Teepees in our house

Edit– Look at the comments to see more thoughts!

*Preface: This is a messy, rambling post. I wanted to show an example of my internal thought process. Mostly, to demonstrate that I reaaalllyyyy don’t have all the answers when it comes to parenting with privilege. I’m imperfect and do things that I am not proud of. This is one example.

Teepees as decorations in kids’ rooms…


*Not the teepee in A’s room. A’s room is not this pretty, lol. 

My husband just bought one, and I’m uncomfortable with the cultural appropriation associated with it. I’m a white woman with no known connection to indigenous tribes from the Great Plains in the US (where I understand teepees originated). Do I have a right to have a toy teepee in my house for my son to play in? We didn’t buy it from an indigenous source, which can make having objects from other cultures OK. We bought it off Amazon, where random people are taking ideas from oppressed cultures and making money off of them. That’s what makes me uncomfortable.

I gotta admit though, it’s damn cute (or has the potential to be—right now it’s really wrinkly). A lot of people I love and respect have one/want to get one for their kids/future kids. I think I’ve been brainwashed by the Pinterest aesthetic…send haaaaaalp.

Is it ok if we just call it a ‘tent’? Or is that cultural appropriation and white washing?

And the most annoying part is A loves it. He just wants to lie in it and read books and every night. It’d be so much easier if he just didn’t care about it.

I know what to do (I think). There is no objective ‘right’ way to parent for social justice, but I know (read: think?) in my gut that I don’t feel comfortable with a toy teepee in my house. That’s not to say I’m judging other families who have one. You’re not a bad person, but this is a decision made for my family.

5 Replies to “Teepees in our house”

  1. Hi Liv,
    I have a gut reaction to this post which is motivating me to comment and that is just to ask what it is about the structure that’s appealing and let that guide you in what you and A and Baris do with it.

    Is it because the teepee design itself is inviting in a singularly specific way? Or is it just that we all do like to snuggle up inside a “tent?”

    After all, Eskimos have igloos, central Asians have yurts, Arabs have those beautiful bedouin tents, Romany traveled in covered wagons, early Homo Sapiens curled up in caves. The teepee is just another form of housing that human beings naturally used to bring family/tribe members together to make a home. So the teepee is possibly a great opportunity for you – in your own wonderfully aware and inimitable way – to introduce A to the lifestyles of indigenous peoples and what it is we all naturally share in our houses with our most beloved ones. And what better way to do it than with a replica of one of those homes inside your home?

    It’s always weird for me to dare to comment on your posts, since I’ve never had the challenges and joys of having been a parent. But you lure me in with your expression of values that I share with you, not just for young children but all of us children of the world.

    much love to you – always!
    Aunt S.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aunt Stannie– I love your comment! I agree with you–I do want to expose A to different ways of life and cultures. And I think there is some universal to the human experience about tents/shelter. The thing I am struggling with, though, is that this is just a teepee from Amazon. If we had bought it from an indigenous individual or a tribe–and they were being financially compensated for sharing their culture–then I would feel more comfortable. I’m not sure how I feel that it’s just a random company making money off of a specific tribal cultural icon.

    But then at the same time, I know that we’ve already bought it. The money is already spent. So how does that change the whole dynamic? I don’t know what to do! Definitely feeling conflicted about it…Thanks for pushing my thinking forward though ❤


    1. Given you’ve purchased it and there’s no need to return it (since A loves it and there’s much you can do with it to nurture social justice in him) cut yourself some slack about that and consider balancing the scales by making a donation to an organization that is supporting the rights of Native Americans.

      There’s 350.org (or some other environmental group) which has protested the Keystone XL pipeline and its infringement on the rights of Native Americans. There’s also a number of non-profits working to prevent domestic abuse of Native American women. I can’t recommend which one will give you the most bang for your buck but I can help with some research if you want.
      Start here: http://www.niwrc.org/tribal-coalitions.

      Can you make a donation equal to the amount you spent on the Amazon product? No worries if you can’t. We can only do what we can do. Given what I observe about your passion for social justice (which is tightly coupled with environmental, economic, and gender justice), however, I know you’ll even use that bit of information wisely.
      ❤ to you and yours

      Liked by 1 person

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