Earth Lodge Design and Construction
Responsible for the construction of the lodge and several families shared the home. One multi-family lodge might house thirty to fifty people. Beds were placed around the walls as were various storage areas. Food storage pits were dug into the floor. The central area was for cooking of meals and also served as the sleeping place for young men. The large supporting tree trunks or posts halfway between the outside walls and the fireplace were often painted the colors of the semi-cardinal directions.
Upon the altar to the West lay a buffalo skull and above it hung a long-shaped buckskin bundle. The contents of the sacred bundle were known only to the priest. Sometimes pip-stems, slender sticks and ears of corn might protrude from the bundle. Between the fireplace and the buffalo altar was an invisible sacred spot on which no one was to step. This spot was called the Wi-Karu, meaning “Place for the wonderful
The essential layout of the lodge is extremely old and wide spread. It is the pattern of the Eskimo Igloo , of the Kiva of the southwest, and of structures of Siberia. A constant current of air moved through the vestibule to the fire; where, being warmed, it rose through the smoke hole. The outgoing warm air drew in more fresh air.
The Pawnee lodge was the physical form of his beliefs. The house was a microcosm of the universe and as one was a home inside, one was also at home in the outside world. The dome of the sky was the high-arching roof of the universe and the horizon all around was the circular wall of the cosmic house. Through the smoke hole of the house, the Star Gods poured down their strength from their appropriate directions in a constant stream. In the west was the evening star, a beautiful woman, goddess of night and germination in her garden, the corn and buffalo were constantly being renewed so that the people could eat in the western part of the house, the sacred buffalo skull and the bundle with it sacred ears of corn symbolized this power. In the eastern sky was the morning star—God of light, of fire, and of war. As he arose every morning he sent his beam into the long entryway of the house and lit the fire in an act of cosmic procreation.
Location. 40° 52.876′ N, 98°
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Pawnee: Prairie Town Builders, Pawnee History (here, next to this marker); Old California Overland Trail (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mormon Trail (about 700 feet away); La Grande Isle (approx. 1.6 miles away); Original Home of the Stolley Family (approx. 1.6 miles away); Oldest Remaining School House (approx. 1.6 miles away); Grand Island Public School Bell (approx. 3.2 miles away); Pioneer Park (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grand Island.
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 29, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,023 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 29, 2011, by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.