TIPIS – A TEMPLE OR A HOME?
The two men featured in this story had a job to do on top of the mountains, and after careful consideration, they knew the best way for them was a Tipi. Keeping them warm and comfortable for six months. Here’s their condensed story …
“Most folks will probably be surprised—as I was—to learn that the best movable shelter ever devised was perfected hundreds of years ago by the Plains Indians of the American Southwest. But the more I looked into the subject, the more convinced I became that—although they look like uncomplicated structures—tipis are actually more precisely designed than most of the “high technology” houses that are being built today!
As Caleb Clark, the old trapper in Ernest Thompson Seton’s Two Little Savages, said: “Ye kin live in it forty below zero and fifty ‘bove suffocation an’ still be happy. It’s the changeablest kind of a layout for livin’ in.” And Caleb wasn’t talking majority, either. A tipi can be snugged down to endure subfreezing winters or—with its skirts lifted—will keep its residents cool in roasting summer weather. Its conical shape sheds rain … and withstands hurricane winds that would dislodge any tent (and a good many stone or brick homes!). And the Indian dwelling will hold the heat, but not the smoke, of a toasty fire (if done correctly).
I was also surprised to discover how spacious the cone-shaped homes are. My companion and I found we had plenty of room in our 16-foot-diameter shelter. In fact, on occasion we had five people bedded down ’round the fire without a single crowding problem.
And these practical accommodations have another, more subtle, advantage: Living in a tipi provides a unique, at-one-with-nature experience. A cone dweller is in touch with—and yet shielded from—all the changing whims of weather. Tipi walls let the sun illuminate the interior by day … and provide a curved screen for firelit shadow dances at night. Chipmunks may perch on the shelter’s poles, violets sprout from its floor, or moonlight streams through the smoke hole—mixing with the glow of a fading fire—and form a sight too beautiful for words. Little wonder the Indians (who revered nature) considered a tipi a temple as well as a home.
The definitive tipi book – Reginald and Gladys Laubin’s The Indian Tipi—is readily available and should be consulted by anyone who wants to learn more about this sort of shelter.
My assistant and I encountered one major—and aggravating—problem, however – our fire.
We dealt with our smoke problem by employing a modern Indian trick … we buried a tin-can pipeline from the mouth of the fireplace to the outside of the tipi. That air intake made the blaze draw more strongly and helped clear out the haze. (These guys eventually went to a small stainless steel woodstove for which you need a special area using fire retardant material to pipe outside.)
I probably shouldn’t gripe about our fire problems, though. After all, we were able to stay warm on the peak of a snowed-in mountain at very high altitudes of over 8,600 ft. !
The Laubins’ (author of the book) native American friends had a lot of winter-warming tricks. They added an extra lining, stuffed the first liner-to-cover gap with hay insulation, built a 12-foot-tall windbreak around the tipi, and even added an ozan … an interior “raincoat” that was almost like a tipi within a tipi. But I’ll bet every one those traditional cone-dwellers was burning hardwood!”
End of this exerpt, but to read the entire 5 pages at Mother Earth News, go here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1979-05-01/Building-A-Tipi.aspx
The Lakota fire pit, similar to the one described in the article, is well-worth learning about. http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/the-dakota-fire-hole
The story of this Scotsman Chic and his partner living in a rural area of Wales is excellent also. They have been living the Tipi life for 18 years loving their tipi home. It’s set in an idyllic spot hidden in a Welsh valley, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From the tipi dwellers, I learned that tipis must be moved every six months in order for the earth to regain its life-force energy. http://www.zacstipis.com/article.htm
Because of the Sacred Circle shape of tipis, they are excellent for enhancing the spiritual life of the dweller, boosting meditation abilities and deep inner QUIET.
Many of the tipi dwellers make and sell tipis, including the following people. For an 18’ tipi you would pay an average of $1,000 for the outer skin, plus any extras such as liners. TIP: Find one on Craig’s List at a good price and try the lifestyle out before you make “leap”.
For a survival wilderness tipi community http://ourtipilife.wordpress.com/
Located in Ashland Oregon, see their ad at the directory here… http://directory.ic.org/22946/Tipi_Village
For a $1 per day, guests are welcomed to come and visit.
Hogans, another Native Dwelling, can also be winter proofed. They are an alternative to tipis. However, the lack of portability must be weighed. http://www.native-languages.org/houses.htm REALLY GOOD PHOTOS.