American Indian culture
"Barabara" is the name of the traditional house style of the Aleut and Yup'ik tribes.
This is not actually an Aleut or Yup'ik word-- it comes from an indigenous Siberian word for "house"
and was used by Russian explorers to refer to any kind of native home.
Aleut people called their homes ulax in their own language.
They are also known as "earth lodges" or "hill houses" in English. Other Alaskan Natives,
particularly the Alutiiq and some Inupiaq groups, lived in the same style of homes,
but never adopted this Russian name for them.
Barabaras were semi-subterranean dwellings, made by digging an underground chamber and then erecting a wooden or whalebone frame
over it. The barabara frame would be covered with woven grass mats and then packed with layers of earth and sod to insulate it.
Here is a picture of a barabara.
Because these buildings were partially underground, they were larger than they appeared. There were multiple rooms in a barabara, and each one
provided shelter to several families from the same clan.
Here are links to our webpages about the Aleut tribe and language:
Eskimo-Aleut language family
Alaska Native tribes
Here are links to more Internet resources about barabaras:
Cultural Change: The Barabara
And here are a few good books about the Aleuts:
Aleut Identities: Tradition and Modernity
Aleut Tales and Narratives
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