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Roof types included gable and gambrel, depending on location.The gambrel roof was unique to Puget Sound Coast Salish. The front was often very elaborately decorated with an integrated mural of numerous drawings of faces and heraldic crest icons of raven, bear, whale, etc.Usually an extended family occupied one longhouse, and cooperated in obtaining food, building canoes, and other daily tasks.The wealthy built extraordinarily large longhouses, also known as "bighouses." The Suquamish Old Man House, built around 1850 at what became the Port Madison Reservation, and home of Chief Seattle, was 500 feet (150 m) x 40 feet (12 m)–60 feet (18 m).
Longhouses were made from cedar logs or split log frame and covered with split log planks. The roofs were plank-covered, sometimes with an additional bark cover.
Within each house, a particular family had a separate cubicle.
Each family had its own fire, with the families also sharing a communal central fire in the household.
Longhouses are large structures, built with the materials available in the local environment, that can house multiple families (usually related as an extended family), or a single family with their livestock.
Large longhouses can also be used for community gatherings or ceremonies.
Longer than they were wide (hence their English name), the Iroquois longhouses had openings at both ends that served as doors and were covered with animal skins during the winter to keep out the cold.