Contests Guidelines For Judging tipis
On this page you will find contest information for judging tipis. It is a very comprehensive list of information to help the novice and expert look at lodges in a more discerning manner. These are NOT rules, but GUIDELINES only. You can change them to fit your needs or see what you might want to add to your tipi. These guidelines have been used to help judge the National Tipi Competition since 1990 and other encampments around the country. They are based on 35 years of research on written/photographs/oral history of tribal tipis and the more contemporary ideas of lodges. And on notes and conversations with other learned tipi buffs (Native and nonnative) who have studied the material culture of teepees. If you have any questions or suggestions, e-mail me.
Supplemental Information in judging Tipis:
1. Doors of tipis should be open for judging.
2. Judges can ask questions of the tipi owner. Some questions can be about the
purpose of materials in the lodge, time period portrayed, type of tipi, etc.
3. There are about 6 or so main time periods of tipis seen in competition. Time
periods are very approximate.
I. Traditional (1800-1860) before the main contact of white men to the
Fur trade times of the West. Can be brain-tanned tipis to canvas.
II. Reservation (1860-1890) most tribes have been moved on to reservations.
Very few buffalo tipis, lots more cow hide covers and lots of canvas.
III. Wild West Shows (1880-1920) The showing of tipis and Native American
culture to the world.
IV. Transitional (1930-1960?) Very few tipis, but on their way back. Mostly
Seen at powwows.
V. Contemporary or Modern (1960?-2000 and going.) New traditional
Tipis and camps. Interpretations of the past.
4. People who own tipis.
I. Indians-they started the lodges.
II. Hobbyists (powwow) makes any dance look great.
III. Buckskinners or re-enactors who portray the fur trade era.
IV. New agers. (Crystal People)
V. Hippies...Older version of the New agers.
VI. Mother earthers. Back to the land people. (Hippies who got older.)
VII. ABOS...just discovered the old stuff...deal in old weapons and living.
(Will run into the other groups and fit right in.)
VIII. Boy Scouts...they will either die out or join the other groups when
becoming an adult.
IX. Campers...love to just use the tipi for what it is.
X. People who live full time in a tipi. They either are building a house or
just love the outdoors or are writing a book on living in a tipi.
XI. Buffalo Days re-enactors (1860-1880) new group that just started in the
last 10 years. Love to play adult Indians and Cowboys, but then, so do I.
XII. Weekend warrior, owns a tipi and only puts it up about 1 to 5 times a
year, if he or she is lucky. They can fit into any group, but they love
that lodge and enjoy what time they spend camping.
you do NOT want to find in a traditional tipi.
1. Mandela's and dream catchers. Not part of a traditional tipi or camp. Mandela's came out of the 1960's.
2. Lawn chairs.
3. Plank wood backrests.
4. Modern cooking equipment.
5. Leg bone lacing pins. Lacing pins were wood and not much bigger than a #2 pencil in thickness.
6. Very decorated pegs.
7. Highly decorated streamers.
8. Cow or buffalo skulls or any skulls for that matter. The use of the Buffalo skull is for the Sun Dance
ceremony and not usually an everyday item in or around a tipi. These are ceremonial and not generally for
the public view.
9. Awning attached to the front of a tipi. This is a Buckskinner item that has just come around in the last 20
years or so.
10. Any modern materials. Very interpretive area.
11. Large rawhide boxes. The Sioux were the only ones who had the boxes and those came around in the
1870's or so. Sizes were about 15"x15"x18" or so. There were some other type boxes, but they are special
folded rawhide in the shape of a box. Very rare.
12. Large wrought iron cook sets inside the tipi. Remember, you are cooking in your bedroom/living room.
13. Lots of items hanging around the tipi. If you want to impress the neighbors...OK...but if you are portraying a nomadic camp,
all material is in containers ready for the next move.