This page is coming to you from Pipestone,
the home of the Red Stone quarries which were known as a Wakan
(sacred and mystical) area by the Native Americans who visited
them from all over the country.
Pipestone was traditionally thought of as a place of peace,
and it was an unwritten law that everyone lay down their weapons
when nearing the Sacred quarries. On the journey to the quarries
the visitors would stop and pray four times, the last probably
being near the Three Maidens; boulders left by the melting
glaciers, which sit southeast of the quarry line. Only a few
people from the group would actually go to the quarry for
the stone, the rest would wait in the camp area. There was
a respectful fear where Pipestone was concerned, the people
realized that it was a special place, and they behaved in
a very reverent way when near to it. Today the quarries are
still special, and Native Americans continue to visit the
area to dig for the soft red stone.
Pipestone Quarries have ALWAYS been looked at by the People
as being a tremendously powerful and Wakan area. They walked
gently while on the Land there, in case they upset the Thunderbird's
eggs, which are believed to be there. All hell would break
out if they disturbed those eggs, so no-one did.
centuries ago the Creator went into the hearts and souls of
the children of this mighty country, and he gave them an instinct.
He told them that this place was very special, He placed the
knowledge that he had consecrated this site in the People's
hearts and souls.
however there has been a growing controversy where the quarries
are concerned. The peacefulness of the area has denigrated
into a seething mass of untruths and conflicts, due to misrepresentations
by Gloria Hazell
fictitious allegations have been implied, and directed towards
the local Native American community who have lived and quarried
the stone for at least four generations here.
One of the innuendoes is that the Native people in Pipestone
are making a great amount of money for the stone, which is
ludicrous. These people get little money for their hard work.
If Pipes are expensive elsewhere in the country then that
is the fault of the person doing the selling and the Creator
will take care of that problem.
where the stone lays under our feet and we can feel the energy
waves coming from it, none of the Original Dakota Tiospaye
is making money. They respect the stone too much for that.
would dearly love to see the people who are the accusers go
down to the quarries to dig for stone themselves. I really
don't think they would be able to manage it, because it takes
many hours of tedious labor to reach the stone, which lays
under an average of 8 foot of quartzite; the second hardest
rock in the world. Only hand tools such as sledge-hammers,
crowbars, and chisels are allowed to be used by the quarriers.
handed down traditions are applied and the stone is taken
out in layers. These layers are then cut up into smaller sections
and the pipe-making process begins; again with hand tools.
It can take many weeks for the stone to be reached implementing
these slow, back-breaking methods.
Older people, such as Medicine Men, could not possibly reach
the stone. Those without the knowledge knock themselves out
for nothing more than a few pieces of cracked Pipestone, which
cannot be used for pipemaking, and often physically injure
themselves in the process.
There is a certain way to get to the stone, just hitting the
quartzite isn't the way. The expert quarriers; the masters
of the trade, have been at the ancient quarries for many,
many years. At the start, as a youngster, just watching their
own father, or grandfather working the stone. Then as a teenager
progressing to throwing rock, or clearing the space made by
the quarrier, which could be ten foot or more below ground
level. Those rocks have to be removed before the soft stone
can be dislodged and bought out of the pit. During all of
this time the boy will only have been watching, he will not
have done any quarrying himself. It is a long apprenticeship,
and many do not stick it out.
is the way the Pipestone traditionals reach the point of getting
the stone, by long, hard, tedious labor, not frivolously,
or without thought. It has been said by some so-called traditionals,
who in some instances should know better, that these people
are not spiritual, that they are selling the blood of their
ancestors, and that they do not care. I will use an English
colloquialism to that statement, 'Codswallop'.
men who go down to those pits do so with respect, love, and
a spiritual understanding. They are the ones who have kept
the Pipe tradition and spirituality alive, had it not been
for them and their forefathers the Pipe would have died out
long ago. They fulfilled the part of caretaker and steward
to these quarries and to the Pipe.
of the quarriers who have grown up with it, yearn for the
quarries. If they can't get down there they become ill. (Chuck
hurt his back in January 2001 while we were in England and
he couldn't walk for many weeks. He thought he wouldn't walk
again, which meant he wouldn't be able to quarry again. He
prayed with his Pipe many times asking that if he was supposed
to quarry again he would be made well. During the summer he
helped some new quarriers in their quarry, not swinging the
hammers but advising and showing where they should hit the
quartzite, he was there when they got their stone out because
he couldn't stay away from the quarry. It is his life, it
is in his blood, it is in his genes, it is in his spirituality.
Right now, October 2001, just 10 months after he was struck
down with a serious back injury, he is once more in the quarry
that he has used for over 40 years, and he is getting stone
out with help from his son. The Creator listened to his prayers
and has answered them, he is once more quarrying.)
If blood has been sold it is their own, and their sweat, pain
and tears too. They surely have a right to dispose of the
stone in the way they feel is fitting as long as it is respectful.
They earned that right. While others were sitting back and
turning to the white mans' ways and religions; while they
were forgetting their traditions and their ceremonies, these
people were here, ensuring that when the time was right, when
they were once again allowed to perform their ceremonies,
the art of quarrying would be able to be continued without
a break. They handed that knowledge down to their sons and
so it was perpetuated for all time. Sundancers kept the Sundance
alive underground, deep in the Reservations for the People,
the Original Dakota People here did the same for the Pipe,
but above ground for all to see. If it wasn't for these people
the Pipe religion would have died.
Quarrier is the most integral part of Pipestone, and the Pipe.
Anyone can make a Pipe, I know because I (Gloria) have done
so. However not everyone can Quarry. That has been proved
time after time. Please remember that without the quarrier
there would be no Pipe.