Background

IMG_3946Owner of Sagebrush Tipi Works, Debra is an artist who has been making tipis since 1997.

As a child, I was deeply influenced by my Grandfather, Kenneth Victor Williams, a Colorado artist of Chippewa descent and a long-standing Honorary Member of the Lone Feather Council of Colorado Springs. So, growing up, I was surrounded by the soul-stirring images and stories of Native American traditions. I have developed a deep, abiding reverence for the Way of Beauty, the Good Red Road. I have found that there is a subtle, indescribable experience of Great Mystery when one spends time in a Tipi -- and I have devoted myself to spreading that experience to others.

One of the most frequent questions folks ask me is: How did you get started making Tipis? Well, the way it was.......I feel the Tipis saved my life.....
In 1997, the year I became a Grandmother, I found myself in a desperate situation. The fabric shop I had been running for a few years suddenly went out of business. I was a single mom with 2 young sons still at home, and now unemployed. I responded to a job ad for a seamstress at White Buffalo Lodges, a small Tipi company in the town where I lived. They hired me on the spot. However, the owner said he could not train me, since he had relied on the former seamstress to know how to do this, and she had left the job several months before. He hoped I could figure it out! I had learned to sew from my Dad at the age of 10, and I had been making custom clothing for many years, so I had the necessary skills, although I had no experience operating an industrial sewing machine. There was one finished Tipi left in stock for me to examine and with the help of the classic book “The Indian Tipi” by Reginald and Gladys Laubin, I was able to teach myself how to make Tipis! Some months later, I was asked if I would be willing to try my hand at painting them. I had never thought of myself as an “artist”, though I had always been very much a craftsperson. So I was also given this opportunity to discover myself as an artist. After working there for a couple of years, I left the position to launch my own Tipi business. I began to implement certain improvements and refinements in the basic design I had learned. This process of finding the “weak spots” and improving them has continued over the years. I can say with confidence that my Tipis are the finest available.

SAGEBRUSH Tipis live in many states, including: Montana, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, California, Wyoming, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont.