With a nomadic lifestyle and survival dependent on buffalo, many Native American tribes relied on the tipi. Tipis provided shelter that was sturdy enough to endure the elements of nature but also easy to transport.
Tipis were carefully engineered conical structures designed to create practical and livable homes. They had a simple design with a frame of slender wood poles, and a protective layer of animal hides or canvas.
A unique feature of the tipi as its portability. When game, fuel, or water became scarce, the entire village packed its belongings and was ready to move. Homes and furnishings of the entire camp were packed upon horse-or-dog drawn travois and could be on the move in twenty minutes.
Used to transport clothing, tools, dried meat, and other valuables, parfleche cases were made of raw buffalo hide and were painted with colorful geometric patterns. The term, a combination of the French words “parer” meaning to parry or defend and “fleche” meaning arrow, described the strength of the hide, which was tough enough to be used as a shield.