Jump to Navigation

Puzzles From the Past Traveling Resource Trunk

Using this trunk to study shelter:

This trunk contains materials related to the Wichita grass house and the Pawnee earth lodge. The grass house and the earth lodge are both built in the shape of a circle and are made of materials found in nature. They both have:

  • a door
  • a smoke hole
  • beds
  • a place in the center for a fire

Wichita Grass House

This trunk contains a number of items that can be used to teach about Wichita grass houses. Lesson 2 will provide you with additional information on how these pieces relate to each other.

Trunk Images and Objects Useful in teaching about the Wichita:
(More detailed information can be found on the back of the images or on object cards or stratigraphy cards for the objects.)

  • Graphic 2 - Wichita Grass House Posthole Pattern - This piece shows three line drawings - archeological features that remain where a grass house once stood, the pole framwork of the house, and women attaching prairie grass to the pole frame.
  • Graphic 3 - Wichita Grass Houses - This is a historic sketch of a village showing a number of grass houses with gardens in the foreground.
  • Graphic 4 - Wichita Grass Homestead - This photo shows traditional grass houses and arbors of a Wichita homestead.
  • Grassing Needle - Used to sew prairie grass onto the pole frame of a grass house.
  • Ground Cloth/Footprint - This is a ½ size footprint of a Wichita grass house excavation site. It shows the location of poles from the house's frame and the location of the hearth, storage pit, and midden (trash pit). The cloth also has labeled places for several objects to be laid such as the scapula, digging stick tip, partial ceramic pot, pottery sherd, stone scraper, bone fragments, and arrow point.
  • Bison Scapula Hoe Blade - Used as a hoe for cultivating crops and for other times when a tool was need to loosen soil
  • Bone Digging Stick Tip - Used to loosen soil for gardening or other tasks such as building a home.

The following pieces have locations on the ground cloth/footprint labeled for their placement and so are included in for a study on housing.

  • Pottery Sherd - Different groups used different symbols or decorations on their pottery. This sherd represents an important tool for identifying Native Americans who lived here long ago.
  • Partial Ceramic Pot - The people living in this house had ceramic containers. They would make the job of carrying and storing water easier than it was for people who did not possess pottery.
  • Stone Scraper - Used to clean plant and animal materials. It would have been a common piece in Wichita homes.
  • Stone Arrow Point - Used for hunting with a bow and arrow.
  • Bone Fragments - Evidence of a lifestyle where food was not expendable. Nutrition was taken from every source available, including the marrow of bones.

The Wichita once lived in villages of grass houses. They built their homes from the tall, long grasses on the Kansas prairie. Some prairie grasses grow 5 to 8 feet tall. The whole family worked together to collect the wood and grass needed for the house. They first built a frame out of wooden poles. Bone needles and heavy cord were used to sew grasses onto this frame. The finished house had a central fire pit for heat. A hole in the ceiling let out smoke. Beds were built around the inside walls.

The Wichita had permanent villages where they built homes, grew crops, and preserved and stored food. A village might contain as many as 200 or more grass houses. Ten or more relatives lived in each home. Villages were usually built near a river or creek to provide water for people and crops.

During the late fall and winter the Wichita left their villages for extended periods of time to hunt bison. They lived in tipis while following the bison herds and hunting, but they returned home to their villages after the hunting season ended.

 

Pawnee Earth Lodge

This trunk contains a number of items that can be used to teach about Pawnee earth lodges. Lesson 5 will provide you with additional information on how these pieces relate to each other.

Trunk Images and Objects Useful in teaching about the Pawnee:
(More detailed information can be found on the back of the images or on object cards or stratigraphy cards for the objects.)

  • Graphic 12 - Sketch of a Pawnee village near a river.
  • Bison Scapula Hoe Blade - Used as a hoe for cultivating crops and for other times when a tool was needed to loosen soil.
  • Bone Digging Stick Tip - Used to loosen soil for gardening or other tasks such as building a home.

The Pawnee lived in earth lodges and tipis in the past. They built permanent round earth homes that were warm and waterproof. First, they dug a circle in the ground nearly as big as a baseball diamond. Over this circle they built a dome from cottonwood poles. Next, they laid prairie grass over the wooden poles and covered them with earth. Inside the earth lodge was a fire pit. A hole in the top let out smoke from the fire.

Each summer and winter the Pawnee left their earth lodges to hunt bison. During the hunt they lived in tipis made from buffalo hides. Tipis could be moved from place to place as the group followed the herds.

Once the hunt was finished the Pawnee returned home to their villages. The village was where they built permanent homes, grew crops, and preserved and stored food. Villages were usually built near a river or creek to provide water for people and crops.

Return to Puzzles From the Past:  Problem Solving Through Archeology