A council fire is a ceremonial fire that is kept burning when the natives meet to formally discuss matters of importance. No negotiations or council meeting would be imaginable to the Liranequois without a fire. The council fire has immense societal value to the First Nations of Everique. The flames symbolize the community and coming together for a common cause. It is customary for each of the participants in a council to bring a stick that is added to the fire. When the council is complete, the council fire is extinguished.
A longhouse serves as the home for a clan in a Liranequois town. The impact of the longhouse on the Liranequois cannot be overstated. The longhouse is the center of family and community life. Even the structure of the Liranequois Confederation is likened to that of a longhouse, with the five nations playing the role of the families housed within it. Because membership in a clan is determined matrilineally, women manage all the affairs of the longhouse, including the distribution of food and who will represent the clan as the sachem.
The longhouse is a long, rectangular building with an arched roof that is the home to the Liranequois clans. It is constructed with a framework of wooden poles. Some are stiff and strong to support the weight of the longhouse while others are flexible to form the arched roof. Branches are lashed to the poles with strips of bark that the Liranequois have braided into rope. A layer of bark (preferably elm) is woven through the branches and poles to create a mostly weatherproof wall. All of this is constructed without a single nail and using materials readily found in the forests of northeastern Everique.
The size of a longhouse varies, sometimes reaching more than 100 meters. They are narrow structures, ranging from 5 to 10 meters in width. Doors are cut at each end of the long house and covered with animal hides to preserve heat. Inside the longhouse, the walls are lined with two shelves. Possessions of the family are kept on the upper shelf. The Liranequois sleep on the lower shelf, which is lined with furs and blankets. The space under the bottom shelf is used to store firewood. Food is hung from the rafters or kept in holes dug into the ground. Fire pits are dug in the center with an opening in the roof to allow smoke to escape. A sheet of bark can be extended over the hole during bad weather. Without windows and with only two doors, it is dark in the longhouse. It is traditional for each longhouse to have five compartments. Each compartment is the home for one extended family, all of whom are all part of the same clan. The symbol of the clan is often used to decorate the longhouse, including a totem over the door.
The Liranequois live together in longhouses, so when one of their number become sick -- whether due to an imbalance of humors or a malignant spirit -- the sick member must be isolated from the community. Medicine lodges are small structures separate from the rest of the settlement. These small, domed structures are constructed out of bent aspen or willow and covered in bark with a smoke hole left in the top. The entrance always faces the east and the rising sun. The doorway is covered by hides or sometimes wool blankets. Those staying in the medicine lodge are tended by the Wisdoms and their helpers, who carry medicine pouches that protect them from any malignant spirits.« Return to the Almanac Index