A teepee's main structure is cone-shaped and made from three poles of lodgepole pine or red cedar that are arranged as a tripod. Other slightly shorter poles are then laid onto this tripod to help support the teepee walls. Ropes made of raw hide and wooden pegs were used to bind the poles together. The teepee's construction made it easy to assemble and disassemble, which fit well with the lifestyle of the nomadic Plains Indians that moved frequently while hunting.
Native American teepees were clad in untanned and tanned animal skins, especially that of the buffalo. They were also sometimes covered in blankets or rectangular pieces of cloth. Most modern examples are wrapped in canvas. Historically, teepee's were unpainted.
Very often, the top of the teepee was left open, allowing it to serve as a chimney. Unlike many tent designs, the teepee can safely accommodate a small open fire. There were also traditionally two adjustable smoke flaps on the teepee. A teepee is a very effective shelter that stays warm during the winter, cool during the summer and dry when it rains heavily.
Who Used It
The teepee is ideally suited to a nomadic lifestyle and was used by Indian tribes on the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies such as the Lakota, Shoshone and Sioux. The word "teepee" comes from the Lakota language and means "a dwelling" or "they dwell."
Who Didn't Use It
The dome-like wigwam is sometimes confused with the teepee, but it is a different structure and was used by Algonquians in the eastern United States. Most North American Indian tribes outside of the Plains were not nomadic, and lived in houses made from timber, thatch and/or adobe.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.