Lubbock man celebrates Native American heritage by building tepee in front yard

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 9:12 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 10:25 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock man is celebrating Native American Heritage month and his own heritage by building a tepee right in his front yard. Billy Ray Davis, 75, is building the tepee on his own, hoping to use it to share stories about his ancestors with his descendants. The large display is outside his home on the corner of 30th St. and Ave. P.

“My grandkids, my great grandkids, they can come out here and see what my great grandfathers used to live in, used to do, how they used to live, how they used to move around,” Davis said.

Davis started the journey as a way to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. His mom has passed, but he says he used to love listening to her stories about being a Jicarilla Apache. The tribe stayed in tepees as they roamed the areas of northern New Mexico and Colorado following the buffalo.

“They would take it apart and the poles that were tied to the horses on the side, drag them and put all their luggage or whatever they got, all this stuff to move to the next location,” Davis said.

While Davis especially wants to share those stories with his family, his project is getting even more attention.

“People have stopped to take pictures of it ‘cause they haven’t seen one and the kids from school they will also stop and take pictures of it, talk about it and all that stuff. Do you need help and stuff like that, you know? But my neighbors have been pretty good, they haven’t said anything about it. They’re kind of just like, OK. I got good neighbors, thanks to God,” Davis said.

He hopes to finish the tepee in the next week, adding a tarp over the top and a firepit inside where he can do smoke signals.

“And of course, we don’t have no buffalo skins to put on the ground, but maybe I’ll put an army cot or something in there and sleep all night. See what it’s like,” Davis said.

Davis says one of his friends who lives on the Jicarilla Apache reservation says it’s a dying culture, with people moving out of the tribe. He hopes displays like this can help bring that culture back to life.

“People out there, you know Apache, Cherokee, whatever you know, put something like this in your yard. Show the people where you’re coming from,” Davis said.