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The designs that are painted on our tipis are more than pretty images; they connect us with the Spirit Beings in the world around us. These painted tipis are another of our Sacred Bundles. The right to use any of the designs is a privilege and must be formally transferred in a ceremony. Not all of our tipis are painted.

The paintings on our lodges were given to us by Papai-tapiksi, the Dream Beings. Each painted tipi has a ceremony for a specific purpose. Some help to predict the future. Some help to call the buffalo. Some call a storm. Each design protects the family inside and helps them to live happy, successful, and safe lives.
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Glenbow Archives NA-668-8

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Examples of Foothills [above]
and Mountains [below]
Each part of our tipi design has a special significance. These meanings may be different on different tipis. The bottom of a tipi is Mother Earth. Round shapes on the bottom are hills, or if they are pointed they are mountains.

The middle section shows the animals who are the spirit helpers to the tipi owners.
Wolf Raven
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Glenbow Archives NA-919-37
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Glenbow Archives NA-667-201
Big Dipper (Seven Stars)The upper part is the heavens and the stars.Circles are stars, representing the Big Dipper (seven circles)and Pleiades or the Bunch Stars (six circles). Our ancient stories about these stars tell of children who were lost or neglected and who went to live in the sky. When we see these on tipis we remember to always care for our children. A single circle is for Ipiso-waahsa, Morning Star.
Many tipis have animal designs, such as Aim-moniisi (Otter), who has come to help the family living in this lodge. With his help the people will prosper, be healthy, and live to an old age. Female animals are on the north side and males are on the south side of the tipi. Sometimes a life line runs from their mouths to their hearts.

A cross is apa-nii, a butterfly or moth. It represents Papai-tapiksi, the Dream Beings, who bring us messages to direct our lives.
Otter

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Glenbow Archives NA-883-2