ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

In the Comfort of a Plains-Indian Tepee

Updated on August 12, 2019
juneaukid profile image

Richard F. Fleck has long remained fascinated by Native American cultures from the ancient Anasazi to modern-day tribal peoples of America.

19th-century Tepee

In the Lodgepole Forest
In the Lodgepole Forest | Source
Teaching in a tepee
Teaching in a tepee | Source

In the Comfort of a Plains-Indian Tepee

I have had the pleasure of spending a good bit of time in Plains-Indian tepees, but the day I most remember is when I sat listening to a Muskogee elder in a tepee erected on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie by the White Roots of Peace back in the 1980s. Not only was it comforting to hear his words about the need for us North American people to live together in peace and understanding, but it was also a real treat to sit by a small crackling fire inside the tepee with the smoke rising straight up the center through a smoke flap.The elder stared at me for a while as I was wearing red pants and somebody dressed in red was supposedly sent here to help Native Americans. One can only hope so.

It was a sharply cold day in March, and before entering, I wondered how my class and I would stay warm. But once we sat down around the fire, it was toasty warm! The March winds howled outside, but inside it remained warm, peaceful and snug. It was as though we had entered into another world.

The tepee is a tightly constructed circle of canvas (in the old days bison hide) wrapped around twelve lodgepole pine poles (see image of a lodgepole forest). Early-day Plains Indians would travel up into the Rocky Mountains to cut down numerous skinny pine trees and haul them back down in a horse-drawn travois (poles attached over the horse's head and fanned out into a wide v-shaped cargo-hold). They would bring back enough tepee poles about eighteen feet long for a small village in the plains below.

Once a suitable village site was selected, the men lashed together tripods and then added nine more poles to form a circle and repeated the process until the whole village was set up in a sacred circle. Bison hides were then stretched around each of the tepees with the opening always facing east toward the rising sun. Wooden pegs were inserting in slits to seal up the entrance way at nighttime. Each of the twelve poles represented a lunar month. Tribal artists e painted earlier the outside of the bison hides with spiritually significant designs of the rising sun or a herd of bison or a flock of snow geese.

I remember well taking my students up to the Wind River Indian Reservation to hear tribal story tellers and medicine men share their stories and something of their mysticism--all inside a tepee classroom! The Shoshone people were kind enough to set up tepees as dormitories for women and separate ones for the men under the light of a Wind River moon. I think my students got more out of Native American Studies by experiencing tribal culture on location.

Nothing better than to crawl into a sleeping bag beside a tepee fire and gaze out the flap above at the stars of the Milky Way and look forward to the rising sun illuminating the inside of your tepee the next day.

The White Roots of Peace visited many college campuses during the 1970s.

See also my hub page:

Have you ever been in an Indian Tipi?

See results

Great Plains


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)