White Buffalo Lodges September 2004 by Anika Slininger
Photographed by Anne Sherwood
For a serene moment, the sun broke through the clouds and lit the three tipis standing in the clearing by the creek. A light breeze caught the streamers tied at the top of their poles. Not purely a decorative element, the streamers have long been used to make note of wind direction; an indicator to adjust the tent's smoke flaps accordingly. From the top down, everything about a tipi is not only beautiful, but practical as well.
While a few still call the tipi a primary residence, an increasing number have adapted these shelters as unique guest houses, play areas, and gathering spaces. Jem Blucher and Jim Bonawitz, co-owners of White Buffalo Lodges in Livingston, have seen their tipis set up on decking, decorated with Native American furnishings, used for catered events, and even completed with guest beds and sofas. They offer Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, and Blackfeet designs each possessing subtle differences in pole set-up, door style and smoke flaps.
"The three pole is a little more solid because of how it's tied," Blueher said of their most commonly requested traditional Sioux design. "But they all work great, and they've all stood the test of time."
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