find that there are some questions that are repeated over
and over at the Center, so we thought that we would publish
them on this medium for all to see and get the answers to.
We hope that your questions will be answered, and if not,
please email us, and we will do our best to help you.
What is Pipestone all about?
For hundreds of years Native Americans
came to the quarries, (George Catlin called the place the
'Red Pipe Stone Quarry') where the Pipestone National Monument
is today, to dig for the red rock (Catlinite) from which
the bowls of their Sacred Pipes are made. They would make
long journeys to get to the Sacred land from all over the
country, and would stop and pray to the Great Spirit four
times on the journey, the last time just outside of Pipestone.
They would pray that they would be successful in their quarrying.
All weapons would be buried before they reached the area,
because it was an unwritten law that no fighting should
go on in Pipestone, it was and still is a beautiful place
What significance does the Pipe have for
The power of the Pipe is derived
from the cultural teachings and respect of a Higher Power,
which Native Americans learn from a very early age. It is
smoked in all religious ceremonies and ritualistic occasions.
Treaties were signed over a Pipe, couples were and still
are married over one. Making vows or signing a name over
a Pipe ensures that the vows or agreement will never be
broken, because it has been sanctified by the Creator. The
bowl of a Pipe represents the female, the stem the male,
when the two are joined the makings of the universe are
held in the smoker's hand. Once a Pipe has been smoked it
is at that point consecrated or blessed and has to be stored
away with the bowl and stem separated. It will then never
be joined unless it is about to be prayed with. Usually
the Pipe is kept wrapped in a red cloth or a Pipe bag, which
is sometimes highly decorated. The Plains style pipe was
traditionally used by men. The elbow style was used by women.
is smoked in a Pipe?
Kinni-kinick, which is various
blends of tobacco, sumac leaves, red willow bark and bearberry,
etc. is one substance used. Often just tobacco alone is
smoked. No, there are no hallucinates used, a true spiritual
person does not need drugs to get them to a higher plane.
is Pipestone (Catlinite) quarried in Pipestone?
True Pipestone is quarried in
a sacred, traditional and respectful manner, using only
hand tools. Proper ceremony is done prior to, during and
after quarrying. Mother Earth is carefully moved to access
the quartzite rock. This extremely hard rock is painstakingly
removed layer by layer to expose the Pipestone deposit which
can be as far down as 12 feet. The ancient Pipestone is
then meticulously withdrawn layer by layer. The vein is
usually 14 to 16 inches in depth but only half of the stone
is usable. The center part is too fractured and often lacks
the red color. The top and bottom sections are also layered,
with the bottom layer being the prime source.
heard a different story about the way the stone is quarried,
how can that be?
There is another stone quarried
just outside of Pipestone, which is not removed in a sacred
manner and does not possess traditional or sacred reverence.
Mother Earth is ripped up with a backhoe and front-end loader.
The machinery rips up the quartzite and a stone that is
similar to Pipestone. That stone is not considered sacred,
so having ceremony with a Channupa (Pipe) made from such
stone, which has been traumatized while being removed and
so is not at peace, would be very wrong.
is the Pipestone so expensive to buy, shouldn't it be free?
The Pipestone itself, from the
'Red Stone Quarries' is free. The only cost is for the time
and labor of the Native American who sacrificed himself
and worked the quarry in a traditional manner, so that Pipestone
would be available for anyone who needs it, especially elders
and Medicine people. It can take weeks to get some out,
all that time the quarrier has
to live, we wouldn't expect any other trades-person
to work for free so why should the quarriers have to. If
a Native American wishes to quarry for the stone themselves
they can get a free permit at the National Monument in town,
as long as they have tribal identification. The permit will
give them access to the same quarry for a year. It is advisable
to have a minimum of 2 weeks available to enable them to
get to the vein. The correct hand tools are also needed.
are the Sioux?
The Nation that we know from John
Wayne movies who were called the Sioux prefer today to be
called Lakota, Nakota and Dakota. These are the 3 language
dialects used by these people. Nowdays we don't say Sioux
as the word is a derogatory statement meaning enemy, whereas
Dakota (etc.) means friend or ally. The Dakota are in the
eastern plains of South Dakota and North Dakota and Minnesota,
the Lakota are in the central and western plains, and the
Nakota are between the two.
heard some Native American people in Pipestone refer to
themselves as Sisseton/Wahpeton, what exactly does that
You may hear a Dakota person refer
to themselves as Dakota, (Nation. Which could be compared
with the U.S.) Santee, (Tribe within Nation, which could
be compared to a state within the U.S.) or one or more of
the following; Sisseton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, or Mdewakanton,
(the four bands within that Tribe, compares to a town within
the state.) So, for instance, a Sisseton person would be
a member of the Dakota Nation, (American) also a Santee
(Minnesotan, etc.) yet also a Sisseton, (Pipestonian, etc.).
heard that the turtle stands for fertility. is this true?
Yes, a Turtle does represent 'fertility'
but there is more to the story! When a Native American child
was born the Grandmother would make an amulet in the shape
of a turtle. She would form it with great care and bead
it ornately, inside this amulet would go the child's umbilical
cord, in fulfilling this ritual the child would be sure
of a long life. That's not all, it would also enable the
cord, which gave sustenance to the child from it's biological
mother to join the child with the new life giving force,
the Mother Earth, which to the Native American people is
known as Turtle Island. This amulet would be the start of
the child's Medicine bag and would stay with them for the
rest of their life. This could be the reason why the Native
American people were so close to the Earth and cared for
it so well. Turtle also stands for protection. She retreats
into her sturdy shell at any sign of danger, and only emerges
when it is safe. When we respect her power she will offer
us that same shelter.
seen colored cloths at Native American gatherings, do they
have a meaning?
Yes, the colors have meanings,
Native Peoples have different systems of what the colors
mean. We use the system known to many Lakota/Dakota people
which is as follows:
= NORTH. A resting point on the wheel of life. Winter. Under
the snow new life is forming, when the snow melts a new
= EAST. Childhood on the wheel. Spring. Education, enlightenment.
= SOUTH. Growth, nurturing the stage of life when you
care for your young or your crops. Summer, warmth.
= WEST. Night, elder stage of life. Power from the Thunder-beings
which bring the rain. Wisdom.
BLUE = SKY. All that is above
us in the Universe and beyond.
= EARTH. The Mother Earth, the planet which gives everything
a place to live and grow. This makes all of us on this planet
relations, no matter who or what we are. Native Americans
end their prayers with the words 'MITAKUYE OYASIN' which
means 'We are all related'. It is a very powerful thought.
WE ARE ALL RELATED.
are the tiny tied colored things that I have seen hanging
on trees, and in the rocks at the Monument?
You may see small colored pouches
hanging in various places when you are walking around the
Pipestone National Monument or at Native American ceremonials.
These are material filled with tobacco and are called either
tobacco or PRAYER TIES. Each pouch represents a prayer offered
by the maker of the ties. Please don't touch them or move
them from their resting place, they will have been put there
for a spiritual reason.
by: Chuck Derby & Gloria Hazell