In 2007, I built a 12-foot teepee. It’s the smallest “full-size” teepee. I would have built a bigger one, but we didn’t have enough flat ground on which to build it. As it is, we had to create a flat place to stand the teepee. We build a platform of railroad planks, sand and earth. There was a lot of sweating and heaving going on for several weeks before we could even start putting the teepee up.

I bought the teepee — plain and unadorned — from Nomadics Tipi, a wonderful company that has helped construct teepees all over the world. If you have time, take a look at their site. They have a wonderful collection of pictures from everywhere, literally, on earth.

Building the platform on which to stand the teepee was a lot of work … all of which was done by Garry and Owen. When that piece was done, I had to make poles. You can buy poles and if you buy them, they are smooth and straight and pretty easy to use. They are also wildly expensive. Not the poles. The cost for bringing poles from where they grow — mostly in the Pacific northwest — to wherever you live would have cost around $1000. And that was just the delivery.

The teepee was my favorite place to be on a snowy afternoon.

I couldn’t do that, so I made the poles myself. Owen and I went into the woods and chose a couple of dozen young hardwood trees that weren’t too crooked. After that, me and my draw knives peeled the bark and cut all the little pieces off the poles. After which I sanded the poles. It took a long time and although I got better at it over time, it was still a lot of work.

I painted the door from a design I found. It’s not a very good rendition, but it was as good as I could do. The interior design were the hand-prints of our family, forming a friendship ring.

Nothing makes you respect the work done by supposedly primitive people more than trying to do the same thing yourself. It isn’t all that primitive and it definitely isn’t easy!

I wrote a book based on the building of the teepee. You can find it on Amazon as “The 12-Foot Teepee” by Marilyn Armstrong.

The teepee could not last forever, but its name lives on … and that is why the name of my blog isΒ 

31 thoughts on “THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE

  1. jcalberta August 14, 2017 / 1:15 am

    I bet you’re aware of the book ‘Two Little Savages’ by E.T. Seton. ? After my brothers, Bruce and Doug, read it, they too built a TeePee. It was cozy in there – to my surprise. Brother Richard and I tried to ‘one up’ them by building a fort out of railroad ties. When tried to sleep in there it was a fail. It stunk like creosote – and the ‘skeeters’ were getting in. We didn’t last the night.


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 1:39 am

      The teepee was VERY comfortable. I don’t think I ever slept better than I did in my teepee. If there had been a bathroom in there I might have moved in πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lwbut August 14, 2017 / 1:15 am

    You really should include those pics in your book Spike! πŸ˜‰

    It looks fantastic – as it should considering the effort that went into it πŸ™‚



    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 1:36 am

      There are a lot of pictures in my book. And it was very hard getting them in there, but I don’t think they show up in the Kindle version. They ARE there in the paperback.


      • lwbut August 14, 2017 / 5:10 am

        Aahhhh! I should buy the book huh? πŸ™‚



        • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 12:36 pm

          You could. I’d ship you one, but the cost of sending it would be three times the price of the book and it would get mutilated in progress.


          • lwbut August 15, 2017 / 1:59 am

            Most likely!

            I can see the pics now on your blog anyway! πŸ™‚



            • Marilyn Armstrong August 15, 2017 / 3:55 am

              You know, I’ve never read the Kindle version! I just took the paperback and ran it through the “kindle translater.” I’ll have to really look at it! The pictures are nice. All black & white and there are a lot of them.


  3. angloswiss August 14, 2017 / 1:36 am

    I read your book and enjoyed it very much. You have some good photos herevand am sure they are good memories.


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 1:38 am

      I really miss my teepee, even though it has been gone for four years now. I thought about rebuilding it but I don’t have the energy anymore. I’m glad I took so many pictures of it!


  4. Paula August 14, 2017 / 6:05 am

    Marilyn, I am so impressed. I am actually mind-blown. You made a structure (not for this challenge, but still) and you took fabulous photos of it, and you shared it with me! It does not look easy to me. Really wonderful achievement. I love the penultimate photo, the one with a slight sepia tone. Gorgeous composition!


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 11:17 am

      I truly loved my teepee. My heart was in that structure. It seemed to fit you premise and it was nice to dig back into the original photos and see what I could find. Thanks, Paula, for giving me this opportunity!


  5. swo8 August 14, 2017 / 11:47 am

    That was quite an undertaking, Marilyn. There’s a lot of symbolism to it. It was like you had to ground yourself to find peace.


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 12:31 pm

      It was first just a DIY project, but it became a lot more as I worked on it. It was the first full on physical activity I’d had in a long time. It gave me a lot of time to think. I loved the thinking and I adored the teepee.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 August 14, 2017 / 1:43 pm

        It’s very symbolic to me.


  6. Bette A. Stevens August 14, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    Loved the post, Marilyn. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your wonderful memoir, “The 12-Foot Teepee; and highly recommend it to any of your readers who have not yet had the chance to read it. As for me, I know I’ll be revisiting it again one of these days and was delighted to reminisce a bit through your post! πŸ™‚ xo


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 14, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Every now and again, I get sentimental about my teepee. I miss it. I know i’m not going to build another one. I barely got that one completed … but it was “my place.” I’m glad you enjoyed the book πŸ˜€ I loved yours — the long and the short, both — too!


  7. Suzanne August 15, 2017 / 9:34 pm

    What a fabulous teepee. It must be a wonderful space to sit in. I really like the design you painted on the door and the fact that you sourced the poles yourself. It must have being really difficult to build.


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 15, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      The building is easy if you have good instructions — which we had. The poles were difficult, especially in the beginning because I’d never done anything like it before. I loved hand building the poles, but they were not straight like proper poles so the teepee was never as tightly fitted as it should have been which may have shortened its life. Although not by much. It’s just wood and canvas and this is a rainy climate. Teepees were designed for dryer areas — deserts, or high desert, like the Dakotas. They’re fine in snow, but rain is hard on canvas, even with anti-mold stuff imbued in the fabric.

      I loved it. I don’t think any place I’ve ever been was as peaceful as the teepee. And I don’t think it was only because I built it. I have heard this from everyone who has spent time in a teepee. There is something about them that has a very comforting, relaxing feel.

      I don’t sleep well, but I could always sleep in the teepee. And I never minded being in there and doing nothing. The ONLY place I’ve ever done nothing and liked it πŸ™‚ I always tell people if they have room to put one up, it’s a great thing to do. The company I linked in the post are wonderful and will help you find the right teepee for wherever you live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne August 15, 2017 / 10:01 pm

        I’ve found teepees to be wonderful places to spend time in too. I like your comment that it was a place where you could truly do nothing.
        I live in a wet climate over here in Australia and am currently renting so I’m not really in a position to get one at present. I have created a Native American Medicine Wheel in my backyard though. I find that it very relaxing to sit in and it to is a place where it’s possible to do nothing and feel completely at ease doing it. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marilyn Armstrong August 15, 2017 / 11:00 pm

          For busy people, just finding a place where we don’t NEED to be busy is a big deal. Peace is rare. We have very busy brains.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Olga August 16, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    Love the textures captured in your B/W teepees. Never seen one in snow. Amazing! ❀


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 16, 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Most people take the teepee down in winter. I liked it best in winter — and we have a LOT of winter around here!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Olga August 16, 2017 / 6:31 pm

        You were quite the adventurous spirit, Marilyn. ❀


        • Marilyn Armstrong August 16, 2017 / 7:41 pm

          Sometimes. I spent most of my time being absolutely dependable and non-adventurous, then every once in a while, I’d bubble up and do something that left them all saying “Huh?” Made the family nervous. I was completely predictable. Except when I wasn’t.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Olga August 16, 2017 / 7:52 pm

            A life well lived! Always great to bubble up.


  9. Oliana August 17, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    I truly enjoyed your book and looking at these photos brought it all back to me πŸ™‚


    • Marilyn Armstrong August 17, 2017 / 11:57 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and I’m sure you would have liked the teepee, too πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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