How can I Build a Teepee?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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A teepee is a portable home that was, and still is, used by Native Americans. It is also known as a tipi or tepee. It is easy to build a teepee, as they are shaped like a tent, with the frame being made from poles. The framework is then covered in animals' skins, usually buffalo, or large pieces of tree bark. It usually took twelve or more buffalo hides, sewn together, to make one family-sized tepee.

The shape and construction of a teepee allows you to burn a fire inside your home. Smoke ears are made in the side of the structure to allow the fire to vent and fresh air to circulate throughout the home. The tepee's door usually faces east, preventing the prevailing winds from blowing the fire out or causing the home to ignite.

It is easy to build a teepee that is 10 feet (3.04 m) tall. It is made with canvas, rope and twelve poles, at least 13 feet (3.96 m) in length. The canvas is cut into the shape of a half circle that is 15 feet (4.57 m) tall by 30 feet (9.15 m) wide. If you are planning on having a fire burning in your teepee, make two smoke flaps in the middle of the canvas.


Before you build a teepee, you must first create a door by cutting half circles in each end of the canvas. The half circles should be evenly cut so they form a circle when the canvas is erected into the shape of a cone. Design a door by cutting excess canvas into the shape of a circle slightly larger than the door opening. Attach a heavy stick to the bottom of the door by hemming a pocket. Attach the door to the canvas by sewing the top of it just above the door opening.

The next step to build a teepee is to line the curved edge of the half circle with the rope. Sew it to the canvas securely, as it will be used to peg the teepee to the ground. Attach loops to the rope to push the pegs through. Sew a piece of rope to the top of the teepee to wrap around the poles when erected.

Form a tripod out of three of the strongest poles to build a teepee. Fasten them together at the top using the rope. Erect the remaining poles against the tripod, forming a conical shape. Lay the canvas cover over the framework and secure it at the top with pegs. Stretch the canvas as tightly as possible and peg it to the ground.

After you build a teepee, but before it is pegged, face it towards the east to prevent the wind from blowing out the fire. Open the smoke flaps so they act as chimneys when the fire is burning. Your teepee is now ready for use.


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