Issue - 2007
As we said on the home page the Pipestone issue has resurfaced again. The following was sent out by the Yankton people who are again showing disrespect to those who have cared for the quarries for many generations:
Spiritual Run For The Sacred Pipe 2007
For generations, the Ihanktowan people, through oral history of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes, have been the Caretakers and Protectors of the Sacred Red Pipestone Quarries located near the present-day town of Pipestone, Minnesota. Throughout the years, the Ihanktowan people witnessed the exploitation and desecration of our sacred red stone by the National Park Service and Pipestone Indian Shrine Association through the selling of sacred pipes and trinkets made from the stone.
The Ihanktowan people sent runners out for eight years to bring about awareness to all Native and non-Native people of this desecration in hope that the National Park Service and the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association would realize that the red stone is sacred to the Native people and that the exploitation must stop. The selling and commercialization of our sacred stone continues today, and so the Ihanktowan people have scheduled another "Spiritual Run for the Sacred Pipe" to take place on June 2 - 21, 2007.
Along with the privilege and honor that goes with the designation as Caretakers of the Sacred Red Stone come certain responsibilities. When we look around and see the way things are in our communities and we look ahead to the generations that will come long after we are gone, we realize we need to pray for things to be better for them.
In addition to prayers for respect and protection of the sacred stone, this year's prayers will focus on issues that plague our communities and hurt our children. One is directly connected to the other.
It is signed by the following people,
John Rouse 487-7816
Wes Hare III 384-3605
Mike Rouse 491-2430
Once again they are saying that the quarries are being desecrated, and that pipes should not be sold, They are again going to do a run to the quarries to protest and are trying to get the Pipestone Indian Shrine Assn to be taken out of the monument and the monument to get rid of the visitors center there. The next step as Chuck found out last night is that they take over control of the quarries and then they will stop quarrying by people such as yourself and Chuck. This is not good. It is very worrying. These people have no idea what it is like to quarry as they have never quarried, they have no idea what they are talking about either.
The following is what Chuck read out at the meeting with the Park service and the shrine/ craftworkers/quarriers last night. He was going to opt out of doing anything but after we talked and he slept on it he has decided that he could not live with himself if he did nothing, so today we are back working on the issue after thinking it was closed many years ago.
Spiritual Run 2007
First of all I want to make a comment, I thought that after all the protesting that was done from 1988 - 1994 and when the Yankton's came down here in the fall 1994 and planted the staff that led the runs at the sweatlodge area, that it meant that all the protests were over. I realize now that this issue will never be over, I figure it is back again now and it will probably come again. I spoke to another Indian person this week about this issue, and he said that it will never end, which I readily agree with.
From the information that I have, the Yanktons have directed this spiritual run at the National Park Service and Pipestone Indian Shrine Association. I feel it is the Park Service staff and Shrine board of directors who should be the ones to answer this. This issue is once again being put on the backs of our local Indian community. However, there is another local organization that was formed in 1996 who say that they protect the quarries and pipe sales. They should be the ones to address this issue. We the Pipestone Dakota Community worked for years dealing with this same issue in the 80's and 90's and won, but now the same issue has raised it's head again by the next generation of Yankton who did not learn from their father's experiences 20 years ago.
I also think that, why should a small group of people dictate the spiritual needs of so many thousands of people, because this is what is happening. Enuendos and falsehoods will be spread throughout the country and it will again look bad for our Indian community, even though we are doing nothing wrong. We put the truth out there in the 80's and have continued to do so since then, but a handful of bad publicity is worth more than years of positive publicity and it will again hit us.
I also think, that this protest will eventually lead to the Yankton's wanting to get ownership of the quarries, just as it did in the first series of protests. The land issue is something we have no control over, the park Service does, but I feel this is the opening of that land issue.
The Yankton's need to look back in their own history of the use of the pipestone quarries and pipe selling. They will find that what is going on now is no different than what their elders and spiritual people were doing back then. That was back prior to 1910.
They also need to look at the quarry permits that are issued and how many Yanktons are on that list. None.....maybe back in 1968 there was a few. Yes, maybe oral tradition of the seven council fires said that they were the caretakers of the quarries because back then they were located slightly closer than the other tribes. Where have they been since 1910. They have always wanted the Park Service to fund positions to hire Yankton people to be here, but if they want their people to be here to be the "caretakers", then its up to them to provide that funding. We have been doing it for generations by living here and giving our lives to the quarries and the Park service.
This business about selling pipes is no different than what they were doing prior to 1910. Look at the Pipestone County Star articles about the Yanktons coming to town and taking out wagon loads of stone to take back with them to make trinkets and pipes from. There is a well known photograph of these Yankton people at the quarry in 1893, many of them quarrying to get out as much stone as they could to make items from. Why then is it that all of a sudden these same Yankton people believe it is sacriligious to sell pipes. In the book 'Pipestone a History' (1965) Robert A Murray says, "The Yanktons had come a long way doen the 'White Man's Road' since the day on which the infant Strike-the-Ree, wrapped in the United States flag, is supposed to have been held in the arms of Meriweather Lewis." and "These men (the Yankton) were almost uniformly Christian, educated in white schools, and in many cases competitive and successful in the non-reservation world. They were the ones the tribe (Yankton) was consulting in the pipestone quarry case. (1890's)" and "The Yanktons who negotiated the 1858 treaty viewed the quarries as both a place sacred beyond price and with a great source of commercial wealth" Yet these are the people who are telling us that Pipes and 'trinkets' should not be sold.
This issue didn't come up until about 1979 when the park service had hired some Yankton people for the cultural demonstration program. Not as keepers or caretakers but to show how pipes were made to tourists.
They say that we are exploiting the area, we all know that this is not true. We get out a small amount of stone every year, it is not exploited. They I believe are confused because of all the stone that is sold on Ebay in in rock shops, this we know does not come from our quarries, it would be impossible to get such great amounts out in the way we quarry. Again what they call trinkets I call a way to use up all of the stone that it takes such hard work to reach. Like the old ones used up all of the buffalo and didn't waste so we use up all of the stone, including the dust.
In history, Native American people called 'Hang around the fort Indians' signed treaties for the People. They made a mark and presto the treaty was legal. however these few men did not speak for the People, they were used by the government at the time to do their dirty work. They were close by, usually ameniable, not hostile, and could be molded into whatever the powers that be wanted. Who put these men in charge from the People they were signing for? No one. By doing this they caused big problems for the Tribes, they changed the economy of the People and their whole lives were altered.
Today there are still 'Hang around the fort indians'. people who want to say what all indians should be doing. people who have put themselves into a position of power and don't care what happens to the other indians as long as they get their way. They are neo-traditionalists who really don't follow the old traditions but seem to make up their own rules and regulations and then try to enforce them on everyone else. Traditionally Indians didn't tell other people what to do, each was allowed to walk their own path and as long as they weren't putting the Tribe in danger that was accepted. There were unwritten rules that everyone adhered to of course such as stealing or killing, but when it came to spiritual matters there was no set of rules, there was no set day, or set proceedure to pray. There was no religion, but a way of life that consisted of respecting all things. Respect was the keyword. Today that Respect is not put into play. There is no respect for elders or for the next seven generations to come, there is no respect for the environment, or for the real traditions, none for each other and very often none for themselves.
Once the person who made the Pipes or did any other sacred work for the Tribes was taken care of, he/she was given food, clothes and a roof over their head because the People knew that these people were doing work that no-one else could do, they were like chosen ones who had the ability to do things that the rest of the tribe couldn't do. In Thailand today the Buddhist Monks are still taken care of in that way, they walk through the villiges ringing a bell and the villagers bring them out food and anything else they need because they are so respected as being holy that they should not have to do mundane things like find money for food etc. So it is so awful to see those people who know how to quarry and make pipes being derided for their knowledge and their work, they are chastised by the younger generation for keeping the Pipe alive when it could have died. They are no longer taken care of by the Tribes as they used to be, so they have to find food and money for clothes and housing. A number of generations ago, in the mid 1800's my ancestors were taken care of for coming to Pipestone to get stone, they were given food and clothing to make a pipe for those who needed one. We have heard of horses being given in exchange for a pipe because they were so special and so needed by the People. Today more people want to use a Pipe to pray with so more pipes have to be created than 200 years ago, and who are we to tell people that they cannot pray with a Pipe? It isn't up to us to do that, it is up to the individual and the Creator. I certainly would never tell anyone that they cannot use a pipe to pray with when their spirit is telling them that this is what they must do.
The modest, softly spoken Indian who thought well before he spoke is rare to find today, only brash, loud men who have no knowledge of their Tribes or their traditions are to be found. Of course because they are so loud many people think that they know what thay are talking about, it is a psychological thing, he who shouts the loudest gets heard easier and it is thought that because he is loud he is stronger and so is the top dog. so we should heed his words. Not so in Indian ways, the quieter, the better, but because so many things from the white world have filtered into the Indian world that doctrine is being accepted without question.
Today a few people are again trying to put their values on all of us who pray with the Pipe, these people who are doing this have probably never quarried, or even set foot in a quarry. They have never felt the pain that comes with the exhausting work of quarrying and they have never heard the stone sing as it's lets the quarrier know that it is loose enough to come free and be away from the quartzite that has held it for millenia, they have never felt the elation that comes when that stone is birthed to todays world, to know that it is going to be used for a very special cause, to help Native American people and their way of life to survive and to allow people to pray. If these people have never experienced any of this how can they be allowed to tell those who have, who have spoken to the Creator via the quarrying to stop doing what they have been doing for generations. How big is their ego that they believe that by doing this they are right.
To stop the Pipes from being moved on is to stop the way of life of generations of Native Americans, it is to stop the prayers of the People being sent to the Creator, it is to stop the traditions of the Pipe carrying tribes. It will stop something very special from happening.
Pipes are not sold, the stone is not sold, how can you put a price on such a precious thing? but an exchange is made for the time it takes the quarrier to reach and birth the stone and then make the pipe. Had the protestors ever done this work they would never be saying what they are.
As to the Yankton being the Keepers of the quarries..... That in itself is a joke, where are these Keepers of the quarries? why they reside in South Dakota, not even in the same state as the quarries. How can you caretake something that you have never even seen. No the caretakers and keepers of the quarries are those who have resided in Pipestone for generations, the Dakota people who have worked and lived with the powerful land of the quarries. who have lived and died in close proximity to the quarries, and who have spent their sweat and blood in making sure the quarries are not exposed to desecration. These people are the Pipestone Dakota Community who continued quarrying and making pipes for the people when it was against federal law to do so. They made the pipes and kept the quarrying alive for those who came later to pick up and continue. The tradition never died because the Pipestone Dakota Community kept it alive for the people. Now the people are repaying them for this by blaming them for things they have never done, by stabbing them in the back and painting them as bad people who are doing things against the Pipe. The Pipe would not be around had this Community not continued with the traditions of old. They above anyone else on earth know the importance, the spiritualness, the tradition of the Pipe. How can those who know nothing come in and stop that tradition.
If the Yankton are the 'Keepers of the quarries' where have they been while all of this false stone has been sold on EBay and elsewhere? We have put out so much information on this bad stone from Jasper over the past 10 years, we have tried to get people to stop this by putting a copyright on the Pipestone stone, but the Park service was not interested in that.
Concerning the previous statement, this message came in today June 6th '07 from Jim LaRock the Superintendant of the Pipestone National Monument, I quote, "You may not be aware of this, but several years back, we were concerned that items could be sold to the Shrine by artisans that might have used stone other than that from the Pipestone quarries. I asked the Shrine to include a statement/signoff for all people that brought them pipestone articles that the stone had indeed come from the quarries that their articles were made from.
So far as I know, that is still a requirement when buying from pipemakers and crafts people. So, I'd appreciate a correction on that statement." end quote.
We are happy to include his statement on this page, as that action was a step in the right direction, however what we were talking of here is a way to allow only those who quarry at the Monument to use a name for their stone that no-one else could use. If anyone else did, e.g. on Ebay or in stores, then they could be sued for misleading the public. We started the Pipestone Quarriers Guild so that people could check with us to see if a quarrier did quarry here, we keep a record of all quarriers that we see quarrying and so can say if their stone is from here. Each member gets a number that is unique to them that they can use when they pass the stone on. That number can be checked by us if a member of the public needs to ensure they have the real stone. If we find that one of the quarriers has used the false stone their membership and number is cancelled. This was the closest we as quarriers could get to registering the stone and keeping it's integrity. We believed that the Park service could go further in securing a copyright or registering the stone and that was what we were talking about in the previous paragraph. We had asked and they had said that it couldn't be done.
To continue: And where were the Yankton during those 10 years? Do they even know about the other stone. Of course it is the other stone that is causing all of this problem again because people believe that it is coming from Pipestone. Had they only looked into it they would have found out that there is no way that much stone could be taken out of these quarries the way we quarry here. It would be impossible, even if all of the quarriers joined together with the stone they birth, it would be no-where near the stone coming out from the Jasper quarries. It is very frustrating when we know that this stone is not from here and yet other people believe it is because they have never quarried themselves and don't understand the process. How do we get it through to them that this is not possible to do. We have tried via this website for 10 years and yet these people still believe that there is desicration going on at the sacred quarries. We tear our hair out when we hear such nonsense.
This sounds like America going into Iraq and trying to change their ways when they know nothing about it. we have all seen what chaos has ensued there. Don't let the same thing happen in Pipestone and to the Pipe. All Indian Nations would suffer if this is allowed to happen, just as all of Iraq has suffered because of 'know it alls' who really know nothing.
Modesty, quietness, and humility are what Indians are traditionally about, not the brash people who think they can dictate to all others what will happen to them.
These are my views, thanks for listening,
Updates will be given as we get them