This page is coming to you from Pipestone,
the home of the Red Stone quarries which were known
as a Wakan (sacred and mystical) area by the Native
Americans who visited them from all over the country.
Pipestone was traditionally thought of as a place of
peace, and it was an unwritten law that everyone lay
down their weapons when nearing the Sacred quarries.
(2009: Please see the latest about carrying weapons
onto the Monument Grounds where the Sacred Quarries
A new page will open)
On the journey to the quarries the visitors would stop
and pray four times, the last probably being near the
Three Maidens; boulders left by the melting glaciers,
which sit southeast of the quarry line. Only a few people
from the group would actually go to the quarry for the
stone, the rest would wait in the camp area. There was
a respectful fear where Pipestone was concerned, the
people realized that it was a special place, and they
behaved in a very reverent way when near to it. Today
the quarries are still special, and Native Americans
continue to visit the area to dig for the soft red stone.
the 80's however there has been a growing controversy
where the quarries are concerned. The peacefulness of
the area has denigrated into a seething mass of untruths
and conflicts, due to misrepresentations and misconceptions.
story will be on two pages as it is quite long.
by Chuck Derby & Gloria Hazell
1 of the Pipestone Story.
fictitious allegations have been implied, and directed
towards the local Native American community who have
lived and quarried the stone for at least four generations
One of the innuendoes is that the Native people in Pipestone
are making a great amount of money for the stone, which
is ludicrous. These people get little money for their
hard work. If Pipes are expensive elsewhere in the country
then that is the fault of the person doing the selling
and the Creator will take care of that problem.
where the stone lays under our feet and we can feel
the energy waves coming from it, none of the Original
Dakota Tiospaye is making money. They respect the stone
too much for that.
would dearly love to see the people who are the accusers
go down to the quarries to dig for stone themselves.
I really don't think they would be able to manage it,
because it takes many hours of tedious labor to reach
the stone, which lays under an average of 8 foot of
Sioux Quartzite; the second hardest rock in the world.
Only hand tools such as sledge-hammers, crowbars, and
chisels are allowed to be used by the quarriers.
handed down traditions are applied and the stone is
taken out in layers. These layers are then cut up into
smaller sections and the pipe-making process begins;
again with hand tools. It can take many weeks for the
stone to be reached implementing these slow, back-breaking
Older people, such as Medicine Men, could not possibly
reach the stone. Those without the knowledge knock themselves
out for nothing more than a few pieces of cracked Pipestone,
which cannot be used for pipemaking, and often physically
injure themselves in the process.
There is a certain way to get to the stone, just hitting
the quartzite isn't the way. The expert quarriers; the
masters of the trade, have been at the ancient quarries
for many, many years. At the start, as a youngster,
just watching their own father, or grandfather working
the stone. Then as a teenager progressing to throwing
rock, or clearing the space made by the quarrier, which
could be ten foot or more below ground level. Those
rocks have to be removed before the soft stone can be
dislodged and bought out of the pit. During all of this
time the boy will only have been watching, he will not
have done any quarrying himself. It is a long apprenticeship,
and many do not stick it out.
is the way the Pipestone traditionals reach the point
of getting the stone, by long, hard, tedious labor,
not frivolously, or without thought. It has been said
by some so-called traditionals, who in some instances
should know better, that these people are not spiritual,
that they are selling the blood of their ancestors,
and that they do not care. I will use an English colloquialism
to that statement, 'Codswallop'.
men who go down to those pits do so with respect, love,
and a spiritual understanding, they are the ones who
have kept the Pipe tradition and spirituality alive,
had it not been for them and their forefathers the Pipe
would have died out long ago. When others were demonstrating
against one thing or another in the 60's and 70's, such
as at Wounded Knee, Washington DC or Alcatraz, the people
here were working to allow the demonstrators to continue
to obtain their Catlinite or their Pipes in days when
it was illegal to perform their ceremonies. They always
had Pipes because these quarriers were here in Pipestone
demonstrating their love for the People by keeping the
traditions of the Pipe alive. They also fulfilled the
part of caretaker and steward to these quarries and
to the Pipe.
of the quarriers who have grown up with it, yearn for
the quarries. If they can't get down there they become
ill. Chuck hurt his back in January 2001 while we were
in England and he couldn't walk for many weeks. He thought
he wouldn't walk again, which meant he wouldn't be able
to quarry again. He prayed with his Pipe many times
asking that if he was supposed to quarry again he would
be made well. During the summer he helped some new quarriers
in their quarry, not swinging the hammers but advising
and showing where they should hit the quartzite, he
was there when they got their stone out because he couldn't
stay away from the quarry. It is his life, it is in
his blood, it is in his genes, it is in his spirituality.
Right now, October 2001, just 10 months after he was
struck down with a serious back injury, he is once more
in the quarry that he has used for over 40 years, and
he is getting stone out with help from his son. The
Creator listened to his prayers and has answered them,
he is once more quarrying.
If blood has been sold it is their own, and their sweat,
pain and tears too. They surely have a right to use
the stone in the way they feel is fitting as long as
it is respectful. They earned that right. While others
were sitting back and turning to the white mans' ways
and religions; while they were forgetting their traditions
and their ceremonies, these people were here, ensuring
that when the time was right, when they were once again
allowed to perform their ceremonies, the art of quarrying
would be able to be continued without a break. They
handed that knowledge down to their sons and so it was
perpetuated for all time. Sundancers kept the Sundance
alive underground, deep in the Reservations for the
People, the Original Dakota People here did the same
for the Pipe, but above ground for all to see. If it
wasn't for these people the Pipe religion would have
Quarrier is the most integral part of Pipestone, and
the Pipe. Anyone can make a Pipe, I know because I (Gloria)
have done so. However not everyone can Quarry. That
has been proved time after time. Please remember that
without the quarrier there would be no Pipe.
PAGE OF THE STORY: 'Misrepresentation'