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Tipi floor plan
Diagram showing inside of tipi.
Note door faces East.

In the past, we lived in tipis all year long. They were our homes. We organized the interior space efficiently and were very careful to maintain this order.

Our tipis always face east. Each morning we pray and sing our sacred songs to help Natosi (Sun) to rise. Behind the fireplace is an altar of white clay. We put a hot coal on this altar and sprinkle sweetgrass on it to burn. The smoke purifies us and lets Ihtsi-pai-tapi-yopa (Essence of All Life; Creator) hear our prayers.

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Glenbow Archives NA-1033-1
The couple who own this tipi [above] have their beds on the west wall, opposite the door.
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Glenbow Archives NA-1241-54
Above them hang the Sacred Bundles they keep. Rawhide cylinders hold saami (headdresses). Other family members sleep on buffalo robes along the side. Firewood is stored on the south side of the doorway. Food and cooking utensils are kept on the north side of the door. NB-40-771
Glenbow Archives NB-40-771
Sootsi-maan (rawhide containers) on the ground contain our dry meat. We pack our clothes in the larger ones. The pooniikatan (canvas liner) is stretched around the inside. It gives us privacy, like curtains in your window.
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Glenbow Archives NA-1461-7
It also funnels the breeze upwards along the tipi wall, creating a draft and giving plenty of ventilation. By moving the ears we can adjust this draft to the wind direction and keep our tipis free of smoke. When it rains we loosen the liner so the water does not run down the outside of the canvas. Our women paint designs on these liners. NA-1241-51
Glenbow Archives NA-1241-51
The backrests are made of willow branches lashed together with cotton cord and edged with woolen fabric. They make comfortable chairs.NB-40-786
Glenbow Archives NB-40-786