Longhouse Structures

​By Jamie Valadez and Carmen Watson-Charles​

There were possibly eight house structures found at the č̕ixʷícən village site. Erna Gunther, the anthropologist who wrote extensively about the Klallams in her publication, Klallam Ethnography, describes the house structures.

The homes were built in a single row, and with the door facing the water. A potlatch house may be 50 by 200 feet in size. The family dwellings were 20 by 30 feet. All the houses had gabled roofs, with the exception of the potlatch house.

The houses are made of wooden planks. The edges of the planks are grooved so that they overlap when placed side by side. When the planks are set in the ground, the side walls are about twelve feet high.

On the inside, a few planks are always left loose so as to be moved to leave smoke holes. There are benches that run along the majority of the house walls, leaving one wall for piled firewood. The benches are five feet wide and about two and one-half feet high. Underneath them are stored baskets with dried foods, paddles, boxes of clothing and household effects. The benches are covered with rush mats which serve as beds.

The walls are also covered with rush mats. These reach from the roof to the floor, passing behind the benches.

When there is a severe storm, mats are hung at both sides of the door to keep the wind from blowing into the house. The floor is just the hard trodden ground which is occasionally sprinkled with sand.

The fires may be anywhere in the house. If there are only two, they are likely to be along the center under the ridgepole. Sometimes they are in the corners near the benches, especially when there are two or more families living in the house.

The house is owned by the person who builds it and is inherited by the eldest son of the owner. When the house is owned by two or more people, their parts are inherited in the same manner in which the whole house would be passed on.

The land on which a house stands belongs to the owner of the house only as long as his house remains standing.

Since villages situated on the beach are open to attack, stockades were frequently used in this area. The village was generally compact enough so that not a very large area needed to be surrounded.