Sunday, November 1, 2009

Modoc COE Campground. Part IV. Two-Feathers’ Tipi.

+Click here for the first post in this series.

Last post I mentioned the appearance of an unusual shape on campsite # 11 here at the Modoc COE Campground. Even gave you a distant view of it to ponder.

Teeepee Well, here’s a close-up! Yes, it’s a genuine tipi. Fully sixteen or so feet high. The creator of this unusual shelter, Tommy Two-Feathers, kindly agreed to give me a tour. And even agreed to do an audio interview explaining its design.

This is the first time I’ve tried to integrate audio files into a Blogger post like this. But give a listen, as Tommy Two-Feathers describes his creation. Just click the white triangle at the left of the bar below to start the audio. Click it again to pause.

Reliable Sign Tommy Two-Feathers explained that he ordered the tipi from Reliable Tent and Tipi. It arrived without design on its white fire-retardant canvas walls. He also cut and cured his own tipi poles, from bamboo.

After extensive research, Two-Feathers painted the canvas with designs appropriate to a Sioux plains tipi. I asked him to explain the significance of some of the designs.

Wheel First, the “medicine wheel” design on the rear of the tipi:

Then I noticed that the background of the designs, so to speak, seemed to be carefully planned as well. From bottom to top.

Earth Green Tan Sky Black Here’s Two-Feathers’ explanation of their significance:

Moving counter-clockwise around the tipi, the next symbol was what looked like a cross.

Cross And, in fact that’s just what it was!

Next was an unmistakable buffalo.

Buffalo Two-Feathers explained the importance of the buffalo to Plains Indians, and why he selected it as one of the images on his tipi.

Moving around the tipi, the next design was taken from one of Remington’s most famous works.

Warrior Two-Feathers explains why he selected this Remington image for his tipi design:

We then approached the front of the tipi. That part facing the view of the lake. I asked about the complex arrangement of poles and flaps at the top.

Flaps Here is his reply.

Just below the smoke flaps you can see in the photo above two feathers stuck into the lacing of the tipi. An unmistakable name plate!

The tipi door was decorated with another interesting circular design.

DreamCatcher I asked Two-Feathers to explain its significance.

Two more designs drew my attention.

Coyote The first was a wolf, howling at the moon.

Sun And the second looked to be a stylized image of the sun.

At the end, Three-Feathers allowed me to enter his tipi to take a few more photos.

Inside View This photo should give you an idea of what the sides of the tipi look like. With the inside liner that protects from the wind and the rain, as well as the appearance of the painting and designs as they appear on the inside when the sun shines through. The circle on the right is the open door.

Peak Inside Here is a view of the peak of the tipi, looking up through the smoke ventilation hole, with the bamboo poles clearly visible.

Fire Pit And finally, the thing most remarkable to me: the fire pit inside the tipi. Out past the aluminum foil you can see the carpet that covers the floor. Two-Feathers told me that a genuine tipi would use buffalo skins there for comfort. But he didn’t have any around. And did have the carpet!

From Road So, there you have it. The unusual shape on site# 11. Thanks again to Tommy Two-Feathers for his generous contribution of time and expertise. Those of you who have further questions for Two-Feathers can e-mail them to me at I will forward them to him.

Let’s hope this experiment with embedded audio files is a success. If not, here are some direct links to the sound files that will play in your default sound player.


  1. Wonderful post, Bob. The audio was clear as a bell, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Tommy Two-Feathers. Thank you for sharing!

    Lynn Thye

  2. I second Lynn's assessment, Bob. Enjoyed the interview very much. A great feature! Thanks.

  3. Two Feathers AKA Lone Wolf is a very interesting guy. When I think of Two Feathers I think of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was a naturalist and philosopher and is probably best known for saying, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
    Two Feathers takes the road less traveled and hopefully not out of desperation. Good for him.