An adventure next door in Minnesota

Dave took me on a surprise trip to Pipestone MN., about 40 miles from here, And I’m glad he did! It was an enjoyable visit for sure!

Dave didn’t know much about Pipestone only that it was a National Monument. He knew it had something to do with Indians, because it was on sacred ground, he thought it was going to be some kind of mound.

As it turned out . . . . For countless generations, American Indians at this site have dug out the red stone used for the carving of their ritual pipes used in prayer, Peace Pipes As noted in the seminal text of Native American religious beliefs and practices, Black Elk Speaks, “When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.” The American Indians believed that the smoke from a pipe made a connection to the Great Spirit by carrying prayers aloft. These grounds are sacred to many people. The traditions of quarrying and pipe making continue here today.

Pipestone National Monument — home of the historic Pipestone quarries, beautiful tallgrass prairie, and the majestic Winnewissa waterfall.

Pipestone National Monument visitor center has a museum, orientation film, exhibits and a gift shop. 

The best part is that they also have pipestone carving demonstrations by American Indians.  We talked to three of the demonstrators who had their talent passed down to them by many generations.  And we got to see them use the primitive tools that were used long ago.

Cindy Lou made turtles and Jewelry with the pipestone

Cindy showing us what they used to make the hole in the pipe. Dave is sanding down, rounding off a piece of pipestone.

Travis Erickson is a Fourth Generation pipestone artist. He work is exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute. He said all the Indian tribes from the West came here to get their pipes. And that old paintings of Indians holding their pipes, their pipes came from Pipestone.

An old pipe in the visitor center. This is where you would connect the pieces together.

A tulip magnetic I purchased from Travis

Another great part about the park is the ¾ mile walking trail along Pipestone Creek, Winnewissa Falls, and the tall grass prairie where digging for pipestone was and is being done.

They definitely had to dig down deep to get to the pipestone layer.

When you look thru the oracle you see the outline of this face.

Minnesota pipestone is said to be the preferred source among Plains tribes due to the quality of the stone. According to oral tradition the site was used by people of all tribes, and that all tribes – even enemies – laid down their arms before quarrying side by side.

As always the white man started to take away their land so this National Monument was established by an act of Congress on August 25, 1937, with the establishing legislation reaffirming the quarrying rights of only Native Americans. Any enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe may apply for a free quarry permit to dig for the pipestone. Only members of registered Indian tribes are allowed to quarry at the site now.

Examples of pipestone that were made here at the park.

Another great day out west.

2 thoughts on “An adventure next door in Minnesota

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