somewhat more extensive distribution of such houses in America. Numerous depressions in the upper half of the Ohio Valley have been regarded as old house sites and recently Sterns[2] located rectangular house pits in Nebraska, but, except in the last case, our knowledge is not definite, and the very perishable nature of the structures so far observed makes further discovery extremely difficult.

In conclusion, attention may be called to one peculiarity of aboriginal house construction. The chimney was unknown. Not even the skilled architects of Mexico and Peru seemed to have hit upon the idea. It is true that in the historic pueblos they are found, but this is generally attributed to Spanish influence. In the older type of pueblo structure only the rooms having open roofs were used as living quarters. Hence, the universal American way of heating a house is by an open hearth at the center with a hole in the roof immediately above.

Fortifications may also be considered under the general head of architecture. At the time of discovery the native villages in the southern half of the eastern maize area were circled by palisades. In the north, the Iroquois possessed such

  1. Jochelson, 1908. I.
  2. Sterns, 1915. I.