History of Tepee

History of Tepee

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History of Tepee

Ti pi is a term of Lakota (Sioux) origin that means “to live” (in English tepee, teepee). The tipi is the original nomadic dwelling of the Great Prairie tribes of North America. Perhaps it is the most useful, comfortable and beautiful of all portable homes that have been created so far…



No one knows for sure which Native American tribe developed the tepee for the first time, since it has been (and still is) used by many of them: Lakota (Sioux), Apsalooke, Kiowa, Cree, Objiway and so on, which count with different names and legends about its creation. Thus, for example, the Apsalooke (Crow) natives call it Ashé and the Black Feet (Blackfoot) call it Niitoy-Yiss. According to the Cree tribe, it was created by some children while playing with the cotton leaves and some twigs. What is easier to determine, is to which tribe a tepee or a camp belonged, due to its design, which presented slight variations from one group to another. While aspects such as the shape of the cone, the wings, the structure of sticks, etc. determined the differences, basically the styles of tepees can be grouped into two broad categories according to their architecture: -Those who they are built on a tripod (eg Lakota, Soshoni, Cheyenne, Assiniboine) -Those that are built on a quadripod (eg Blackfoot, Apsalooke, Comanche). The Lakota have been experts in making their shelters practical and very comfortable!



The first tepees were made in leather and sewn with tendons. The skins were mostly buffalo, tanned in the spring but they could also be made of deer, elk or antelope skin.The sticks were made of pine, abundant in the hills and valleys of the Rocky Mountains, and cut in the summer On average, formerly, tepees were 5 or 5.5 meters in diameter and were designed for a family. In some cases, tepees of 3 meters in diameter were also made for children to play and larger tepees, 7 or 7.5 meters in diameter, for Council meetings. When it was hot the wings for smoke were open and the Bottom of the tepee cover was rolled up, allowing air to circulate freely. In winter, an inner skirt was added thus providing insulation. The fire that burned in the center of the store was responsible for maintaining the heat in the tepee. Easy to mount, an average tepee could be assembled or disassembled in less than an hour by the women of the tribe, the true owners of the tepee… The man, warrior and hunter, was responsible for decorating it with paintings, capturing historical or mystical designs obtained through his dreams and visions, and that granted protection to the inhabitants of the house. The traditional decoration of a tepee included a bed of leather, chairs-backrest of willow rod bed (backrest), a kitchen tripod, supply of firewood, bags containing food, medicine and other necessities… In the insulated skirt of the tepee, sacred objects, weapons, shields and others were hung elements.



When a woman decided to build a tepee, she invited all her friends to eat and after the banquet they helped with the operation of cutting and sewing fur. Upon reaching the sewing of the wings for the smoke, the women took care that this important work was entrusted to a person who was reputed to be happy, since it was believed that if the work was carried out by a person of bad character, Wings would not work well and the tepee would always be filled with smoke. During the summer, the tribe groups gathered in a single circle, to celebrate the Dance of the Sun. The tepees mounted in rows of three or four, forming a large circle, which represented the Circle of Life. In the center there were only the tepees of the Council, which contained the sacred objects of the tribe. The 2 great innovations that the tepee lived from its origin to the beginning of the 20th century were:

1) The arrival of the horse to America, which facilitated the hunting, and allowed to transport sticks and larger skins through the “travois” system and consequently create larger tepees.

2) At the beginning of the 19th century the use of skins for the cover was replaced by cotton canvas, which facilitated transport, assembly and construction of the tepee and allowed more light to enter inside.

FAQs Tepee

FAQs Tepee

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FAQs Tepee

What is a tepee?
The best definition of a tepee is offered by its meaning in the Lakota language: To live…
The tepee is an art form, of the art of living, which distinguishes from the other nomadic tribes to those of the natives of the Great Prairies…
Not all conical tents are tepees. Conical tents have been used for centuries in America and other places, such as Siberia. But the real tepee is distinguished from these by 2 main features:
-The tepee is a displaced cone, not symmetrical, resulting in a practical aspect to place the fire inside and allow the chimney to not be intercepted by the mass of sticks on the top…
-The hole that allows the exit of the smoke, has two large wings (smokeflaps) or flags that allow to handle the exit of the smoke efficiently depending on the weather: wind, rain, etc… helping to keep it always dry.

Tepees are only for natives?
We share the opinion that one does not have to be a Native American to respect and enjoy what the natives have built, in the same way that we consider it is not necessary to be Hindu, to respect and enjoy the benefits of the exercise of yoga. It is time to integrate…
Possibly the fact of not belonging to a particular tribe, gives us the possibility of relating to the tepee, in the way that seems best, integrating different traditions.

What design do TipiWakan tepees have?
We manufacture tepees based on the original Lakota design (we also make designs from other tribes on request)
Inspired by the creativity principles of Native Americans, our tepees include beauty and practicality in equal parts. We have adapted the original design to our times including modern mooring systems, reinforcements in key areas, tarpaulins treated to deal with environmental conditions, accessories, etc. in order to provide comfort and durability to the teepee.

The teepee can be assembled all year?
Definitely a teepee can be assembled all year. We work with high quality tarpaulins, resistant to rain, sun, mold, fire, etc. that allow permanent mounting of the tepee. However, we will advise you to perform some maintenance tasks that will improve the overall performance of the tepee as permanent housing.

How long does a teepee last?
Because the durability of a teepee as it is a natural material exposed to the weather, depends on its quality, the variable weather conditions and the use and care of its owner, it is not possible to stipulate a lifetime. of the tepee in a guaranteed way.
However, we can say that many of our tepees are permanently mounted in good condition for more than 7 years. If the tepee is disassembled when not in use, maintenance is carried out according to its climate and is stored in good condition, this end can be doubled… and more!

Is a teepee waterproof?
Due to its semi-conical shape (which repels water outwards) the resistant tarps we work with (that have waterproof treatment) and the use of a rain accessory (for the eventual water that can slide through the sticks in case of storms) the tepee can be considered waterproof.

The tepee resists strong winds?
The tepee resists strong winds since its design is based on a tripod, which is one of the most stable structures that exist.
If it will be mounted in an area with strong winds, there are some extra, simple and very effective precautions that we recommend adopting in the assembly dossier that accompanies each tepee we deliver.

Can I make fire in the teepee?
Absolutely! You can make open fire in the center of the teepee or use a fireplace. This fire besides offering a warm temperature, illuminates and offers the option of cooking in it.

What is the inner canvas?
An inner canvas, also known as a skirt or linning, is an inner canvas wall that runs along the lower part of the teepee.
Its function is to isolate and control the air flow that the tepee receives, that is, it creates a completely natural air circulation system, which benefits the central fire throw.
In TipiWakan we offer you interior canvases of various heights, with synthetic hems, pockets for storing light objects, etc.

What is the ozan?
The ozan is a half-moon-shaped interior ceiling that covers the back of the teepee, behind the fire. It serves to expel to the outside of the area of the bed, the drops that can seep between the sticks. The ozan creates a warmer and more protected microclimate in the posterior area of the tepee.
In TipiWakan we also offer a 3/4 ozan that reaches the front of the tepee, for use with a fireplace or with open fire.

What is the difference between varnished sticks and natural sticks?
You can mount a teepee with 100% natural sticks, just as we deliver them in our complete teepees. These sticks will last for years providing good use. However, to preserve the natural color of the wood, and all its qualities for more years you can choose to varnish the sticks with a special ecological varnish, like the one we use.
We can take care of this task, and we also sand and refine the tips of the sticks at the time of varnish.

Can tepees be painted?
Tepees can be decorated with authentic native designs or other interesting ones. We have a team specialized in tepees painting. If you want to paint the tepee by yourself we also offer you special acrylic paint to paint tepees, resistant to moisture and UV rays.

What is done for the ground in a tepee?
The simplest and most rustic solution for a tepee’s floor is simply the use of the surface where it is mounted.
However, various types of floor insulators can be used, which make it much more comfortable.
Carpets, wooden pallets, skins, tarpaulins … we offer you some of these options.

How long does it take to get my tepee ready?
The average time for preparing a complete medium tepee from the moment you confirm the order until the moment when it is ready for delivery, is approximately 2 weeks, but this depends on the time of the year. Contact us for more information!

History of Yurt

History of Yurt

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History of Yurt

El Yurt o Yurta es la vivienda portátil tradicional de los grupos de pastores nómadas de la estepa de Asia central.

Su nombre en mongol es Ger, que significa “tienda de fieltro”. La palabra Yurt es el principio de una palabra turca que se refiere a la impresión dejada en la tierra por una yurta recién quitada, y por extensión, actualmente, el significado de Yurt en este idioma hace alusión a  “patria” o “dominio”.

El nombre Kazakh original utilizado para describir la yurta como vivienda es Kïiz Üy y significa “casa de fieltro”.

Mongolia es una planicie alta, donde la mayoría de las alturas sobrepasan los 1000 metros sobre el nivel del mar. El clima suele ser extremadamente seco, duro, con fuertes vientos y grandes variaciones de temperatura entre el invierno y el verano.

El diseño original de la yurta es muy adecuado para resistir las variaciones climáticas propias de las regiones de las que procede, combinando su extraordinaria estabilidad con su facilidad de transporte.

Su diseño es circular y combina esencialmente un marco hecho de varas de madera (que incluye las paredes, vigas del techo y una corona central sostenida por un par de columnas) fijadas entre sí con tendones y crin de caballo, y originalmente recubierto con fieltro, aunque en la actualidad también con lonas e incluyendo puerta de madera.

Desde tiempos antiguos, la yurta ha tenido un profundo significado místico. Representa el universo en el microcosmos: el suelo (la tierra), el techo (el cielo) y la corona del techo (el sol). Está orientada a las cuatro esquinas de la Tierra.

La yurta contiene también los 5 elementos básicos de la cultura asiática: Tierra (el suelo), rodeada de Madera (la estructura), incluye al  Fuego (dentro de la estufa), rodeado de Metal (la rejilla), y hay Agua (en el pote sobre la rejilla). La estufa se considera sagrada también, con el humo ascendiendo hacia los cielos…

FAQs Yurt

FAQs Yurt

FAQs Yurt

Is the yurt a home for the whole year?
Yes. The yurt is a portable dwelling and suitable as a permanent residence. Its original design is ancestral and has been perfected for many generations to meet the needs of its inhabitants. It can be warm in Arctic winters and cool enough in summer. It resists strong winds, snow, and thanks to the incorporation of specific tarps, it also resists moisture. This ingenious structure does not require floor fixing.

The yurts resist the strong winds?
The yurts come from a country of extreme weather conditions. They are aerodynamic and withstand strong winds despite not being anchored to the ground. However, an additional option in case of strong winds is to fix the central rope of the crown to a ring attached to the ground, making it even more resistant to strong gusts.

Does the yurt resist heavy snowfall?
The yurt resists heavy snowfall. But it is important to remove the weight of the snow from the roof, so as not to force the structure. We recommend placing 2 additional columns in the crown in yurts that have to resist large snowfall permanently, such as in high mountains.

Are the yurts waterproof?
During relatively short periods of rain with the waterproof tarp is sufficient. However, for mostly rainy climates or yurts that are to be fixedly mounted, we add a waterproof membrane between the outer canvas and the felt (waterproof kit).

How long does a yurt last?
A yurt with due care, is ready to live many years! It is common to replace it with parts, as the natural life cycle of its materials is fulfilled. Thus, for example, it is expected to renew the canvases first and the woods later. In Mongolia, for example, parents inherit the crowns (toono) and the pieces of wood from the yurts, which suggests great durability!
Even so, the life of a yurt depends entirely on the care and maintenance provided. It is also exposed to the weather and temperature changes. This will depend largely on the climate of the assembly area.

Who installs my yurt?
The yurts can be installed by their owners, because thanks to our assembly guide they can handle by themselves. The time it takes to assemble will depend on the place, weather conditions, the number of people participating, and the size of the yurt. We also offer the assembly service of your yurt if you prefer this option.

Can you put windows or second door?
Yes. You can order a certain number of additional windows or doors depending on the diameter of the yurt.

Can I add partition walls to the yurt?
Yes. Various interior spaces can be created in the yurt, especially the larger it is. This is done once the yurt is mounted. They can be added to provide separate bathrooms, bedrooms or kitchens. A local carpenter or we (upon request) can easily build these walls in the yurt.

Can I add a WC to the yurt?
Yes. Thanks to the connection between yurts (duo supplement) or the creation of interior walls, and the underground installation of pipes leading to septic tanks, or composting / drainage systems, WCs can be created in the yurts. Although we recommend installing a window in the area for the WC to avoid moisture and condensation.

Can I have a kitchen in the yurt?
Yes. Kitchens have been added to yurts for a long time in various ways, usually with traditional Mongolian furniture, but also with standard modules.
The kitchen can be a combination of a gas (as an easy solution) with the traditional wood stove.
Having this and the furniture of a sink, storage furniture and pipes, it is certainly possible to cook very comfortably in the yurt. In warm times you can cook outdoors.

How to decorate a yurt?
Of course this option is free, but we additionally offer floors and furniture to complete the yurt, in a traditional Mongolian style, aesthetic and functional for the space of a yurt.

Can I connect more than one yurt?
Yes. People who want multiple rooms often request this option. This is achieved thanks to the yurt connector (duo supplement) that you can request in a complementary way to the yurts to be joined (which can be of different sizes).

What are the traditions and the original symbolism of the yurt?
Some traditional symbols and beliefs are:
– In a 5-wall yurt (the most traditional in Mongolia) there are 9 × 9 = 81 beams on the roof. 9 is a sacred number for Mongolian Buddhists.
– You must enter the yurt with the right foot and not hit the door frame your body (brings bad luck inside the yurt). If it does, go back out and enter again “fine”…
– Orange, is the most traditional color of the yurt in Mongolia, symbolizes the sun that shines on the earth
– In Mongolia it is considered rude to knock on the door a yurt. You are always welcome in a yurt! To warn of your approach, you usually say “tie the dogs”.
– The central pillars (bagaanas) connect the sky with the earth.
– The door is normally south facing (help when traveling without a compass in Mongolia)
– It is said that the yurt is usually not anchored, so as not to attack the earth.

About Inipi

About Inipi

About Inipi

Extract from the book “The Gift of Power” Archie Fire Lame Deer,

The Inipi or Iniunkajaktelo, which means “we are going to pray at the Sweat Lodge” is an ancestral ceremony of the Lakota Nation.

It is the medicine of the four directions and the four elements (fire, earth, air and water). A ceremony of spiritual, physical, mental and emotional healing and purification, whose main purpose is reunification. It is the first of the seven traditional ceremonies of the Lakota. The Inipi ceremony was given by a woman. Most of the spiritual teachings of the Lakota were given by women. We are all born from a woman, and everything created comes from Mother Earth.

The Inipi structure is built with willow sticks covered with blankets (formerly skins). The lodge is approximately 2.40 meters in diameter, it is quite large and comfortable with enough space to accommodate a good group of people. In the center of the lodge there is a hole where the stones previously heated in the outside fire will be placed. It takes at least three hours for the fire to heat the stones properly. The meeting of the water and the heat of the stones inside the sweatlodge will create steam, the breath of the Creator …

The sweatlodge is related to purification, astrology and the life gestation process. The entire sweatlodge symbolizes a womb. Each element has a special meaning. Fire represents the sun, which gives its energy to the Earth. The altar symbolizes the moon. The center of the lodge represents the Earth that gives us life and welcomes us. The ceremony itself represents the woman’s pregnancy, and that is why when it comes out, once purified, we say that we have been born again.

One of the main teachings of the Lakota (and many native peoples share same vision), is that we are all related (humans, animals, plants, minerals, the elements, Mother Earth, Father Sun ..) We are all part of one great family to be respected and honored and therefore we pray mainly for the the harmony restoration of all members: Aho Mitakuye Oyasín! For all my relations!

In the words of Archie Fire Lame Deer (Lakota Medicine Man): We have to return to the teachings of the origin to survive. This does not mean to be primitive or to go back to the age of the caves. Rather, we have to deeply understand what the wise elders of the tribes sang since ancient times:

“My life is that of the Black-tailed Deer, I will return to the top of the mountain, I will learn again to respect the Earth, the plants, the trees, the water, the air, so that our people, our nation, live”





Some myths and truths:

-There are similar ceremonies in many ancient cultures. In fact, the Sweat Lodge is considered to be the first ceremony in the entire world. There are records of its millennial age in Siberia, Alaska, Russia and other areas.

-There are people who mistakenly consider Inipi as a mere sauna, but is not the case. It is true that Inipi provides a physical cleansing through the elimination of toxins by dilating the pores of the skin and sweat, but the main purpose is to pray.

-The term pray is not considered as reciting the passage of a book from memory, but to open the heart, guide one’s own path towards the Creator, and pray sometimes aloud or silently, or sometimes through songs or sacred sounds, but always in a sincere and direct way. We pray for future generations, children, the elderly, animals, water, fire, air, Earth, for oneself, for others …

-Many Lakota elders teach that being an Indian today is a way of life. You must overcome the clichés. Being white doesn’t have to do with skin color either. A holy man, for example, can be white, black, or Indian. The important thing about the individual is if he does good, if he helps others.

(resume by Victoria)

“The Far West Illusion”

“The Far West Illusion”

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“The Far West Illusion”


Exhibition: “The Far West illusion”

Place: Temporary exhibition room of the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum (Madrid)

Duratión: Until Febraury 7, 2016

More info: museothyssen.org

“The Far West Illusion” proposes for the first time in Spain, to follow in the footsteps of the artists who in the 19th century opened the way to the American West to represent their landscapes and the ways of life of its inhabitants, the Indian tribes.

Artists of the time, such as Edward Curtis, George Catlin, Henry Lewis, Tomas Cole, Thomas Hill, Karl Bodmer, among others, contributed to create the myth of a wild, paradise and dangerous territory.

Colonialization would irreversibly modify Indian cultures, which the artists almost always reflected with admiration and respect, although not always abstracting from the illusion, understood as a mirage, but also as enthusiasm, generated by themselves and by literature, which continues to this day. in a powerful popular culture ”  


Bison_Dance_of_the_Mandangeorge catlin



The exhibition consists of maps, photographs and original paintings that the artists produced through their expedition trips and visits to the tribes, as well as ceremonial artifacts and the daily life of native peoples, and more modern elements of literature, cinema, television and comic strips (ex. Buffalo Bill, The Last of the Mohicans) that explain how the extended image of the Native American seldom escaped the clichés built on it and that continue to this day.



Tipi in the Educational Area 

We setted up a full 5.5 meter teepee for the exhibition (educational area) including flooring and some decorative elements (rugs, cushions, traditional chairs). The teepee we setted up in the garden at the entrance of the museum, and it works as a special activity room for the little ones, throughout the exhibition.


Tipi entrance

Inside the tipi