By Emory Dean Keoke, Kay Marie Porterfield
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Extra info for Buildings, Clothing, And Art (American Indian Contributions to the World)
Old people and men of high honor slept closest to the fire in the earth lodge. Everyone else slept in beds that were arranged around the perimeter of the circle. Often these beds were made as platforms with tall posts, like a four-poster bed. The Indians spread three or four hides over the platform to make a compartment that was warm and private. People who lived in earth lodges made pillows from hides that they stuffed with antelope or buffalo fur. The Pawnee, Omaha, Ponca, and Otoe, who lived in what are now Kansas and Nebraska, also built earth lodges.
The builders joined these posts with crossbeams made from more logs that had been stripped. They used strong mortise-and-tenon joints to connect the logs to support the weight of the earth that would be heaped on the roof. Next they circled this basic frame with a wider ring of 12 posts and crossbeams. Finally they positioned rafters that radiated from the central support to the outer ring like the spokes of a wheel. These rafters supported the roof of the earth lodge. When the builders had finished the basic frame, they covered it with slanting posts of split planks called puncheons.
To put the cover onto the tipi, they tied the middle of the flat edge to a lifting pole and raised it into position at the back of the tipi. Next they pulled the corners of the semicircle toward the door. After they had smoothed the cover over the tipi frame, they held it together with long wooden pegs. Finally, the women placed stones around the edges of the covering to keep it in place. Today archaeologists study these circular arrangements of stones, called tipi rings, to learn more about where Plains Indians traveled and hunted.