Tanaina - Settlements



Tanaina villages were located on or near streams and rivers with salmon runs. There were usually at least two lineage houses in a settlement and frequently ten or more. During periods of conflict, a village might be hidden in the woods to guard against attack from enemies. A village population ranged from around fifty to one hundred or more. In spring and summer, people moved into smaller camps—groups of small nuclear or extended family houses or skin tents either at a lake mouth or spread out along a lake or river shore to facilitate salmon fishing. In late prehistoric and historic times Winter houses were semisubterranean (up to about three feet deep), lineage-owned structures. There was one large room about twenty feet square with a central fireplace. Each Nuclear family had a small compartment for sleeping, and rooms might be attached as sweatlodges or menstrual huts. Summer houses at fish camps and in hunting areas were small, wood, above-ground houses or skin tents for one or two nuclear families. During the second half of the nineteenth century, houses began to be constructed above ground in log-cabin style, and at summer fishing camps commercial canvas tents were often used. Some Tanaina, particularly those in interior villages, continue today to move to "fish camp" in the Summer. Winter houses today are of a small European style and usually made of milled lumber with wood floors.


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