Wichita Grass Houses

In 1849, United States Army Lt. Randolph Marcy was charged with exploring and documenting then unmapped parts of Texas and what would become Oklahoma. In his travels, Marcy came upon a Wichita tribal village near the big spring in what is now Rush Springs. Less than 15 miles from Alex, this village was comprised of around 100 of what were known as Wichita circular “grass houses” located close to the fields of squash, watermelons and corn cultivated by the tribe. The early literature contains a few sketches of the distinctive Wichita Grass House.

On my way to Binger a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see a traditional structure being built just across the highway from the Riverside Indian School and the Wichita tribal headquarters. The structure was barely half finished but it was clear that it would be a traditional Wichita Grass House.

Driving through the area on October 16, 2016, I saw the Grass House had been completed. I stopped and walked through it, fining it very impressive. It stands next to what will soon be a historical center recounting Wichita history.

Before 1871, we can place the Wichita tribe just a bit south of Bradley and later near Verden. They were certainly travelers along the Fort Cobb Trail.

  1 comment for “Wichita Grass Houses

  1. Joel Ratliff
    March 8, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you for posting this wonderful update. I live in California and am researching traditional native american architecture. It’s great to know that the tribe is still building them and this knowledge will be passed on to this next generation. Great photo btw!

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