The fjords of western Norway provide the perfect backdrop for a bit of clear thinking, and after a crazy summer building tipis this is exactly what I needed! The peaceful waters contrast starkly with the precipitous snowy mountains that rise from them, and on the western shores there is some incredible views to be had if you don’t mind a bit of hiking.
I flew into the beautiful harbour city of Bergen on Norway’s southwestern coast, which I’d read was founded more than 900 years ago, and famous for the seven mountains surrounding the city centre. After a bit of people watching in the city centre I could tell straight away that this city had roots in the Viking Age, and I find it fascinating that such a distinct look should prevail in the Scandinavian people after such a long period.
The forests and frozen lakes up in the surrounding mountains looked breathtaking under the autumnal glow of the low sun and it felt like I had the whole mountain to myself. As I am involved with a tipi company I knew that our main poles were sourced from North Scandinavian forests, which was part of the reason why I wanted to visit Norway. I knew I probably wasn’t far north enough, but I instantly felt envious of the slow grown spruce trees that sat in forests like this for over 80 years, what a place to grow old! The cold temperatures cause the trees to go slowly, which means the rings are tighter, ultimately creating an incredibly strong and straight pole.
In these mountains I found my mind wandering into the life of a nomadic Plains Indian: walking through a forest and surveying the trees for strength and shape, then de-barking them by hand before assembling the structure and covering it with an animal skin.
Tipis have come a long way since the times of the Indigenous Plains Indians, though our modern take on them still stays true to much of the original design; a real testament to these creative and resilient tribesmen.