Living in Grass Houses

working to build a Caddo house
Caddo villagers worked together as a team to build their tall, sturdy, dome-shaped grass houses. Painting by Nola Davis, courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
hammer and nails
Caddo workers did not have handy metal tools such as hammers, nails, or axes.

ancient tools
The Caddo made stone tools such as these axe heads or "celts" and attached them to wooden handles for many wood-working tasks.

beehive-shaped house
A dome-shaped grass house.

For hundreds of years, the Caddo Indians built huge dome-shaped houses, temples, and other structures without using modern equipment or tools!

They had no chainsaws or metal axes to cut down the tall pine trees from the forests. They had no metal hammers and nails to join the pieces of their houses together. They had no aluminum ladders, hard hats, or other safety equipment that construction workers use today.

Yet the Caddo were able to build tall, dome-shaped grass houses, some large enough for 30 people to live in! Amazingly, they built each house in a single day by working together—everybody in the village pitched in to help.

The grass houses were sturdy and dry. They were also cool in the summer and usually warm enough in the winter (they built a small fire in the center). The Caddo people who lived further north in Oklahoma and Arkansas sometimes built winter houses with pole walls covered with a thick layer of clay to help keep out the cold winds.

Today, we can learn how the Caddo built their houses by reading the eyewitness accounts of Spanish and French explorers. They traveled through Caddo villages 300-400 years ago in what is now East Texas.

Do you think you could build a Caddo-style house today?

Click on each picture below to learn more!


Through the Eyes of the Explorers


Step Inside a Caddo House


Building a Grass House Today

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