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Teepee Etiquette

Editor’s note: The following excerpt on “Teepee Etiquette — The Unwritten Law of the Lodge,” was taken from The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore (1912) by Ernest Thompson Seton. Seton said he gathered these maxims on American Indian hospitality “chiefly from observations of actual practice, but in many cases from formal precept.” They’re still largely apropo for modern hosts entertaining visiting guests in their “teepee” (though your mother-in-law may disagree).

Teepee Etiquette — The Unwritten Law of the Lodge

Be hospitable.

Always assume that your guest is tired, cold, and hungry.

Always give your guest the place of honor in the lodge, and at the feast, and serve him in reasonable ways.

Never sit while your guest stands.

Go hungry rather than stint your guest.

If your guest refuses certain food, say nothing; he may be under vow.

Protect your guest as one of the family; feed his horse.

Do not trouble your guest with many questions about himself; he will tell you what he wishes you to know.

In another man’s lodge follow his customs, not your own.

Never worry your host with your troubles.

Always repay calls of courtesy; do not delay.

Give your host a little present on leaving; little presents are little courtesies and never give offense.

Say “Thank you” for every gift, however small.

Compliment your host, even if you strain the facts to do so.

Never walk between persons talking.

Never interrupt persons talking.

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