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Tepee - The dwelling or lodge of the Plains indians.  The word is from the Dakota tipi, meaning "the place where one lives."  The Indian's tepee was found to be so ideal for prairie life that General Henry Hastings Sibley took it as a mode for the famous Sibley tent of the united States Army.

The erection of a tepee was the work of women.  First, three poles about 25 foot in length were lashed together at one end and set up to form a tripod - one pole to the east, one to the north, and one to the south.  The east pole was the left-hand door post, as lodges always faced the east.  From thirteen to twenty three poles were then leaned against this tripod so that their bases formed a circle about 15 feet in diameter.  The final pole to be set up was used to hoist the buffalo hide covering which was tied to it.

The tepee covering was made of fifteen to eighteen buffalo hides, cut and fitted together and sewed so that they formed a large sheet nearly semicircular in shape.  When placed on the framework of poles the edges of the covering were brought together in front and fastened by wooden pins.  A space was left for the doorway, the "door" of which was a piece of dressed skin, usually ornamented.

The lower rim of the tepee was kept down by pegs driven into the ground.  Flaps were left at the top as a kind of flue for regulating the smoke.  These flaps could be adjusted by two poles, and when the wind changed the flaps were set so the flue would draw properly.  The fire pit was in the center of the tepee.  Beds were arranged on both sides of the door and in the back.

The skin covering of a tepee was decorated with symbols of the owner's choosing.  After a warrior had counted coup on an enemy tepee he could use this tepee's decoration on his own.

When camp was to be moved, women took down the tepees.  The poles were lashed to the sides of dogs or horses to form a travois, the covering rolled up and packed on it.
 

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