Which Indians Used Teepees?

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The nomadic Plains Indian tribes used teepees. Plains Indians is a blanket term that includes a number of individual tribes, including Pawnee, Omaha, Plains Apache and Lakota, among many others. Another style of mobile housing is called a wigwam.

Teepees are also spelled tipi and tepee, depending on the individual and group. Teepees were essential for the plains tribes, who were regularly on the move and following food sources, such as buffalo herds. It was also necessary to move to continue to hunt without running out of the existing food supply. In most tribes, the teepee belonged to the women of the family, who set it up and made decisions about decoration. The structures were simple, made from long poles strung together and covered with hide, and were easy to transport across even large distances.

Wigwams were similar to the teepee in that they could be uprooted and moved to a new location when necessary. However, wigwams were sturdier, longer-lasting structures that were typically used when a tribe or group intended to settle in one area for a long time and did not anticipate moving. There were two variations in the use of these structures: fully nomadic and semi-sedentary. The latter group more commonly used wigwams in addition to teepees; fully nomadic groups generally relied on teepees.