The Tipi, like most things, has been constantly evolving over the last 500 years, but still bears a remarkably close resemblance to it’s earliest predecessor.

Originally, the Wigwam would have provided shelter for the families of the American Indians, being made from an arrangement of wooden poles providing a structure, and wood, bark, moss and leaves being used to weather the roof and sides. Such structures were high maintenance and not hugely satisfactory to shelter it’s occupants against the weather of the American plains, and because of it’s structure, wasn’t able to be moved with regularity. When Buffalo skins were utilised as a new covering for the outside, the wigwam made a giant step not only for it’s improved windproof structure, but also for their inhabitants who now could be migratory hunters, making seasonal journeys following game and buffalo, and a means by which to trade.

These skin tents were noted in European records in the earlier half of the Sixteenth century, and because of their versatility, the design was copied from one tribe to another, each adding their own personal improvements, and spread further across the country. The advent of horses from around 1650 onwards made the distances they could cover on their journeys that much greater, and so the Tipi spread too, but each tribe making distinguishable design variations, ranging from the profile of the main structure, to the shape and size of the smoke flaps and door.

Canvas eventually replaced buffalo hide as it became available, and designs changed to allow for the properties of the new material- canvas growing tighter with moisture instead of slacker, and not being being pegged directly through the hide but peg loops being added to keep the main canvas pegged to the ground.