Manataka American Indian Council





Manataka American Indian Council

P.O. Box 476

Hot Springs, AR 71902-0476





Tipi Packages sold by Manataka do not include poles, ropes, and ground stakes.   Purchase these items prior to starting assembly.  18-24 poles, 50-100 ft of rope and 18-24 ground stakes are needed.  It is always a good idea to have extras of each.




The length of the poles should be 2-4 feet longer than the tipi diameter, or longer if preferred.  Ribbons can be tied to the tips of the poles, except for smoke flap poles.  Peal all the bark off the poles with a draw knife.  Make sure every inch is smooth - so it will not cut or tear the cover.   Sanding of the poles is recommended to reduce the possibility of tearing the canvas cover.  You may also want to consider applying two or three coats of a good clear wood sealer.




N =    North Tripod

S =    South Tripod

D =    Door Pole

LP =  Lifting Pole

SF =  Smoke Flap Poles (2)


Select the three strongest poles for the tripod (North, South and Door).  Another pole is the longest pole and is called the lifting pole (LP), and two twisted or bendable, medium-size poles for the smoke flap poles.


Lay the cover out flat, right side up (the smooth side of the seam is the right side).  One of the tripod poles is laid on the cover near the door (D) even with the bottom hem.  The other two are laid on the cover, side by side, running down the middle even with the bottom hem.



The three poles cross and be tied together 15" beyond the tipi cover.  Label and mark the poles with tape or paint them to omit this step next time you erect the tipi.  The poles should be tied together firmly, but not too tight.  When the tripod is set up, the knot will tighten and if it is too tight the poles may break.


The poles should be tied with a rope long enough to reach the ground plus 9' to 10' extra feet so that it can be wrapped around the bundle several times and staked down in the center of the tipi in the event of strong winds.



The tripod is stood up by walking under the poles. Have one person hold the rope tightly to steady the lift process.  Spread the tripod apart so the ends are spread evenly in the approximate diameter of the tipi.  Starting at the front, stack the rest of the poles in crotch top.  Leave a space for the lifting pole directly opposite the door.  Take the rope hanging down from the top of the tripod poles and go outside the frame and walk the rope around the tipi poles four times to wrap all the poles together at the crotch.  The remaining length of the rope should then be brought back inside the frame and wrapped around an inside pole or staked to the ground at the center in case of high winds.




The cover should now be rolled from both sides to the center along the lift pole, having the tie at the top exposed.  Slide the lift pole (LP) under the cover and tie the pole tightly to the cover using the tie between the smoke flaps. 


The butt end of the pole should be even with the bottom of the cover.  Have someone hold the butt end to the ground and lift the pole and cover into the open spot in the crotch left at the back of the frame.


Start up at the top pinhole and slide wooden lacing pins into the holes that hold the front of the cover together.  The left side goes over the right side.


Adjust the poles and pull down the cover tight.  Stake out the bottom and adjust the poles from the inside again so the cover lays smooth.  Put the ends of the two remaining poles in the smoke flap pockets provided at the top corners of the smoke flaps.


N = North Pole

S = South Pole

D = Door Pole

LP = Lift Pole


The example here is only a 10' tipi (kinda small).  Notice the shape is not a circle but an egg-shaped oval. 






Dig a hole about 10" X 15" off center under the center pole bundle and line with stones (not river stones as they may burst from the heat.




Make a bull boat cover using strong but bendable twigs, canvas or other waterproof material.  Attach tie downs if needed. If the bundle is tight and the cover is properly adjusted and tied, a bull boat is not needed during most rain showers, but heavy down- pours may require a bull boat cover.





Tie as many drip ropes as needed just below the crotch with a bucket tied under the loop.  Use the water for cooking and drinking.



Take care to place your tipi in a location where water will quickly roll away.  As extra insurance, dig a 6" X 6" moat around the tipi with an outlet ditch at the back.  Pile the dirt between the tipi and the moat.






Never store a wet tipi.  Make sure it perfectly dry before storing - mold will rot the canvas. 


Do not store in an air-tight container - allow the container to 'breath'.


Immediately repair any cuts or tears to the cover or they may spread.  Keep a repair kit (canvas and sinew) handy in case of a tear.


Large inside fires are unnecessary and dangerous.


Keep a water bucket inside just in case a spark gets loose.


Use only debarked poles to prevent tears to the cover.


In case of rain, dig a small trench around the tipi with an outlet in the back leading downhill.  Or stack hay bales around the outside.


Sprinkle hay around on the inside to collect moisture before laying down plastic ground cover.


Occasionally 'smoke' the tipi using green twigs to prevent bug infestation.


Occasionally treat the cover to prevent mildew, rot and insect infestation.




Remove Shoes before entering.

Move clockwise around the fire.


Never walk between a person and the fire pit (symbolic of the Creator).


Eldest person enters first followed by the next eldest, youngest enters last.


Guests sit on the left, family on the right.


Never allow guests to touch anything without permission of the Elder.


Speak only with permission of the Elder.  Loud talk is discouraged.







Tipi Painting: Ernest Thompson Seton

World's Largest Teepee: Red Hawk Trading Company

Teepee Making - Version 2:







Tipis can be found all over the world in dozens of cultures. These fascinating dwellings are experiencing a resurgence in popularity because of their unique qualities: they are easy to transport, comfortable to live in for long periods of time, and weather resistant. Linda Holley explores the many different methods of tipi construction and includes dozens of drawings, photographs, illustrations, and diagrams that show how to construct, decorate, and transport a tipi. 248 pp, paperback.  ISBN: 158655115  March 2007 


"Ms. Holley breaks new ground with her extensive diagrams for for canvas tipis..." -- Peter Durkin, TipiCorner Editor, Whispering Wind magazine


Subjects include:
--History of the tipi             --Living in a tipi
--Construction                    --Decoration
--Poles                                --Materials
--Pitching a tipi                   --Transportation

SKU: 511-6         $18.95 + s/h    


NativeVoices - THE TIPI: Traditional Native American Shelter

By Adolf Hungrywolf

A collection of vintage photographs and historical texts presents an overall view of tipi life among various Native peoples.  $ 21.95 + s/h


THE INDIAN TIPI: Its History, Construction, and Use...
by Reginald and Gladys Laubin

Reginald and Gladys Laubin are recognized as the world's foremost authorities on the subject of American Indian tipis.  Their excellent book offers great information about tipi etiquette, making a tipi lodge, assembly, storage, painting, maintenance, care and more!   University of Oklahoma Press, 1990 2nd edition Soft Cover, Paper reprint of the 1977 second edition.  Book News, Inc. Portland, OR   Price:  ISBN: 0806122366 $ 19.50 + s/h  

Proceeds from book purchases go to support the nonprofit, cultural, educational and religious purposes of the Manataka American Indian Council.  Thank you for your support.

Notice: Occasionally books may be discontinued or out of stock without prior notice. With written permission, your order may be filled from the 'shelf'.  Shelf books are new, but some may be slightly discolored or sale tags may be still attached. Fulfillment rate: 98.6%.



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