Traditional dwellings

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I cannot say that I am still using the lodgings of the past. Only when I was living up north, in the 1960’s, 50’s, when living in the trap lines, I lived in the traditional lodgings We used to built log houses and we only lived in them. I only used the moss hut a few times. I can say that I only stayed in the moss hut twice. We always lived in the log house. My father, brothers and sisters lived in the log house. Other families that lived in the area would also live in log houses. Perhaps people would continue to live in those traditional lodgings if they continued to pursue the traditional lifestyle but no one lives that way anymore. For instance, there is a family that lives out in “Keashkonee” about two years now, and they live in a log home. These log houses are better in the forest for our generation. Long ago, our ancestors did not use log houses. They used wigwams and canvas cloth was introduced and people built wigwams using canvass. Also, moss huts were used by our ancestors. There used to be groups or a community of people. “Asithokan” is an old Cree Cree word meaning a collection of families living together. They also build two large wigwams connected together by a passage way. Many families lived in these large wigwams, about 5 families. Families lived in the main wigwams and the youth were taught traditional teachings, survival and hunting skills in the connecting passage way. So I mentioned the community with its large wigwams, moss hut, and wood wigwams which were sometimes built. We never used these wood wigwams. Now, canvas tents were introduced when I was growing up. The canvas tent was also used in on journeys. Today, as for modern housing, many elders who had lived in moss huts, and wigwams find them too airtight. Some elders have found it difficult to live inside a house finding that they can’t breathe properly. They would prefer to live in a wigwam or canvas tent. They also say that the house is too hot. When you go out from the hot indoors, the sudden temperature change that your body experiences makes you sick. One is always ill. These are the opinions of the elders about the new housing. There seems to be sicknesses illnesses derived from the exposure to regular, constant heating. Our homes are heated throughout the night by electricity. We did not have heating like this with lodgings dwellings long ago. You only had heating during the day. After supper, or when the fire goes went out, there was no heating, also when people went to sleep. Only the next morning do we see the fire again. Someone in the morning gets up to make a fire and heat up the house. Now, throughout the night there is heating and my college colleague says he doesn’t use his blankets because it’s hot. Sometimes, I do that too: because my house is too hot, I don’t use blankets. With electric heating, the house is always hot, and if someone goes out, they get sick from a sudden change in temperature. That is the experience from the new housing. This is my experience with new housing. However, the houses are nice; my house is pretty nice.


Traditional dwellings by Emile Sutherland


Lodging traditional moss hut log house large wigwam canvas Asithokan families tents house sickness heating

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