Throughout the Southeast, Native Americans used the same materials, wood, mud, and dried grass, to build their houses. The type of dwelling, however, varied from tribe to tribe depending on the environment.
Tribes such as the Choctaw and Cherokee lived in areas that were very hot in the summer, but that could be cold and snowy during the short winter. These groups built two different houses, one for the hot weather and one for the cold.
Their cone-shaped winter houses were made from a frame of wood and insulated with clay and mud. Their summer dwellings were rectangular wooden structures with gabled roofs of grass left open on the sides to allow air to circulate.
In hotter climates farther south, tribes such as the Seminole of Florida spent all year long in chickees. These were simple wooden houses with floors built several feet above the ground to protect the residents from snakes and swamp waters. Chickees had roofs made from the leaves of the palmetto tree, but they had no walls at all. Sitting in a chickee, a family was shaded from the hot sun but could still feel a cooling breeze.
The homes of all southeastern Native Americans were made of wood, mud, and grass.
However, the chickee, a house with open sides and a floor built several feet above the earth, was uniquely suited to the hot and swampy region where the Seminole lived.