Lesson 2: Villages

Lesson 1
The Land
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Hunting &

Lesson 5
Clothing & Appearance
Lesson 6
Ceremonies & Beliefs
Lesson 7
Leadership & Trading
Lesson 8
Final Project

Student Guide


Read the information about Villages

Look at all pictures on this page.
Be sure to click on any links or words that are underlined.

Find the answers to the following research questions.
Write your answers on
Student Worksheet 2

1. How many people lived in a village?

2. Where were villages built?

3. What natural materials were the houses made of?

4. List the steps for building a house.

5. What did the inside of the houses look like?


Extend your thinking! Click on
the activity below:
Compare a Tule House to Your Home




Bay Miwok villages were small, consisting of 70 - 200 natives. The villages were built next to streams and creeks of the Mt. Diablo foothills so that fresh water was nearby. Some tribelets lived their permanently and some set up temporary villages on Mt. Diablo only during the harvest season.

Houses in a village were placed in groups around a large open space. This open space was used for tribal ceremonies and gatherings.

The Bay Miwok lived in round dome shaped structures called tule houses. These houses were built from the natural materials of the land - tules and willow branches. They ranged in size from six to twenty feet wide. Because of their size, an entire family of several generations lived in one house. The chief of the village always had the largest house.

Home building started with digging a round shallow hole. The frame of the house was built by sticking long willow branches in the ground around the edge of the hole leaning toward the center. Walls were formed by weaving vines and twigs through the willow branches. The willow frame was covered with tule bundles, leaving a small hole at the top to let out smoke. In the winter, mud was plastered on the outside to make it warmer and more waterproof. The doorway opening was low and faced away from the usual direction of the wind.

In the center of the tule house was the fire pit. In a corner baskets filled with dried meat and fish were stored. Stacked near the door were baskets that were used for other purposes. On the floor lay blankets of deer skin, bear skin, woven rabbit skin and mats of tules.

Houses were made rather quickly, so when they got dirty or needed repair, they were burned to the ground and another one was built.


These are tules growing in a marsh. Tules were used in making the walls of a hut

Miwok villages were built near bays or creeks so that they could easily obtain food and water

Visit this site to see photos of a tule house being built
Tules Houses

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