Bison Hide Tipi with Quilled Dangles
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Plains Indian (Lakota) Bison Hide Tipi with Quilled Dangles

Plains Indian (Lakota) Bison Hide Tipi with Quilled Dangles


A tipi (a Sioux word meaning "home") is made from 10 to 14 brain-tanned hides with the hair removed. Hides were placed in a prescribed manner, trimmed and sewn together using sinew (muscle). The completed shape on the ground was a half circle with added ear flaps.

Lodgepole pine provides the internal supporting structure. After an initial tripod was set up and tied, additional poles were added to complete the shape. Lakota placed five poles between each of the tripod poles and secured them with four wraps of rawhide rope. The hide cover was then tied to a heavy pole and lifted onto the back of the framework. The leather cover was pulled around to the front and chokecherry pins inserted to hold the two sides together. A pole was placed in each smoke flap pocket and their bases placed at the rear of the lodge. The setting up of a tipi took about 20 minutes.

A tribe could be recognized from a distance by the configuration of their tipi poles and shape of ear flaps. It was important to recognize tribal differences when traveling on the Plains so your band or that of an enemy could be discerned.



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