Ethnography of the Cahuilla Indians, by A. L. Kroeber, , at sacred-texts.com
The houses of the desert Cahuilla remain very much as described by Dr. Barrows. 24 Their appearance and construction
is shown in plate 14. These houses bear some resemblance to the houses of the Colorado river tribes, especially in the upright forked posts supporting the roof beams, and in the character of the thatching. They differ, however, in being but slightly or partially covered with sand or earth. In fact many houses are without any covering other than the brush thatching. In the Mohave house the sides are quite low, and both sides and roof are pretty thoroughly covered with a layer of sticks. The outside layer of brush serves the purpose rather of preventing the thick covering of sand from shifting through the spaces between the wooden framework, than of being a covering in itself. The Cahuilla house is distinctively an airy brush-house, the Mohave structure a heavy close earth-house. The Mohave and Cahuilla resemble each other much more closely in the character and use of their shades or ramadas and wind-breaks, which are usually constructed in front of the entrance to the house.
At the Banning reservation a sweathouse is still in use (Pl. 15). From the outside its appearance is that of a small mound. The ground has been excavated to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half, over a space of about twelve by seven or eight feet. In the center of this area two heavy posts are set up three or four feet apart. These are connected at the top by a log laid in their forks. Upon this log, and in the two forks, are laid some fifty or more logs and sticks of various dimensions, their ends sloping down to the edge of the excavation. It is probable that brush covers these timbers. The whole is thoroughly covered with earth. There is no smoke hole. The entrance is on one of the long sides, directly facing the space between the two center posts and only a few feet from them. The fireplace is between the entrance and the posts. It is just possible to stand upright in the center of the house. This building was said by the old man who owned it to be used only for sweating. Its size, which would prevent any considerable gathering for ceremonial purposes or dances, corroborates his statement. Throughout Southern California, as well as the southern portion of the central region of the state, the use of the sweathouse was confined strictly to this purpose, ceremonies being held either under a simple shade or in a brush enclosure. In most of northern California the so-called
sweathouse is of larger dimensions and was preëminently a ceremonial or assembly chamber.
63:24 Barrows, 35.