The tipi (also tepee or teepee) is an amazing example of Indigenous engineering. Used as a home by the plains people, it has quickly become an international symbol of Indigenous peoples in North America. The design was made so that one person can easily put it up and take it down making it an ideal mobile home when following the buffalo. It is traditionally made of buffalo hide or other animal skins, but today canvas is used. Tipis have a built in air conditioner and heater that would keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This effect is created by airflow between the outer and inner lining. On a hot day, the shaded inside liner cools the air entering the tipi. On a cold day a fire is kept within to warm the liner and air entering the tipi.
The amount of poles vary but on average there are 15 poles to make the structure of the tipi. For every pole in the tipi, there is a teaching. Tipi teachings that reflect the stories and values of the people include strength, honesty, bravery, good child rearing and humility which are represented in the poles. Together, the poles of a tipi make it incredibly strong, much like a community. By removing a pole the structure is weakened.
Carleton’s tipi was made in Wikwemikong First Nation and represents the university’s commitment to Indigenous students and communities. It is a familiar site on campus and all are welcome to come in and enjoy the beauty of tipi.
For more information on the tipi, to set up a tipi teaching, or to book the tipi for a class please email Rodney Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.