How to Make a Plains Native American Teepee Design

Written by matthew huntington
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How to Make a Plains Native American Teepee Design
Plains Indian-style tepees feature geometric designs in bold colours. (NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

The tepees of the North American Plains Indians are roomy dwellings that can accommodate a fire, allowing them to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Traditional tepees were made of sticks and animal skins that had been painted with designs. Today's tepees are made of canvas, but they can still be decorated with native patterns.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 15-foot by 30-foot piece of 227gr canvas
  • Pencil
  • Sponge
  • Oil paints or house paints in bright colours as well as brown and black
  • Paintbrushes

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut corners off canvas to form a semicircle 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. Spread canvas out on a flat dry area.

  2. 2

    Pencil your design on the canvas. Traditional Plains Indians tepees feature geometric designs, like circles, lines and triangles, as well as pictures of plants, animals and constellations. Animal images used for tepee decoration include bison, deer, crows, wolves, grizzly bears, antelope, turtles and bulls.

  3. 3

    Wet canvas lightly with sponge. This is to stop canvas from absorbing too much paint.

  4. 4

    Paint the designs on the tepee and allow it to dry. Assemble the finished tepee.

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