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 of peace.
What significance does the Pipe have for Native Americans?
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 (that which is mixed),
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. Tobacco was often
hard to obtain, the People would get it from Traders who would probably
visit once a year and so they had to make it last until the next visit,
so they used their local fauna that they knew they could get hold
of easier and mix those with the tobacco leaves. Each area had their
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
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 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 him/herself 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, (nadewasioux = snake like enemy) whereas Dakota
(etc.) means friend or ally. The Dakota are in the eastern plains
(SD & ND) 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 mean?
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.). (Lakota, Teton,
Oglala or whichever band they are from)
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
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 life begins.
= 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