The Native American Teepee

The Native American Teepee

 The Native American teepee is one of the largest stereotypically associated symbols with the first nations or Native American people. There are different ways spell teepee, some use tipi, or tepee – however nowadays the word is used commonly in phrases to associate and describe the nomadic tribe people of the Great Plains – or just Native people in general. Traditionally, the teepee was made out of animal skins, and wooden poles – and was used as a shelter to keep warm and protect your tribe from the outside elements.


Teepee Construction

A traditionally made teepee is very durable, provides warmth and comfort in the winter, provides cool and shade from the sun in the summer, and keeps you dry when it rains. The construction of the teepee was designed for quick assembly and disassembly when the tribe decided to relocate to another area. The nomadic tribe, located in the Great Plains, were known for a lifestyle of travelling with their tribe around the land, and created the teepee to their accompany that way of life.


Where does the name ‘Teepee’ come from? 

Teepee, or tipi, comes from the Lakota word thipi, which in English means “a dwelling” or “they dwell”. Other names exist for homes or dwellings that represent different structures that were made for similar purposes for First Nations people. The wigwam, made primarily of wood, was used to shelter Native American people among other tribes when hunting for survival.


Teepee’s of Today

The modern day teepee’s are usually covered with canvas instead of authentic hides. Today, teepee’s are used to display and share the culture of Aboriginal people, while some use them when participating in pow wow’s as an alternative to a tent.


Staying Warm in a Teepee 

A small fire can be set in the center of the floor for heat and cooking. The smoke would exit the top of the tipi which is guarded by two adjustable smoke flaps set at right angles to the wind to prevent a downdraft. This structure requires a hole in the middle of the roof, and thus may not be the best shelter in times of intense rain.


Teepee Designs

Many traditional teepee’s within one village would not be painted to any design. However amongst the tribes within the Great Plains, teepees were painted to designs in accordance with traditional tribal battles. Designs were often featured with geometric portrayals and animal designs that represented the clan or totem.

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