What Kind of Homes Did the Apaches Live in?

by Chris Deziel
Wikiups provided shade in summer and insulation in winter.

Wikiups provided shade in summer and insulation in winter.

The traditional lands of the Apache people comprise the American Southwest from the edge of the Great Plains to western Arizona. Those who lived close to the plains lived in tipis, and those in the desert lived in wikiups. Because Apaches were nomadic, both types of structures were easy to erect.

Tipis of the Plains Apaches

The Jicarilla, Kiowa-Apache and some Chiricahua tribes lived near the plains and relied to a great extent on bison, so they had to be ready to move in order to follow the herds. They constructed tipis by erecting long poles to form a conical shape and covering them with buffalo hide. These were easy to take down and transport. A tipi was tall and open at the top, so it was possible to build a fire inside in order to stay warm.

Wikiups for the Desert

The tribes that lived in the desert, including the Mescalero and Lipan tribes, were also nomadic, but they didn't move as frequently, so their structures, called wikiups, weren't movable. The people made them by digging a pit in the ground and erecting a domed structure over it with branches and twigs. In the summer, when people needed ventilation and shade, they covered the dome with brush and leaves that they collected from the immediate environment. In the winter, they fortified the covering with buffalo hides to protect them from the cold.

About the Author

A love of fundamental mysteries led Chris Deziel to obtain a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. A prolific carpenter, home renovator and furniture restorer, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.

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