Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians
by George Catlin

(First published in London in 1844)

LETTER—No. 54.


I am bivouacked, at the "Red Pipe Stone Quarry."

I can put the people of the East at rest, as to the hostile aspect of this part of the country, as I have just passed through the midst of these tribes, as well as of the Sioux, in whose country I now am, and can, without contradiction, assert, that, as far as can be known, they are generally well-disposed, and have been so, towards the whites.

Be not amazed if I have sought, in this distant realm, the Indian Muse, for here she dwells, and here she must be invoked nor be offended if my narratives from this moment should savour of poetry or appear like romance.

If I can catch the inspiration, I may sing (or yell) a few epistles from this famed ground before I leave it; or at least I will prose a few of its leading characteristics and mysterious legends. This place is great (not in history, for there is none of it, but) in traditions, and stories, of which this Western world is full and rich.

"Here (according to their traditions), happened the mysterious birth of the red pipe, which has blown its fumes of peace and war to the remotest corners of the Continent; which has visited every warrior, and passed through its reddened stem the irrevocable oath of war and desolation. And there also, the peace-breathing calumet was born, and fringed with the eagle's quills, which has shed its thrilling fumes over the land, and soothed the fury of the relentless savage.

"The Great Spirit at an ancient period, here called the Indian nations together, and standing on the precipice of the red pipe stone rock, broke from its wall a piece, and made a huge pipe by turning it in his hand, which he smoked over them, and to the North, the South, the East, and the West, and told them that this stone was red that it was their flesh that they must use it for their pipes of peace that it belonged to them all, and that the war-club and scalping knife must not be raised on its ground. At the last whiff of his pipe his head went into a great cloud, and the whole surface of the rock for several miles was melted and glazed; two great ovens were opened beneath, and two women (guardian spirits of the place), entered them in a blaze of fire; and they are heard there yet (Tso-mec-cos-tee, and Tso-m e-cos-te-won-dee), answering to the invocations of the high priests or medicine-men, who consult them when they are visitors to this sacred place.''

Near this spot, also, on a high mound, is the "Thunder's nest" (nid-du-Tonnere), where "a very small bird sits upon her eggs during fair weather, and the skies are rent with bolts of thunder at the approach of a storm, which is occasioned by the hatching of her brood!"

"This bird is eternal, and incapable of reproducing her own species: she has often been seen by the medicine-men, and is about as large as the end of the little finger! Her mate is a serpent, whose fiery tongue destroys the young ones as they are hatched, and the fiery noise darts through the skies."

Such are a few of the stories of this famed land, which of itself, in its beauty and loveliness, without the aid of traditionary fame, would be appropriately denominated a paradise. Whether it has been an Indian Eden or not, or whether the thunderbolts of Indian Jupiter are actually forged here, it is nevertheless a place renowned in Indian heraldry and tradition, which I hope I may be able to fathom and chronicle, as explanatory of many of my anecdotes and traditionary superstitions of Indian history, which I have given, and am giving, to the world.

With my excellent companion, I am encamped on, and writing from, the very rock where "the Great Spirit stood when he consecrated the pipe of peace, by moulding it from the rock, and smoking it over the congregated nations that were assembled about him."

Lifted up on this stately mound, whose top is fanned with air as light to breathe as nitrous oxide gas and bivouacked on its very ridge, (where nought on earth is seen in distance save the thousand treeless, bushless, weedless hills of grass and vivid green which all around me vanish into an infinity of blue and azure), stretched on our bears' skins, my fellow-traveller, Mr. Wood, and myself, have laid and contemplated the splendid orrery of the heavens. With sad delight, that shook me with a terror, have I watched the swollen sun shoving down (too fast for time) upon the mystic horizon; whose line was lost except as it was marked in blue across his blood-red disk. Thus have we laid night after night (two congenial spirits who could draw pleasure from sublime contemplation), and descanted on our own insignificance; we have closely drawn our buffalo robes about us, talked of the ills of life of friends we had lost of projects that had failed and of the painful steps we had to retrace to reach our own dear native lands again. We have sighed in the melancholy of twilight, when the busy winds were breathing their last, the chill of sable night was hovering around us, and nought of noise was heard but the silvery tones of the howling wolf, and the subterraneous whistle of the busy gophers that were ploughing and vaulting the earth beneath us. Thus have we seen wheeled down in the West, the glories of day; and at the next moment, in the East beheld her silver majesty jutting up above the horizon, with splendour in her face that seemed again to fill the world with joy and gladness. We have seen here too, in all its sublimity, the blackening thunderstorm the lightning's glare, and stood amidst the jarring thunder-bolts, that tore and broke in awful rage about us, as they rolled over the smooth surface, with nought but empty air to vent their vengeance on. There is a sublime grandeur in these scenes as they are presented here, which must be seen and felt, to be understood. There is a majesty in the very ground that we tread upon, that inspires with awe and reverence; and he must have the soul of a brute, who could gallop his horse for a whole day over swells and terraces of green that rise continually a-head, and tantalize (where hills peep over), and Alps on Alps arise), without feeling his bosom swell with awe and admiration, and himself as well as his thoughts, lifted up in sublimity when he rises the last terrace, and sweeps his eye over the wide spread, blue and pictured infinity that lies around and beneath him. (2)

Man feels here, and startles at the thrilling sensation, the force of illimitable freedom his body and his mind both seem to have entered a new element the former as free as the very wind it inhales, and the other as expanded and infinite as the boundless imagery that is spread in distance around him. Such is (and it is feebly told) the Côteau du Prairie. The rock on which I sit to write, is the summit of a precipice thirty feet high, extending two miles in length and much of the way polished, as if a liquid glazing had been poured over its surface. Not far from us, in the solid rock, are the deep impressed "footsteps of the Great Spirit (in the form of a track of a large bird), where he formerly stood when the blood of the buffaloes that he was devouring, ran into the rocks and turned them red." At a few yards from us, leaps a beautiful little stream, from the top of the precipice, into a deep basin below. Here, amid rocks of the loveliest hues, but wildest contour, is seen the poor Indian performing ablution: and al a little distance beyond, on the plain, at the base of five huge granite boulders, he is humbly propitiating the guardian spirits of the place, by sacrifices of tobacco, entreating for permission to take away a small piece of the red stone for a pipe. Farther along, and over an extended plain are seen, like gophir hills, their excavations, ancient and recent, and on the surface of the rocks, various marks and their sculptured hieroglyphics their wakons, totems and medicines subjects numerous and interesting for the antiquary or the merely curious. Graves, mounds, and ancient fortifications that lie in sight the pyramid or leaping-rock and its legends; together with traditions, novel and numerous, and a description, graphical and geological, of this strange place, have all been subjects that have passed rapidly through my contemplation, and will be given in future epistles.

On our way to this place, my English companion and myself were arrested by a rascally band of the Sioux, and held in durance vile, for having dared to approach the sacred fountain of the pipe! While we had halted at the trading-hut of "Le Blanc," at a place called Traverse des Sioux, on the St. Peters river, and about 150 miles from the Red Pipe, a murky cloud of dark-visaged warriors and braves commenced gathering around the house, closing and cramming all its avenues, when one began his agitated and insulting harangue to us, announcing to us in the preamble, that we were prisoners, and could not go ahead. About twenty of them spoke in turn; and we were doomed to sit nearly the whole afternoon, without being allowed to speak a word in our behalf, until they had all got through. We were compelled to keep our seats like culprits, and hold our tongues, till all had brandished their fists in our faces, and vented all the threats and invective which could flow from Indian malice, grounded on the presumption that we had come to trespass on their dearest privilege, their religion.

There was some allowance to be made, and some excuse, surely, for the rashness of these poor fellows, and we felt disposed to pity, rather than resent, though their unpardonable stubbornness excited us almost to desperation. Their superstition was sensibly touched, for we were persisting, in the most peremptory terms, in the determination to visit this, their greatest medicine (mystery) place; where it seems, they had often resolved no white man should ever be allowed to go. They took us to be "officers sent by Government to see what this place was worth," &c. As "this red stone was a part of their flesh, it would be sacrilegious for white man to touch or take it away" "a hole would be made in their flesh, and the blood could never be made to stop running." My companion and myself were here in a fix, one that demanded the use of every energy we had about us; astounded at so unexpected a rebuff, and more than ever excited to go ahead, and see what was to be seen at this strange place; in this emergency, we mutually agreed to go forward, even if it should be at the hazard of our lives; we heard all they had to say, and then made our own speeches and at length had our horses brought, which we mounted and rode off without further molestation; and having arrived upon this interesting ground, have found it quite equal in interest and beauty to our sanguine expectations, abundantly repaying us for all our trouble in traveling to it.

I had long ago heard many curious descriptions of this spot given by the Indians, and had contracted the most impatient desire to visit it. (3) It will be seen by some of the traditions inserted in this Letter from my notes taken on the Upper Missouri four years since, that those tribes have visited this place freely in former times; and that it has once been held and owned in common, as neutral ground, amongst the different tribes who met here to renew their pipes, under some superstition which stayed the tomahawk of natural foes, always raised in deadly hate and vengeance in other places. It will be seen also, that within a few years past (and that, probably, by the instigation of the whites, who have told them that by keeping off other tribes, and manufacturing the pipes themselves, and trading them to other adjoining nations, they can acquire much influence and wealth), the Sioux have laid entire claim to this quarry; and as it is in the centre of their country, and they are more powerful than any other tribes, they are able successfully to prevent any access to it.

That this place should have been visited for centuries past by all the neighboring tribes, who have hidden the war-club as they approached it, and stayed the cruelties of the scalping-knife, under the fear of the vengeance of the Great Spirit, who overlooks it, will not seem strange or unnatural, when their religion and superstitions are known.

That such has been the custom, there is not a shadow of doubt; and that even so recently as to have been witnessed by hundreds and thousands of Indians of different tribes, now living, and from many of whom I have personally drawn the information, some of which will be set forth in the following traditions; and as an additional (and still more conclusive) evidence of the above position, here are to be seen (and will continue to be seen for ages to come), the totems and arms of the different tribes, who have visited this place for ages past, deeply engraved on the quartz rocks, where they are to be recognized in a moment (and not to be denied) by the passing traveller, who has been among these tribes, and acquired even but a partial knowledge of them and their respective modes. (4)

The thousands of inscriptions and paintings on the rocks at this place, as well as the ancient diggings for the pipe-stone, will afford amusement for the world who will visit it, without furnishing the least data, I should think, of the time at which these excavations commenced, or of the period at which the Sioux assumed the exclusive right to it.

Among the many traditions which I have drawn personally from the different tribes, and which go to support the opinion above advanced, is the following one, which was related to me by a distinguished Knisteneaux, on the Upper Missouri, four years since, on occasion of presenting to me a handsome red stone pipe. After telling me that he had been to this place and after describing it in all its features, he proceeded to say:

"That in the time of a great freshet, which took place many centuries ago, and destroyed all the nations of the earth, all the tribes of the red men assembled on the Côteau du Prairie, to get out of the way of the waters. After they had all gathered here from all parts, the water continued to rise, until at length it covered them all in a mass, and their flesh was converted into red pipe stone. Therefore it has always been considered neutral ground it belonged to all tribes alike, and all were allowed to get it and smoke it together.

"While they were all drowning in a mass, a young woman, K-wap-tah-w (a virgin), caught hold of the foot of a very large bird that was flying over, and was carried to the top of a high cliff, not far off, that was above the water. Here she had twins, and their father was the war-eagle, and their children have since peopled the earth.

"The pipe stone, which is the flesh of their ancestors, is smoked by them as the symbol of peace, and the eagle's quill decorates the head of the brave.''

Tradition of the Sioux. "Before the creation of man, the Great Spirit (whose tracks are yet to be seen on the stones, at the Red Pipe, in form of the tracks of a large bird) used to slay the buffaloes and eat them on the ledge of the Red Rocks, on the top of the Côteau des Prairies, and their blood running on to the rocks, turned them red. One day when a large snake had crawled into the nest of the bird to eat his eggs, one of the eggs hatched out in a clay of thunder and the Great Spirit catching hold of a piece of the pipe stone to throw at the snake, moulded it into a man. This man's feet grew fast in the ground where he stood for many ages, like a great tree, and therefore he grew very old; he was older than an hundred men at the present day; and at last another tree grew up by the side of him, when a large snake ate them both off at the roots, and they wandered off together; from these have sprung all the people that now inhabit the earth."

The above tradition I found amongst the Upper Missouri Sioux, but which, when I related to that part of the great tribe of Sioux who inhabit the Upper Mississippi, they seemed to know nothing about it. The reason for this may have been, perhaps, as is often the case, owing to the fraud or excessive ignorance of the interpreter, on whom we are often entirely dependent in this country; or it is more probably owing to the very vague and numerous fables which may often be found, cherished and told by different bands or families in the same tribe, and relative to the same event.

I shall on a future occasion, give you a Letter on traditions of this kind, which will be found to be very strange and amusing; establishing the fact at the same time, that theories respecting their origin, creation of the world, &c. &c., are by ne means uniform throughout the different tribes, nor even through an individual tribe; and that very many of these theories are but the vagaries, or the ingenious systems of their medicine or mystery-men, conjured up and taught to their own respective parts of a tribe, for the purpose of gaining an extraordinary influence over the minds and actions of the remainder of the tribe, whose superstitious minds, under the supernatural control and dread of these self-made magicians, are held in a stale of mysterious vassalage.

Amongst the Sioux of the Mississippi, and who live in the region of the Red Pipe Stone Quarry, I found the following and not less strange tradition on the same subject. "Many ages after the red men were made, when all the different tribes were at war, the Great Spirit sent runners and called them all together at the 'Red Pipe.' He stood on the top of the rocks, and the red people were assembled in infinite numbers on the plains below. He took out of the rock a piece of the red stone, and made a large pipe; he smoked it over them all; told them that it was part of their flesh; that though they were at war, they must meet at this place as friends; that it belonged to them all; that they must make their calumets from it and smoke them to him whenever they wished to appease him or get his good-will the smoke from his big pipe rolled over them all, and he disappeared in its cloud; at the last whiff of his pipe a blaze of fire rolled over the rocks, and melted their surface at that moment two squaws went in a blaze of fire under the two medicine rocks, where they remain to this day, and must be consulted and propitiated whenever the pipe stone is to be taken away."

The following speech of a Mandan, which was made to me in the Mandan village four years since, after I had painted his picture, I have copied from my note-book as corroborative of the same facts:

"My brother You have made my picture and I like it much. My friends tell me they can see the eyes move, and it must be very good it must be partly alive. I am glad it is done though many of my people are afraid. I am a young man, but my heart is strong. I have jumped on to the medicine-rock I have placed my arrow on it and no Mandan can take it away. (5) The red stone is slippery, but my foot was true it did not slip. My brother, this pipe which I give to you, I brought from a high mountain, it is toward the rising sun many were the pipes that we brought from there and we brought them away in peace. We left our totems or marks on the rocks we cut them deep in the stones, and they are there now. The Great Spirit told all nations to meet there in peace, and all nations hid the war-club and the tomahawk. The Dah-co-tahs, who are our enemies, are very strong they have taken up the tomahawk, and the blood of our warriors has run on the rocks. My friend, we want to visit our medicines our pipes are old and worn out. My friend, I wish you to speak to our Great Father about this."

The chief of the Puncahs, on the Upper Missouri, also made the following allusion to this place, in a speech which he made to me on the occasion of presenting me a very handsome pipe about four years since:

"My friend, this pipe, which I wish you to accept, was dug from the ground, and cut and polished as you now see It, by my hands. I wish you to keep it, and when you smoke through it, recollect that this red stone is a part of our flesh. This is one of the last things we can ever give away. Our enemies the Sioux, have raised the red flag of blood over the Pipe Stone Quarry, and our medicines there are trodden under foot by them. The Sioux are many, and we cannot go to the mountain of the red pipe. We hare seen all nations smoking together at that place but, my brother, it is not so now." (6)

Such are a few of the stories relating to this curious place, and many others might be given which I have procured, though they amount to nearly the same thing, with equal contradictions and equal absurdities.

The position of the Pipe Stone Quarry, is in a direction nearly West from the Fall of St. Anthony, at a distance of three hundred miles, on the summit of the dividing ridge between the St. Peters and the Missouri rivers, being about equi-distant from either. This dividing ridge is denominated by the French, the "Côteau des Prairies," and the "Pipe Stone Quarry" is situated near its southern extremity, and consequently not exactly on its highest elevation, as its general course is north and south, and its southern extremity terminates in a gradual slope.

Our approach to it was from the East, and the ascent, for the distance of fifty miles, over a continued succession of slopes and terraces, almost imperceptibly rising one above another, that seemed to lift us to a great height. The singular character of this majestic mound, continues on the West side, in its descent toward the Missouri. There is not a tree or bush to be seen from the highest summit of the ridge, though the eye may range East and West, almost to a boundless extent, over a surface covered with short grass, that is green at one's feet, and about him, but changing to blue in distance, like nothing but the blue and vastness of the ocean.

The whole surface of this immense tract of country is hard and smooth, almost without stone or gravel, and coated with a green turf of grass of three or four inches only in height. Over this the wheels of a carriage would run as easily, for hundreds of miles, as they could on a McAdamized road, and its graceful gradations would in all parts, admit of a horse to gallop, with ease to himself and his rider.

The full extent and true character of these vast prairies are but imperfectly understood by the world yet; who will agree with me that they are a subject truly sublime, for contemplation, when I assure them, that "a coach and four" might be driven with ease, (with the exception of rivers and ravines, which are in many places impassable), over unceasing fields of green, from the Fall of St. Anthony to Lord Selkirk's Establishment on the Red River, at the North; from that to the mouth of Yellow Stone on the Missouri—thence to the Platte to the Arkansas, and Red Rivers of the South, and through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of more than three thousand miles.

I mentioned in a former Letter, that we had been arrested by the Sioux, on our approach to this place, at the trading-post of Le Blanc, on the banks of the St. Peters; and I herein insert the most important part of the speeches made, and talks held on that momentous occasion, as near as my friend and I could restore them, from partial notes and recollection. After these copper-visaged advocates of their country's rights had assembled about us, and filled up every avenue of the cabin, the grave council was opened in the following manner:

Te-o-kun-hko (the swift man), first rose and said

"My friends, I am not a chief, but the son of a chief I am the son of my father he is a chief and when he is gone away, it is my duty to speak for him he is not here but what I say is the talk of his mouth. We have been told that you are going to the Pipe Stone Quarry. We come now to ask for what purpose you are going, and what business you have to go there." ('How! how!' vociferated all of them, thereby approving what was said, giving assent by the word how, which is their word for yes).

"Brothers I am a brave, but not a chief my arrow stands in the top of the leaping-rock; all can see it, and all know that Te-o-kun-hko's foot has been there. ('How! how!')

"Brothers We look at you and we see that you are Che-mo-ke-mon captains (white men officers): we know that you have been sent by your Government, to see what that place is worth, and we think the white people want to buy it. ('How, how').

"Brothers We have seen always that the white people, when they see anything in our country that they want, send officers to value it, and then if they can't buy it, they will get it some other way. ('How! how!')

"Brothers I speak strong, my heart is strong, and I speak fast; this red pipe was given to the red men by the Great Spirit it is a part of our flesh, and therefore is great medicine. ('How! how!')

"Brothers We know that the whites are like a great cloud that rises in the East: and will cover the whole country. We know that they will have all our lands; but, if ever they get our Red Pipe Quarry they will have to pay very dear for it. (How! how! how!)

"Brothers We know that no white man has ever been to the Pipe Stone Quarry, and our chiefs have often decided in council that no white man shall ever go to it. ('How! how!')

"Brothers You have heard what I have to say, and you can go no further, but you must turn about and go back. ('How! how! how!')

"Brothers You see that the sweat runs from my face, for I am troubled." Then I commenced to reply in the following manner:

"My friends, I am sorry that you have mistaken us so much, and the object of our visit to your country. We are not officers we are not sent by any one we are two poor men travelling to see the Sioux and shake hands with them, and examine what is curious or interesting in their country. This man who is with me is my friend; he is a Sa-ga-nosh (an Englishman). (How! how! how!)

(All rising and shaking hands with him, and a number of them taking out and showing British medals which were carried in their bosoms.)

"We have heard that the Red Pipe Quarry was a great curiosity, and we have started to go to it, and we will not be stopped." (Here I was interrupted by a grim and black-visaged fellow, who shook his long shaggy locks as he rose, with his sunken eyes fixed in direst hatred on me, and his fist brandished within an inch of my face.)

"Pale faces! you cannot speak till we have all done; you are our prisoners our young men (our soldiers) are about the house, and you must listen to what we have to say. What has been said to you is true, you must go back. ('How! how!')

"We heard the word Saganosh, and it makes our hearts glad; we shook hand with our brother his father is our father he is our Great Father he lives across the big lake his son is here, and we are glad we wear our Great Father the sag-a-nosh on our bosoms, and we keep his face bright. (7) we shake hands, but no white man has been to the red pipe and none shall go. ('How!')

"You see (holding a red pipe to the side of his naked arm) that this pipe is a part of our flesh. The red men are a part of the red stone. ('How, how!')

"If the white men take away a piece of the red pipe stone, it is a hole made in our flesh, and the blood will always run. We cannot stop the blood from running. ('How, how!')

"The Great Spirit has told us that the red stone is only to be used for pipes, and through them we are to smoke to him. ('How!')

"Why do the white men want to get there? You have no good object in view; we know you have none, and the sooner you go back, the better." (How, how!)

Muz-za (the iron) spoke next.

"My friends, we do not wish to harm you; you have heard the words of our chief men, and you now see that you must go back. (How, how!)

"Tchan-dee-pah-sha-kah-free (the red pipe stone) was given to us by the Great Spirit, and no one need ask the price of it, for it is medicine. ('How, how!')

"My friends, I believe what you have told us; I think your intentions are good; but our chiefs have always told us, that no white man was allowed to go there and you cannot go." ('How, how!')

Another. "My friends, you see I am a young man: you see on my war-club two scalps from my enemies' heads; my hands have been dipped in blood, but I am a good man. I am a friend to the whites, to the traders; and they are your friends. I bring them 3000 muskrat skins every year, which I catch in my own traps. ('How, how!')

"We love to go to the Pipe Stone, and get a piece for our pipes; but we ask the Great Spirit first. If the white men go to it, they will take it out, and not fill up the holes again, and the Great Spirit will be offended." ('How, how, how!')

Another. "My friends, listen to me! what I am to say will be the truth. ('How!')

"I brought a large piece of the pipe stone, and gave it to a white man to make a pipe; he was our trader, and I wished him to have a good pipe. The next time I went to his store, I was unhappy when I saw that stone made into a dish! ('Eugh!')

"This is the way the white men would use the red pipe stone, if they could get it. Such conduct would offend the Great Spirit, and make a red man's heart sick. ('How, how!')

"Brothers, we do not wish to harm you if you turn about and go back, you will be well, both you and your horses you cannot go forward. ('How, how!')

"We know that if you go to the pipe stone, the Great Spirit looks upon you the white people do not think of that. ('How, how!')

"I have no more to say."

These, and a dozen other speeches to the same effect, having been pronounced, I replied in the following manner:

"My friends, you have entirely mistaken us; we are no officers, nor are we sent by any one the white men do not want the red pipe it is not worth their carrying home so far, if you were to give it all to them. Another thing, they don't use pipes they don't know how to smoke them.

'How, how!'

"My friends, I think as you do, that the Great Spirit has given that place to the red men for their pipes.

'How, how, how!'

"I give you great credit for the course you are taking to preserve and protect it; and I will do as much as any man to keep white men from taking it away from you.

'How, how!'

"But we have started to go and see it; and we cannot think of being stopped."

Another rose (interrupting me):

"White men! your words are very smooth; you have some object in view or you would not be so determined to go you have no good design, and the quicker you turn back the better; there is no use of talking any more about it if you think best to go, try it; that's all I have to say." ('How, how!')

During this scene, the son of Monsr. Le Blanc was standing by, and seeing this man threatening me so hard by putting his fist near my face: he several times stepped up to him, and told him to stand back at a respectful distance, or that he would knock him down. After their speaking was done, I made a few remarks, stating that we should go ahead, which we did the next morning, by saddling our horses and riding off through the midst of them, as I have before described.

Le Blanc told us, that these were the most disorderly and treacherous part of the Sioux nation, that they had repeatedly threatened his life, and that he expected they would take it. He advised us to go back as they ordered; but we heeded not his advice.

On our way we were notified at several of their villages which we passed, that we must go back; but we proceeded on, and over a beautiful prairie country, of one hundred miles or more, when our Indian guide brought us to the trading-house of an old acquaintance of mine, Monsieur La Fromboise, who lives very comfortably, and in the employment of the American Fur Company, near the base of the Côteau, and forty or fifty miles from the Pipe Stone Quarry.

We spent a day or two very pleasantly with this fine and hospitable fellow, until we had rested from the fatigue of our journey; when he very kindly joined us with fresh horses, and piloted us to the Pipe Stone Quarry, where he is now encamped with us, a jolly companionable man, and familiar with most of the events and traditions of this strange place, which he has visited on former occasions. (8)



(1) This very distinguished old chief, I have learned, died a few weeks after I painted his portrait.

(2) The reader and traveller who may have this book with him, should follow the Côteau a few miles to the North of the Quarry, for the highest elevation and greatest sublimity of view.

(3) I have in former epistles, several times spoken of the red pipes of the Indians which are found in almost every tribe of Indians on the Continent; and in every instance have, I venture to say, been brought from the Côteau des Prairies, inasmuch as no tribe of Indians that I have yet visited, have ever apprized me of any other source than this; and the stone from which they are all manufactured, is of the same character exactly, and different from any known mineral compound ever yet discovered in any part of Europe, or other parts of the American Continent. This may be thought a broad assertion—yet it is one I have ventured to make (and one I should have had no motive for making, except for the purpose of eliciting information, if there be any, on a subject so curious and so exceedingly interesting). In my INDIAN MUSEUM there can always be seen a great many beautiful specimens of this mineral selected on the spot, by myself, embracing all of its numerous varieties; and I challenge the world to produce anything like it, except it be from the same locality. In a following Letter will be found a further account of it, and its chemical analysis.

(4) I am aware that this interesting fact may be opposed by subsequent travellers, who will find nobody but the Sioux upon this ground, who now claim exclusive right to it; and for the satisfaction of those who doubt, I refer them to Lewis and Clark's Tour thirty-three years since, before the influence of Traders had deranged the system and truth of things in these regions. I have often conversed with General Clark, of St. Louis, on this subject, and he told me explicitly, and authorized me to say it to the world, that every tribe on the Missouri told him they had been to this place, and that the Great Spirit kept the peace amongst his red children on that ground, where they had smoked their enemies.

(5) The medicine (or leaping) rock is a part of the precipice which has become severed from the main part, standing about seven or eight feet from the wall, just equal in height, and about seven feet in diameter.

It stands like an immense column of thirty-five feet high, and highly polished on its top and sides. It requires a daring effort to leap on to its top from the main wall, and back again, and many a heart has sighed for the honor of the feat without daring to make the attempt. Some few have tried it with success, and left their arrows standing in its crevice, several of which are seen there at this time; others have leapt the chasm and fallen from the slippery surface on which they could not hold, and suffered instant death upon the draggy rocks below. Every young man in the nation is ambitious to perform this feat; and those who hare successfully done it are allowed to boast of it all their lives. In tire sketch already exhibited, there will be seen, a view of the "leaping rock;" and in the middle of the picture, a mound, of a conical form, of ten feet height, which was erected over the body of a distinguished young man who was killed by making this daring effort, about two years before I was there, and whoso sad fate was related to me by a Sioux chief, who was father of the young man, and was visiting the Red Pipe Stone Quarry, with thirty others of his tribe, when we were there, and died over the grave, as he related the story to Mr. Wood and myself, of his son's death.

(6) On my return from the Pipe Stone Quarry, one of the old chiefs of the Sacs, on seeing some specimens of the stone which I brought with me from that place, observed as follows:

"My friend, when I was young, I used to go with our young men to the mountain of the Red Pipe, and dig out pieces for our pipes. We do not go now; and our led pipes as you see, are few. The Dah-co-tah's have spilled the blood of red men on that place, and the Great Spirit is offended. The white traders have told them to draw their bows upon us when we go there; and they have offered us many of the pipes for sale, but we do not want to smoke them, for we know that the Great Spirit is offended. My mark is on the rocks in many places, but I shall never see them again. They lie where the Great Spirit sees them, for his eye is over that place, and he sees everything that is here."

Ke-o-kuck chief of the Sacs and Foxes, when I asked him whether he had ever been there, replied

"No, I have never seen it; it is in our enemies' country, I wish it was in ours I would sell it to the whites for a great many boxes of money."

(7) Many and strong are the recollections of the Sioux and other tribes, of their alliance with the British in the last and revolutionary wars, of which I have met many curious instances, one of which was correctly reported in the London Globe, from my Lectures, and I here insert it.

(8) This gentleman, the summer previous to this, while I was in company with him at Prairie du Chien, gave me a very graphic account of the Red Pipe Stone Quarry, and made for me, From recollection, a chart of it, which I yet possess, and which was drawn with great accuracy.