Spirit of Peace Crafts

Pipestone Dakota Community

Our Pipestone crafts are made by tribally enrolled Dakota people, most live in Pipestone, and have been making the Pipes and crafts for many years.

The ancestors of the Pipestone Dakota Community have been coming to the quarries for generations. Below is a photograph of some of them. The lady who is sitting down came with her family as a child to quarry in 1862. The taller girl at the back is their grandmother as a young woman with her sisters, her mother (standing) and grandmother (seated). The family history is very interesting, and some of it will be told here.

The Summer of 1862

It was the summer of 1862 when the weather was hot and steamy. August was a sweltering month, not really the time to go to Pipestone to quarry for stone, but go they did, every year, almost as a pilgrimage. The men quarried for the stone while the women made the food and kept the fires burning. On the top of the quarry were small fires lit with a plant that looked something like sage, but which when burned would keep the flies away from the sweating men who were working so hard to reach the stone which they revered above all else. The children ran around looking for this plant and joyfully put it on the pile when they managed to find one. It kept them busy and allowed them some freedom to roam the prairie at this special place.

Every year a group of them would travail the worn path towards Pipestone from their homeland of southern Minnesota. This had all been their land before most of it was ceded to the government a few years earlier, it may now belong to the great grandfather in Washington but they still felt that it was theirs. They hunted and gathered in the roots and berries from the areas close to their homes, but this year they had been told to move on, to stay away and to go to the warehouses to get their food. This year there was no food.

Even though their stomachs were aching with hunger this small group still insisted on travelling to the ancient quarries to get the stone which meant so much to their people. After all it was their responsibility to get the beautiful red stone for all those who needed it. Usually the quarrying process took a few weeks, this time however they knew it would go well into September when the air changed and the sun wasn't quite so furious. This year there were fewer of the men and those who did travel were not as strong as they usually were. They hoped though that they would find food on the way, which would allow them sustinance and would give them enough strength to do their work.

They arrived when the mosquitos were angry, and so they rubbed wet dirt on themselves to stop the bites, they camped where they usually did on the east side of the quarries near a small stream, but before setting up the camp they went to the big boulders to give offerings and pray for good stone. They always prayed along the way as well as they believed that the more they prayed the better the stone would be, and the easier it would be to reach it.

While the women set up their small lodges the men and boys walked around looking for signs of food, rabbits were the easiest to find, and their coats would be useful in the cold winter. The boys could often catch a small creature on their own and would bring it back to camp with a shout. They were always praised for their hunting skills and would be honored around the campfire by their elders. The children especially always enjoyed this time away from their home with their parents and grandparents because they heard many fine stories around the fire that they never heard back home. They felt especially lucky to be able to go on such a trip to a wonderfully special place such as Pipestone where the Spirits looked after the land and the Dakota people.



Our story goes on.............. as do we!

This story has been written by Gloria Hazell from material provided by the Derby family that had been written by their great-grandfather Wambdi Ska from verbal stories from their ancestors. The full story will be available as a book once it is written.


Respectfully written by Gloria Hazell-Derby from reports written by Wambdi Ska in the early 1900's. Copyright belongs to both of them.


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