The History of the Tipi (or Teepee) (or Tepee)

Sioux teepee

Did you know…both Tipi and Teepee are correct spellings for the word Tepee (also correct)? The actually root of the word, “tipi”, is derived from the Lakota word “thi” meaning, “they dwell” or “to dwell.”

Traditionally, tipis were made of animal hide and wooden poles or logs, but today’s teepees (like the tipi at Crystal Crane Hot Springs) are mostly made of canvas.

Traditionally, the tipi made for quick packing and traveling, allowing for a nomadic lifestyle most often associated with Native Americans.  Though Native American tribes in the Plains did use the tipi for their nomadic housing, it is a misconception that most nomadic tribes used tipis. In fact, most Native Americans and nomadic tribes actually used other forms of dwellings such as the wigwam.

For Native Americans, and other nomads, the benefits are clear. Tipis:

  • Easily construct and deconstruct
  • Protect against rain
  • Are durable
  • Provide insulation against the cold in the winter and the sun in the summer

Other than the use of canvas instead of hides for the fabric, the typical structure of the tipi has not changed much over the years. Usually constructed of several 12-25′ log poles bound together with rope, the tipi usually includes an area in the middle for a fire, two smoke flaps, and a hole at the top of the teepee for smoke to escape.  This fire area is used for both heat and cooking. The shape of the teepee allows for a natural “chimney” affect that vents and fuels the fire. At Crystal Crane Hot Springs, this fire pit area is replaced with a you-fill hot spring soaking tub, since the tipis are only available seasonally in the warmer weather.

Experience the nomadic life for yourself, even if it’s just for the night.  Crystal Crane Hot Springs has a family teepee and tub, as well as a smaller, camp-like tipi tent. Nothing beats crawling in your sleeping bag with the stars overhead as you listen to the sounds of the Eastern Oregon wildlife. See for yourself at Crystal Crane Hot Springs Resort.