We Are Cree

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A Photo Description of Raising the Teepee

A total of thirteen lodge poles are tied together to create the inside structure of the Teepee. The first picture shows half of those poles in position. The second picture shows the final poles being tied in by one person while the other person holds them in place. The third picture shows all thirteen poles tied into place while Roy and Judy Louis’ adorable grandson, Colton watches every move.

Once the thirteen poles are in place to form the structure, the Teepee is carefully wrapped around them. In the foreground is Chief Wilton Littlechild who was honored by being appointed the Honorary Chief for the Maskwacis Crees and also honored by the Chiefs of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations as the International Chief for Treaty No. 6 Confederacy. He is currently working on the World Indigenous Nations Games, which are scheduled for 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Inside the Teepee looking up is the the Elder, Johnnie Crier, who conducted the Blessing of the Water Ceremony that took place inside the Teepee with a full Lodge of about 35 people in attendance.

These are the painted sticks used to close the front of the Teepee. Nothing of metal is used.

In photo #15 above, Johnnie, the Elder who conducts the Water Blessing Ceremony, walks into the raised Teepee for the first time. Just above in photos #16 and #17, you see the backside of the Teepee as the builders continue to stake it down with the wooden stakes. The insignia of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the front and the “Working Together” Logo on the back tell you this Teepee is also used in a special program that was created by Roy Louis in which at risk First Nation teens become RCMP Cadets and turn their lives around.

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The Teepee is almost complete and ready for the Water Blessing Ceremony. Above is the doorway into a mystical, magical world of Reverence for Life, Respect for the Rhythms of Mother Nature, the Knowingness of a Spirit World and the Love of ones Brothers and Sisters. Enter with an Open Heart and a Humble stance.

In the first photos #’s 1-3, we talk about how thirteen lodge poles are tied together to create the inside structure for the Teepee. Two more lodge poles make up the complete Teepee, however; and they are placed on the outside where they hold up the top flaps. So, it actually takes fifteen poles to build a Cree Teepee. Photo #20 shows the last pole being placed in position as Roy Louis, the Host of the event looks on.

In Photo # 21, the fifteen Lodge Poles point strongly to the sky as the bottom points of the top flaps that allow air in and smoke out are tied to the ground with string. The Teepee raising is a work of performance art by performers who want no credit or even an audience. It went up in less than two hours thanks to the focused efforts of three hard working Teepee raisers who also served in the Ceremony in the same focused and humble way.


In Photo #22 (a Power Number), the Lodge Poles blend with the bare winter tree branches that adorn the front of the Louis’ residence. The Teepee sits majestically waiting to serve the people however it can--a work of Art in its own right, an ingenious creation by an incredible culture of people who know what it means to live close to the land. A line from a poem once read comes to mind: “I can’t wait ‘til we’re making tin cans out of our last Mercedes, living off the land in our Teepees.”

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We hope you have enjoyed our Photographic Description of “Raising the Teepee”.  Be sure to continue your virtual attendance of the first Invitational Cree Blessing of the Water Ceremonies that had not been done for over 65 years by clicking to the next page, “The Blessing of the Water Ceremony”.

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