Do the Native Americans Still Live in Tipis?

Whether you spell it Tipi or Teepee, the answer is no. Native Americans live in modern housing just like the rest of the modern world does. It’s not like we’re all still living in thatched roof cottages either, so why would they live in tipis? Much the same way Hollywood paints a tan overtone to every supposed Latin American scene, it’s that same misconception sold by movies and TV shows, but Tipis aren’t used anymore for anything other than novelty.

Where Native Americans Live

There are lands protected for tribes all over the United States called reservations. These reservations are considered sovereign, which means that they are recognized as self-governing. That’s does not mean that residents of these reservations are not subject to federal or state laws, they are citizens of the United States after all. They do, however, have their own police, elected leaders, other public services, and public officials. There are also some laws that overlap into the reservation, some that are in the reservation only, and others that have no effect in the reservation. I’m no lawyer, I won’t try to unravel that finger trap.

The Use of Tipis

First off, not all tribes used tipis. The ones that did use them did so because they are easy to set up and disassemble. Both long-term and seasonal dwelling are appropriate uses. They are also fairly effective in keeping warmth in during the winter, keeping the heat out in the summer, protection against rain and storms, all while being very durable. A tipi would typically last about 10 years before being broken down and converted into clothing and other necessities. Can your house do that? Imagine going out on the town wearing drywall you ripped out of your house, maybe with a screw still dangling from the corner.

Tipis were a great solution for following wild herds of animals. Think of it like a tent that you take camping. You can set up and be out hunting without too much ado. Unlike my crazy uncle who couldn’t even set up a pop-up tent and just used the thing as a sleeping bag instead, Native Tribes were very good at setting up a tipi, with set-up times varying from 3 to 5 hours, and some even going up in as little as 30 minutes.

Other Native American Dwellings of Yesteryear

As mentioned, not all tribes used the tipi. So, what did they dwell in? Other structures used by different tribes included wickiups (or wikiups), wigwams, wetus, longhouses, and adobe pueblos. It does sound like Adobe Pueblos should be the next app from the software giant, Adobe Inc., creator of Adobe Photoshop, but they haven’t responded to my many letters or emails. Their loss. Some Native Americans lived in very harsh climates (like Alaska and northern Canada), for which they used igloos, plank houses, and barabaras which were built partially underground for geothermal heat. Chickees were used in wet areas like Florida because of their raised floor that protected against floods and swampy conditions.

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