Definitions

tepee

tepee

[tee-pee]
tepee or tipi, 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).

or tipi

Tepees in Banff, Alta., Can.

Tall conical tent dwelling used by the Plains Indians of North America. It was suited to nomadic buffalo hunting because it could be easily dismantled and transported. It was made by stretching a sewn cover of buffalo skins over a skeleton of 20–30 wooden poles, all slanted in toward a central point and tied together near the top. A flap at the top allowed smoke to escape, and a flap at the bottom served as a doorway. The tepee became a popular symbol of all American Indians, although the wickiup, hogan, igloo, longhouse, earth lodge, and pueblo were at least as important.

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