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‘Teepee’ app puts tribes at your fingertips

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Puyallup tribal member Miguel Douglas has developed a one-of-a-kind app for use with iPhones and iPads, available now from the Apple Store. Called “Teepee,” the app provides a wealth of information for all 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States. With this information at their fingertips, Teepee users can easily access information on the various tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, and Native villages across the country.

For just the $1.99 cost to download the app, the app provides a directory that includes the name, leader, address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, website, delivery location, and servicing offices for each of the 566 tribal communities. You can also easily call, e-mail or locate tribes using map-route capabilities to contact each of them. The way that Douglas designed the app makes the process of finding the necessary information extremely easy, allowing users to effortlessly locate tribal communities locally and afar.

“I chose the name ‘Teepee’ because in our area, our ancestors lived in longhouses, and I felt that for people who weren’t familiar with this area, they wouldn’t necessarily look for that search term when they’re looking for apps,” Douglas explained. “So I chose Teepee because there’s a broad understanding of what a teepee is throughout the whole United States.”

You can also search “Native American Tribal Directory,” which will bring up the Teepee app upon the search.

Douglas said he spent about six months researching every tribe included in the app, and he will update the information every year and include new tribes that come to be federally recognized.

“I’ll go through all the tribal listings I have documented and see if there are any changes in each one. For people who have the app already, it will automatically download and update for them,” he said.

To organize the tribes, Douglas grouped them by area of country for a total of 12 tribal regions, and gave each region its own color to make it easy to navigate. For example, the Northwest is in green. “I tried to make this as general as possible so people can go through (the list of regions) quickly,” he said. Just a click on “Northwest” gives the list of tribes in the Northwest region of the United States, then clicking on each tribe brings up the pertinent contact information on that tribe.

“If you think about people who deal with tribes on a daily basis, they’re constantly looking up information on the Internet or looking in books, and that information could be old too,” Douglas said. “This app provides the opportunity to have the most current and updated information,” perfect for business-related inquiries and students doing research.

“I was trying to go more toward people who interact with tribes and tribes that want to interact with each other. But if business people want to use it, students doing research, this is something they could use,” Douglas said. “If you think about it, tribal communities are interconnected, and I think that by having something like this, it’s at your fingertips. Any federally recognized tribal community in the United States is here, and pretty much everyone has a cell phone, so this is something people can use rather than trying to search for it themselves.”

Douglas said he plans on making an Android version of Teepee too for people who don’t have an Apple phone, and he’s also going to be developing a version for iPads and tablets. “I had to build the whole infrastructure for this one, which is why it took six months to do. Now I have all the information and a look for the app, so it will be easily adaptable to the Android version.”

As the Puyallup Tribe continues to grow, Douglas said he plans to continue encouraging the Tribe to stay current with all the possibilities offered in the digital world.

“Because the Tribe is always transitioning and becoming bigger every year, having a digital online presence is something I think we should consider in the near future,” he said. He said that anyone in the community who may be interested in having an app made can contact him through his website at