Chickees & Tiki Huts

Chickees“Chickee” is the word Seminole Indians used for “house.” Seminole Indian Tribes living in Northern Florida had been well known for having built these log cabin-style structures or  homes they called chickees. The chickee style hut was constructed with a palmetto thatch over a log frame made from cypress trees. The chickee hut was originally built by the Seminoles during the early 1800s when the Seminoles, had been pursued by United States troops, and was in need of shelter that could be easily constructed and quickly disposed of, while on the run. Though many indigenous people in other various parts of North and South America had developed similar places to live, it is typically agreed by historians and experts that the Seminole Indian tribes had far better techniques and used materials native to Florida that proved to be far more superior in quality.

Eventually the Seminole Indians spread throughout Florida. Living in the swampy conditions that existed in the Everglades of south Florida, chickees where an essential part of living. Chickee houses had large posts supporting a palm thatched roof and a flat wooden floor raised anywhere from 3 ft. to 4 ft. from the sometimes swampy ground. Since the Seminoles Indians lived in the tropical climate of Florida it was not necessary for chickees to have protective walls since it rarely gets cold. However, living in the tropical climate of Florida, rain is inevitable, especially during the warm summer months. Seminoles living in chickees would use animal hides or woven cloth material to create a temporary protective layer or tarp to protect them, helping keep them dry during a typical Florida rainstorm. Since the chickees had thick palm thatched roof that had been purposely constructed on a steep slope, this engineering technique was especially helpful in shedding rain during some of the more heavy down pours. Over the years, the Seminole Indians continued to gradually improve their chickees by adding a 2nd level for living, making them two stories high with sleeping and living quarters. Seminoles built their chickees in the swamplands typically in a location that was on higher ground. They also used wood support posts made from cypress trees, these long posts kept the chickees from sinking into the swampy mud and water;  elevating the wood floor of the chickee hut off of the ground also helped protect them from dangerous animals like snakes and other dangerous animals that are native to the swamplands. Since the floor of the chickee hut was elevated off the swamp below, the Seminoles usually had a small wooden step ladder that they used to climb up into the hut.

The chickee hut has changed a little since the early days of the Seminole Indian Tribes, these days it is more commonly referred to as a tiki hut. The Tiki Hut has become very popular in Florida over the years and rather then using it for survival, it tends to be more for entertaining guests. Many home owners and business owners like the simplicity in design, the efficiency, and the overall functionality. The chickee or tiki hut will last several years before needing to be re-thatched and requires little to no maintenance.


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