I chose to make a paper tipi. This is a key symbol people that are not familiar with indigenous culture relate all indigenous people too. Most people do not realize the sacred nature of the tipi. You can go online and but tipis for pets and humans; this exasperates the issue of cultural appropriation. I understand that my version also does such things but it is created to make a point.
When I worked at the provincial parks there was a traveling tipi that would go from park to park. It was the job of the interpreters, who were normally from a euro west background, to set up the tipi for “indigenous days”. A common concern that interpreters had was that they felt uncomfortable with building the tipi. The uncomfort came from the lack of connection to the tipi itself. We, as interpreters, did not want to offend someone whose belief system was rooted in the tipi. I believe we had permission from one member of an indigenous tribe but their word cannot encompass the word of every indigenous, Métis, and Inuit person out there.
Although putting up tipis are a great way to create hands on learning related to culture it is my belief that it would only be appropriate to have someone of indigenous belief build it. Better yet, have that same person talk to the students about the importance of the tipi. As Ho writes, “The dominant industrialized culture has resulted in a false dichotomy manifesting
a metaphor of hierarchy that promotes human over nature, industry over subsistence,
mind over body, reason over emotion, white body over black and brown bodies.” If I were to blindly build a tipi without advisement then promote the white body over other cultures.