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How To Make a Teepee

The Native Americans of the North American plains lived in portable dwellings called teepees. You can construct your own on your next camping trip.


  • Step 1: Peg the bottom of the cover to the ground with cord secured to 18-inch by 1-inch-diameter hardwood pegs. Re-arrange the lodge poles inside the teepee so that they stretch the cover.
  • Step 2: Pull the cover around the lodge pole framework, leaving the upper section of the tripod uncovered and leaving space between the teepee cover and the ground to let smoke out. Skewer the overlapping sections together with 12-inch by ⅜-inch-diameter wooden pins.
  • TIP: To peg the cover, place a small stone on the inside of the canvas and tie it in place with a length of cord from the outside. Then tie the cord to a stake outside the teepee.
  • Step 3: Insert two poles into the pockets of the smoke flaps from the outside of the teepee. Change the position of the smoke flaps by moving these poles.
  • FACT: The paintings on traditional teepees often depicted supernatural beings encountered during visions by the teepee's owner.
  • Step 4: Paint your teepee, and then move in.
  • Step 5: Place nine more poles against the tripod to form a cone-shaped frame and lash them together at the top. Fasten the teepee cover to the last pole and place it opposite where the door will be.
  • Step 6: Make a tripod from three of the strongest lodge poles, tied together with rope at a height slightly above the height of the cover. Secure the tripod to the ground with a 36-inch x 1.5-inch-diameter anchor peg.
  • TIP: If you plan to build a fire in your teepee, be sure to use a fabric treated with a fire-retardant.
  • Step 7: Sew waterproof cloth into the shape of a half circle with a 30-foot diameter.
  • Step 8: Sew two 6-foot by 3-foot rectangular smoke flaps on opposite sides of the center of the cover's straight edge, long side against straight edge. Sew a triangular pocket in each flap to serve as a pole support.
  • Step 9: Cut two half-circular openings near the ends of the straight edge of the cover, equidistant from the center.
  • TIP: When the teepee is assembled, the cover will be pulled around on itself to form a tilted cone and the half circles will connect to form a circular door.
  • : Never build a fire inside a teepee without first providing for adequate ventilation. If you plan to have fires inside your teepee, construct it with smoke flaps and sides that can be raised to allow for ventilation.

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