CHEROKEE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - With a 25 foot diameter, the newly completed grass house at the Caddo mounds Historical site gives visitors a chance to see something that has not been on the sacred grounds since 1995.
The house was finished last week and is now available for guest to view and walk in while on tour. The addition is one that staff have been looking at for a while.
"There was a house on this site from 1981 to 1996," site manager Anthony Souther said. "Due to it becoming unsafe it was burnt ceremoniously with several Caddo Indians coming back. Another was poorly built that was here for about two years. I really wanted one back. When I was interviewed for the job here I was asked what I wanted to do to make it a better place and I said I wanted to bring back the grass house."
Souther said after he was hired, he started doing research.
"I located switch grass," Souther said. "I started locating pine poles and materials to build them with but it wasn't until The Friends of Caddo Mounds' got together to make it a fundraising project that we really got going.
To make the house as authentic as possible the workers used only material that would have been used on the houses that were populating East Texas, south east Oklahoma, south western Oklahoma and north eastern Louisianan as early as 1,200 years ago.
"We did not use anything outside of natural materials," Souther said. "Fibers switch grass. We used Pine poles for the uprights. Willow poles were used for the horizontal lathing that the thatch was laid onto and tied to. The only exception was we used modern tools and safety devices to speed up the process."
Souther hopes the addition of the house to the three mounds on the site and the interactive exhibit will bring more education to people about the earliest settlers of the Pineywoods.
"It's an increased or greater interpretative opportunity for me to be able to try and communicate to the visiting public what the Caddo life could have been like when they were here," Souther said.