Summer of 1862
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.
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.
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.
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
ARE STILL HERE! ....... WE ARE DAKOTA!
story goes on.............. as do we!
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.
written by Gloria Hazell-Derby from reports written by
Wambdi Ska in the early 1900's. Copyright belongs to both