This life-size diorama is a reproduction of a slab-lined pithouse, the most common house type encountered in the archaeological record of the Fremont culture. A shallow pit was lined with stone and covered with a wood and mud superstructure. This type of semi-subterranean structure would provide a sheltered space that was easier to heat in the winter and kept cooler in the summer. These pithouses are generally found in small hamlets of two to ten households on high ground overlooking floodplains. The Fremont in this area were heavily invested in maize agriculture along these floodplains.
The interior of the pithouse details many aspects of Fremont daily life with replicas based on archaeological artifacts. The pithouse was more than just a place to sleep out of the elements. It was the site of religious ritual, tool storage, food storage, and the center of a Fremont family’s life. The woman is grinding maize and preparing a meal for the members of the household. The man is putting together a medicine bundle, perhaps for a journey or a hunt.
The reproduction is based on the 1936 excavation of Valley Village in Nine Mile Canyon by John P. Gillen.