soft red stone which comes from the sacred quarries in Pipestone,
is scientifically known as Catlinite. It feels smooth to
the touch, and is easily carved with a regular pen-knife.
Most Catlinite is not pure red all the way through, it normally
has small lighter pigments scattered in the dark red, these
are known as stars, and the markings can often look like
a universe in the making.
picture above is of raw pipestone as it comes out
of the earth. As you can see it looks nothing like
the finished stone.
the stone is cut it looks like the above picture,
you can see the lighter specks in the stone.
is what the polished stone looks like, this has beeswax
on it to give it a shine.
a look at picture 2 above, this is how the stone can look
with the lighter spots in it. These markings come from the
bleaching of the hematite in the metamorphic clay over the
centuries. It is nature at it's finest, the lighter areas
can often look like an animal, a bird, or an insect. Sometimes
a different type of picture can show such as a shell, a
human, a tree. You just need to look into the color to see
in the Stone
2001, Chuck carved a Pipe for a Canadian Native American.
As he chose the stone this piece insisted that it
be used. As he carved the Pipe the following image
came through: Is this a Canada Goose? We thought so.
shows that the pictures are there for a reason, and
they want to come out in the Pipe. Spirit IS in the
genuine Catlinite stone. This is shown in the early
stage of carving. We took the photo early on in the
process because we thought the picture would be carved
out. However it wasn't the goose stayed and is happily
with it's new owner in Canada.
2003 a pipe was crafted for a Native American woman's
group, who are commemorating their ancestors of 1862.
When the markings in this pipe was shown to me I recognised
the shape as one of the photos I had seen from 1862.
The Pipe was presented to the group with the original
photo (picture is on the left) showing the young pregnant
woman who appeared in the Pipe.
courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
can see by the pictures above the various colors in the
stone. The finished color looks completely different to
the raw stone shown in pictures 1 and 2. Many people think
that the stone comes out red like this. In the old days
the polish used was buffalo tallow, today beeswax is used.
phenomena that shows itself is what the crafts-people call
a heart-line. It is a hair-thick line that is straight and
a different color, (usually black,) to the stone. It looks
like a crack but it isn't. If one of these is found in the
stone, it is thought to be highly lucky for both the crafts-person
and the person who ends up with the item it is in.
scientific breakdown of Catlinite
48.20 Mangananous Oxide------------ 0.60
Ferric Oxide----------- 5.00 Magnesia----------------
Alumina------------ 28.20 Water-----------------
Carbonate of Lime ---------------- 2.60 Loss-----------------------
by Dr. Charles F. Jackson, Boston chemist.
is chemically a clay (silicate of alumina) colored
brick red with peroxide of iron.
a museum article it was said that Indians preferred
this more pure clay over other red stone found else
where, and that the jasper stone had more quartz in
non-native quarries are near the tiny town of Jasper, these
are privately owned quarries, where stone that looks like
Catlinite is obtained. The man who owned one of the quarries
proudly stated a few years ago that he supplied 95% of all
pipestone sold. The reason that he could do this is because
he got to the stone by using machinery and so could get
out hundreds of pounds at a time. The problem is that this
stone is not pipestone even though it was advertised as
being from the quarries in SW Minnesota. Of course that
quarry is in SW Minnesota as well as the sacred quarries,
so it made it look like the stone comes from the Native
American quarries. Now think about this for a minute, if
he was selling 95% of all stone sold back then and we didn't
know about it how many people obtained stone that they thought
was the sacred stone, only to find out that is wasn't. How
many people bought that stone to keep as an heirloom or
to keep on an alter? That stone is probably still there
now, and the poor person doesn't realize it is not genuine
stone from the sacred quarries...... That is fine in a way,
but in another way it isn't because it was sold under false
pretences as something sacred..... It may interest you to
know that the man who was selling all of this stone eventually
lost a couple of fingers, so Creator did do something about
it. He has since sold his business and the stone is still
being sold, mostly on Ebay, so please be careful where you
get yours from......
Jasper stone as it is called (please note that this is
not the gemstone called Jasper) feels grittier, it doesn't
have that smooth buttery feel that the Catlinite does. If
you try to cut it with a knife it cracks away, often it
breaks as it is being crafted, or it breaks the craftspersons
tools. The color is different too, it has a more purple
look to it. The chemical make up of the stone has more quartz
in it. This is the reason that it doesn't cut as well as
Pipestone. It aslo has a more metalic taste to it.
biggest difference is the dust, Catlinite dust has healing
qualities, the other stone does not. Pipestone craftspeople
have for many years been working with the dust all around
them. Never do they use a face mask, and never have they
had any lung problems. A couple of women have asthma, but
they still make craft items and it doesn't cause them to
have an attack. When you go to a craftspersons home there
is always pink dust around from their work over the years.
It does no harm. However, we have seen people using the
other stone and they use a mask, because the dust is sharper
and can cause lung problems. We
have also heard that the dust causes the skin to burn in
the sun, but the true stone dust is used by sundancers to
protect their skin, a big difference wouldn't you think?
we have been calling the false stone 'Fool's Stone' which
is in the same concept of 'Fool's Gold', so much of the
gold mined in the late 1800's was Fool's Gold, but the miners
thought it was real gold. This stone is the same, many people
think it is the real Catlinite, and they try to make Ceremonial
items from it. Sometimes if they are lucky the stone can
be formed into a Pipe, but we have heard more than once
that the ceremonies have gone wrong. I would personally
say that is because Spirit is not in the Fool's Stone. It
is like a Heyoka stone, causing things to go contrary to
how they should.
and more Natives are coming to us and telling us about the
stone they were gifted or got from a store to make a channupa
from only to find it cracked and they couldn't do it. There
are many angry people out there right now who want something
done about the people selling this stone as Pipestone stone.
Native Americans have had enough of this issue.
rumors that we have been hearing about Chuck being sued
and taken to Court by these two quarry owners is completely
untrue, in fact it is again slandering Chuck's well known,
good name. These are downright lies spread around to harm
Chuck as he is exposing this issue. If it did go to court
it would be exposing the issue more and then everyone would
know about it in Indian Country.
To end this page we wish to reiterate that no-one from the
Original Pipestone Dakota Tiospaye is making a lot of money
through the stone. What is sold is recompense for their
time in quarrying and making the item.
The Pipestone quarries are not being desecrated by the quarriers
or anyone else.
There are no tourists running around tearing down trees
or plants or acting disrespectful in the Pipestone Monument
area. When people walk into the Sacred area it is as if
a peacefulness overcomes them and they walk quietly, with
respect. They ask questions when they see a Native American
in very quiet tones, and seem to understand that the whole
place has a magical (Wakan) quality to it which they cannot
explain but know it's there. Recently an email came in to
us from a visitor to Pipestone and I am quoting it here
because it says it all.....
first impressions was that it (The National Monument) was
a very low key place, quiet, warm in the late summer breezes
and, as I think about it now it had an ethereal presence.
Kind of like walking into a church sanctuary on a Saturday
afternoon when no one is there. ' R W-W.
4. Energies do not subside over the years, the power that
the ancients felt here is still present, and it always will
be here. Primitive energies that make things happen.
see photos of the actual false quarries and the ancient
quarry please go HERE. and HERE.
you have obtained some red stone from a rock shop please
be aware that it is almost certainly NOT
from the ancient Pipestone Quarries.
If you paid less than $10 a pound for it then again it has
most likely not been hand quarries by a Native American.
false stone has a purply tinge, often has big white spots
in it, tastes of metal, and the dust is gritty unlike Catlinite
that is like talc. Below is a photo of a typical piece of
the false stone.
2005: I was just given a statistic by Chuck I thought it
was interesting and thought you might as well. I had said
about the stone prices over the past 10 years, and I said
inflation hits everything and his response was "when
we used to pay $2.00 for a sledgehammer handle...it was
lower, but nowdays that same handle will cost a lot more.
We pay about twice as much or more now for our tools than
a while back, and so those prices have to be passed on to
the person wanting the stone"
if you bought it from a Native American that is not a valid
reason to say that it is genuine Catlinite. We know of one
man who got his permit then stocked up with the false stone
and went back to his home state to sell the stone. He had
a permit, he had red stone, but that stone was not true
latest gem we have heard is that when you get the Catlinite
(or red stone) you should bury it for a while so that it
can become soft again. It took millions of years to make
this stone, when it comes out of the quarry it is wet because
of all of the underground water, as I always say it is like
a baby being birthed, but it is already perfectly formed
and as soft as it is ever going to be, another few weeks,
months, years, really won't do a thing. If your stone is
hard it probably isn't Catlinite, but the false stone. Like
I said recently to a friend, you can't blame the stone,
it is how the Creator wanted it to be. It wasn't meant to
be used for carving pipes. Catlinite was given to the people
for that reason. Catlinite is one of a kind there is no
generic stone when it comes to making a Chanunpa.
with respect by Gloria Hazell for the Little Feather Center,
quarrying Fall 2006