tepee or tipi (both: tēˈpē) [key], typical dwelling of Native North Americans living on the Great Plains. It was usually made by arranging tent poles into a conical frame and spreading skins, usually buffalo hide, tightly over it. An aperture was generally left at the top for smoke. The tepee was sometimes very elaborately decorated. It was highly mobile, being dragged by a horse when the tribe was on the move, and provided a strong shelter against the weather; it was thus an ideal dwelling for the nomadic Plains area tribes such as the Sioux and the Blackfoot. Because of the adaptability of the tepee to prairie life, Gen. Henry Sibley used it as a model for the tent that bears his name.

See R. Laubin and G. Laubin, The Indian Tipi (1957, repr. 1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: North American indigenous peoples, Culture

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