When a new Tipi is erected, it is seen as a new female person and member of the camp circle. It receives many Blessings.
One for each lodge pole, one for the hides of the Animals that gave their lives – or the Plants and minerals, that provided the canvas.
In the olden days Tipis were constructed out of up to 24 Buffalo Cow hides = only female hides were used!
They all were individually blessed and given a protection “dot with ground catlinite or red ocher mixed in Bear grease (Bear= healing power)
When erected, the Tipi also received a special protection/ Guardian Bundle, that was hung onto the mid pole at the back. This “Fetish” was usually conceived of in a shamanic dream by and Elder or medicine Person.
This is the bundle, that the Spirits of the Land instructed me to prepare for this Tipi:
– – Buffalo wool to honour the ancient ways and the Buffalo Nation as being the ultimate provider and giving their life for the benefit of the Human Beings
– – A Prayer Bundle containing a Buffalo bone, Sage and Cedar
Red trade cloth = Red= Life, East, New Beginnings,
Turquoise: Healing stone, prevention of injury and harm
East, discernment, independence, guardianship, protection Spirit of the Men
Keeper of the Sacred Law of Cause and Effect, protection Spirit of the camp, the Clan, especially, when the men are out -at war or hunting and the women are alone
joy in hard work, harvest of riches, protection for small children, especially when nursing = growth of the family
The origin of the Tipi is the North-Eastern Boreal Forest – among the Cree and Chippewa Nations
Tipis are tilted cones: The Back of the Tipi is steeper than the front, to guard against the prevailing West winds.
The entrance is always East – towards the rising Sun.
So in East winds Tipis are somewhat shaky and may “wander”
At least 12 sometimes up to 24 Cow Buffalo hides were used. NEVER hides from a male Animal.
A Tipi usually belonged to a woman. Her family provided the hides and poles. In some tribes, If she wanted to divorce her husband, she could just put his belongings outside.
Among some tribes however,it was quite different: The men may trade, exchange or loose one or several of his wives in gambling games and then she would have to move into the Tipi of the winner. She would have to sleep at the lowest place – near the door, often having her children with her. So husbands may change but it was important to get along with all the women of the camp, because one never knew, in who’s Tipi one may end up, but the Sisterhood of women stays the same.
Tipi poles each have a spiritual teaching, no matter, who’s Tipi you reside in.
A normal mid 19th Century Tipi made from Buffalo hide may weigh from 90 to 110 pounds,it was 18 to 25 ft in diameter when set up.
When the camp was moving the poles were tied – 5 to 6 on each side onto pack Horses. 2 further poles were lashed together to form a travoi and the 90 pound rolled Tipi skin was hoisted upon it. 2 women had to work together to load a Tipi. A second pack horse with another travoi transported bedding, parflechs and other household items. So the owner of a tipi also needed access to 3 pack horses.
Nowadays most tipis are made of high quality fire resistant canvas and a lot easier to set up.
My next post will be a picture essay of the Tipi raising at a friend’s home.