Native American Tipi / Tepee

What is a Tipi / Tepee / Teepee?


Tipi/Tepee/Teepee is a dwelling type mostly associated with the nomadic Native Americans in the United States. Tipis can be disassembled and packed away quickly when a tribe decides to move. It can also be reconstructed quickly upon settling in a new area.

Made from buffalo hide fastened around long wooden poles and shaped like a cone, a tipi/ tepee is a Plains Indian home, which could hold 30 or 40 people comfortably. Tepees are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.





Why do the Native Americans live in tipis / tepees?

  • Tipis are easy to relocate, thus, it suits the nomadic lifestyle of the natives. 
  • Tipis are warm in winter and cool in summer. 
  • A tipi’s shape is designed in which, winds are deflected. 
  • Native Americans thought of this saying “The power of the world works in circles”, that's why, tipis are circular. 
  • Tipi was considered a healthy home by Native Americans due to the fact that it can be moved from one place to another.

 How do you construct a Tipi / Tepee?

  • The Natives stitch together a big canvass made of buffalo hide. 
  • Tipis / Tepees are usually 12 foot high and 5 long wooden poles are used to create the base of the tipi / tepee. 
  • The wooden poles are held upright and fastened at the top to form a conical shape. 
  • Then, they wrap the buffalo hide unto the poles. They leave an opening as a doorway. 
  • The men paint pictures outside of the tipi.

 Quick Facts:

  • The Rising Sun – usually tipis / tepees doorway are faced towards the rising sun. 
  • If the weather is bad, they just position the doorway whichever way that suits them. 
  • Women of the tribe are in charge of the tipis / tepees. They were the ones who instruct the men where to relocate or place the tipi and what to do with it. When the family is inside the tipi, they have the power to instruct everyone what to do, even ask them to sleep. 
  • The Natives love to arrange their tipis / tepees in a circular pattern wherein the doorway is at the center and the kids would play at the circle within the watchful eyes of their mothers. 
  • The symbols and pictures painted outside of the tipi / tepee were painted by the men, which often symbolize their achievements and hunting trips. 
  • If the flap of the tipi / tepee is open, then it denotes an invitation to enter. If the flap is closed, you need to announce yourself and wait for an invitation before you enter.