Jul 152012
 

My wife and I just moved into our dream house in the mountains!  It has taken us eleven years to build it.  Each year we did a project.  For instance, the first year we bought the property and drilled for water.  One year we put in a septic system.  One year we built the garage.  Another year we put in a solar-electric system since the property is too remote to be on the grid!  It has been fun (and sometimes a little trying!) but this year we finished the projects, retired from our jobs and moved in permanently!

What if we were Cherokee and lived 1,000 years ago?  How would we have built our home then?  Here is an excerpt from “The Cherokee People”, by Thomas E. Mails:

“All of the men from a village would gather to build houses. A complete good-sized dwelling could be erected and finished in a day. They would mark the dimensions of the house on the ground, and then the timbers were cut and marked. They used plummet stones suspended on thongs to align the walls. They set strong poles deep in the ground at regular intervals and the poles extended above for six to seven feet. The posts were usually dried locust and sassafras for durability and endurance. The posts were notched at the top and wall plates were laid on top of the notches. A large post, also notched, was set in the center of each gable. The ridgepole, which ran the length of the house, was tied at regular intervals using bark strips or splinters of white oak or hickory. The finishing ceiling consisted of matlike layers of split saplings or bundles consisting of three large winter canes that were tied together place above the rafters or saplings. The roof was then shingled with the bark of pine or cypress.

photo also from: “The Cherokee People”, by Thomas E. Mails – late pre-historic dwelling

“Exterior wall spaces were filled with vertically placed split sticks and poles that were tied together and then strengthened by horizontally placed saplings. These were then plastered both inside and out, with clay tempered grass.

“The windows were a foot square used for ventilation. Doors were of poplar planks covered with straps of shaved and wet buffalo hides, which tightened and strengthened when dry.
Inside the house were little more than stools, storage chests, and three-foot-high broad beds. The beds were made of boards and white-oak foundations and cane-splinter mattresses covered with bear, buffalo, mountain lion, elk and deerskins with fur/hair left on.”

Oh, well!  As I sit on my patio staring across the valley at the beautiful Sangre de Christo mountains while the little Hummingbirds buzz around and the Meadow Larks sing in the distance, I have to wonder if the Cherokee appreciated their “built-in-a-day” house as much as we appreciate ours!

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