First Nations Builders

The natives of the northwest coast of North America are referred to as First Nations people. In Builders of the Pacific Coast, we have a 12-page section, with 30 vintage photographs of their buildings and totem poles, as well as drawings showing how they raised the huge poles and beams of their remarkable longhouses. (A Salish building discovered by Capt. George Vancouver in 1792 was over 1000 feet long.)

Haida man standing in front of a six-beam Haida house at Haina, Haida Gwaii (formerly called Queen Charlotte Islands), 1888. Note the immaculate carpentry.

Kwakiutl (Kwagiulth) House frame of relatively recent times (note milled wallboards)

From the wonderful book, Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians, Copyright 1984 By Hilary Stewart, Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto

Rear totem of the Raven House at Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, Shows (from top) Raven flanked by two frogs, a human figure and the Thunderbird.

Interior post from the caps on big house of Yestaquana at Skidegate, Haida Gwaii. The post, originally painted black, red, white, and blue, stood at the rear of the house, aligned with the front door.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

One Response to First Nations Builders

  1. it is amazing how these uncivilized cultures got along without us for all those years. No money, no real culture or history or material wealth and for 50 thousand years they never despoiled or polluted their environments .. it only took us a hundred and fifty years to teach them how.

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