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Tipi, Teepee, Tepee…A History

The Exact Origins of the Tipi Remain a Mystery

Indigenous people have been living in conical tents for centuries. The circular plan mirrored nature: the earth, the sky, the seasons, life itself. The buffalo hunters of the Great Plains were the ones who made the design innovations distinctive to “modern” tipis. First, they tilted the cone into the prevailing winds, making it slightly asymmetrical and nearly vertical in back. This had two effects: it made the tipi stand strong against the weather and it increased the headroom and usable living space. Second, they moved the smoke hole down the more gently sloping front of the tipi and added flaps, supported and adjusted with poles from the outside, to control the draw for the fire. These flaps give the tipi its elegant winged appearance.

The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction and Use by Reginald and Gladys Laubin is an excellent resource book. We keep this book in stock. The cost is $18, plus shipping. Call 800.288.3190 to order.


Call us: 800-288-3190