Young Blood's & Morning Star's Home of Information

How Tipi's were Constructed
in The Days of Long Ago


Tanning of The Hides

Before the tipi can be constructed, the hides must be tanned. For tipis, we used cow buffalo (female buffalo). The hides are fleshed (cleaned) of all adhering scraps of meat and fat, then laced into lodge pole frames, where they are dried as stiff and firm as thin boards. Then, standing upon the hide, smooth side up, the tanner, with elkhorn-handled, steel-bladed instrument the shape of a hoe, chipped it to about one-half its original thickness and rubbed it with grease (bear grease was commonly use). When that was thoroughly soaked in, the hide was then well smeared with a mixture of boiled liver and brains, folded and rolled, and laid away for several days in order for the mixture to neutralize its glue. Then came the hardest work:  The tanner work for an hour or so at a time to rub and seesaw the hide against upright, stretched thongs of rawhide until it became as soft and pliable as velvet. The end results is a well-tanned cow buffalo hide to use in the construction of a good quality tipi. The liver was used to break down the fiber of the hide, and the brains were use to soften the hide. Some also use the gall bladder for breaking down the fiber.

The bull hides were used as well, but they were used for clothing. Usually for the soles of moccasins and leggings because it was thicker and courser, which in turn, made it stronger for clothing and would wear longer.

In all honesty, the tanning of the hides is a long and strenuous work. Most are worked over long periods of time, and could take several days to complete the process. Today, these methods are still widely used. However, the book I got this information from could be off in its information and I wouldn't know the difference. So if another can tell me the facts about tipi construction and the tanning of the hides, please feel free to use my contact page to do so.

Tipi Construction

See This Page:  Tipi Construction

This tipi construction page is a good way to see how they were constructed even in the days of yesteryear. It uses more modern methods...but has the same basic structure.

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