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TIPI, a conical skin tent best known from the Plains Indians but with historical roots from the indigenous people of the Arctic. All tipis have a central fire hearth, an east-facing entrance, and a place of honor opposite the door. Plains tipis are actually tilted cones, with a smoke-hole down a side with controllable flaps, and an interior lining for ventilation and insulation. Tipi covers historically were bison hide, but modern tipis use canvas. Plains tipis use either a three-or a four-pole framework overlain with additional poles as needed. Covers are stretched over the poles, staked, or weighted down with stones. Tipis were an excellent adaptation for hunting and gathering peoples who needed a light, transportable, yet durable residence.


Laubin, Reginald, and Gladys Laubin. The Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977. Originally published in 1955, it is the most complete book on the tipi available and contains excellent illustrations throughout.

Davis, Leslie, ed. From Microcosm to Macrocosm: Advances in Tipi Ring Investigation and Research. Edited by Leslie Davis. Plains Anthropologist 28–102, pt. 2, Memoir 19 (1983). Twenty-three papers investigate tipi use on the Great Plains from prehistory to the period after Euroamerican contact. Heavily illustrated.

Larry J.Zimmerman

See alsoTribes: Great Plains .