Tipis, or also known as teepees, are cone-shaped shelters traditionally made using wooden poles with coverings sewn from bison hides. Tipis were essential to the Plains’ Indigenous peoples because they often traveled a lot, to participate in social gatherings, to hunt, or to look for winter shelter. This is why they need homes that are easy to take down and easy to resurrect.
The Plains peoples create a portable and unique house form, none other than the tipi that was able to adapt to their mobile lifestyle. According to René R. Gadacz, the Plains tipi has uncertain exact origins.
But, telltale stone rings used for holding down the edges of the covers of the skin tent mark sites of ancient camps of tipis that date back for at least 5,000 years on Prairies and even much earlier in Northern regions.
The Indigenous peoples of the Plains first transported tipi coverings and poles to their camp’s next location with the use of dogs and later on horses during the late 18th century. Horses and dogs pulled a luggage-filled travo while Plains people were walking alongside.
When the European immigration started and the bison herds dwindled down during the second half of 19th century, the Plains Indigenous peoples’ traditional lifestyles also ended. But, tipis were able to sustain their important role in the Indigenous culture.
Shea Gunther shares in this article on Mother Nature Network. It covers all the things you have long wanted to know about tipis but were usually hesitant to ask.
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