No Guns On Sacred Pipestone National Monument Grounds

"People will soon (January 2009) be able to carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.

The Bush administration said Friday it is overturning a 25-year-old federal rule that severely restricts loaded guns in national parks.

Under a rule to take effect in January, visitors will be able to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge — but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon and if the state where the park or refuge is located also allows concealed firearms.

The new rule goes further than a draft proposal issued last spring and would allow concealed weapons even in parks located in states that explicitly ban the carrying of guns in state parks. Some states allow concealed weapons but also ban guns from parks. " (From MSNBC December 5th 2008)


What exactly does this mean?

It means that in places such as Pipestone National Monument, which is a National Park, people will be able to carry a concealed weapon. Not only that but it can be loaded and ready to fire as well!

There are a number of issues pertaining to this new ruling and I will go into them later, but for now I will explain why the Pipestone National Monument should be exempt.

From time immemorial 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. 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.

The Three Maidens

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. Traditional enemies could quarry side by side without fear of being attacked, their weapons were all buried and so they knew they would be safe to do the work for their Tribe or family, the spiritual work of quarrying for the sacred red stone that would one day be made into a Pipe to use for their prayers to be made to the Creator.

You see the Pipestone Quarries have ALWAYS been looked at by the People as being a tremendously powerful and Wakan area. Archeological evidence indicates that the quarrying of pipestone has been happening for the past 3000 years here and the People walked gently while on the Land. This land had been chosen by the Great Spirit to be Sacred, and that has always been recognised by those who have an earth based spirituality.

Today the quarries are still special, and Native Americans continue to visit the area to dig for the soft red stone for their Pipes and weapons were still not allowed on the sacred grounds until this ruling by a group of people who know nothing about the history, the traditions or the spirituality of the Monument. The Superintendant of the Monument, Glen Livermont, did try to explain about this but it fell on deaf ears.

This shows Chuck Derby quarrying peacefully in 1996. He is finding cracks in the quartzite, a time consuming job, once he finds the crack he is looking for he taps a wedge into it, gradually the crack opens up and eventually a quartzite slab will break away, This then has to be discarded, as it is the second hardest rock in the world and cannot be used. You can see the pile of rock to his right and behind him that was discarded by him and his family members reaching back probably a thousand years.

The quarriers like Chuck expect to be safe in their workplace, the job is dangerous enough and many have been injured doing it. They do not need any more hazards.

Prior to quarrying every day Chuck prays and gives offerings to the Creator in the form of tobacco, (food for the Spirits) and he asks that his work will be safe and that if he is doing right the Pipestone will be easy to reach. This quest sometimes takes 3 months.

I often sit above him watching him work in the quarry and I feel the peacefullness, of the area. I watch the deer as they walk by me and I see the eagles as they fly above us. It is the most beautiful experience. I will not want to be there if I know that the visitors who pass us or stop to talk are carrying weapons.

At Sundance that is held on the Monument grounds every year, only knives with a blade less than 4 inches are allowed, and those are only there for work purposes. Now I wonder what will happen, which takes precedence, Sundance rules or federal rules? If as I suspect federal rules over-rule then this means that Sundancers will not feel safe making their prayers because one of the visitors could be concealing a weapon and may just shoot them. It is ludicrous. I remember a number of years ago at the end of Sundance, the Park Superintendant at the time came down to the grounds for the feast, with her were a couple of security rangers who were wearing their guns. Word went around the many People who were there, and these park people were snubbed by the Sundancers and their supporters. Everyone was aghast that anyone should go against Sundance rules and come onto the sacred space with weapons. It was very distasteful, and disrespectful.

The Pipestone National Monument is a small Park, it only contains 283 acres. Much of the area surrounding the quarries is grass prairie where people do not walk. The only area that people are on is the 3/4 mile Circle trail, or actually quarrying. The rest of the area is stepped on only by the animals that reside here. A small enough area to secure for the visitors safety without them carrying their own weapons. It is a quiet, peaceful place, with few visitors in the winter, more in the summer but never enough to be out of control of the park Rangers.

The lichen that is growing on the ancient stones either on the rock face or the old pile of stones at Chuck's quarry, takes 100 years to grow (travel) an inch. Just by that statistic it shows how long these quarries have been in use. In Pipestone grasses and prairie flowers grow in abundance around the quarries, sage is there for the picking to smudge, or use as a medicine when the quarrier needs to use it, and the peace and quiet is so great that if it wasn't for the birds singing and the bees gently humming you would think you had gone deaf.

Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy the scenery without having to worry in case the person next to you has a gun that he, or she, could use at the drop of a hat.

Guns belong to Warrior's, but the Pipestone National Monument is not a battle-field, it is a Church, the Church of the Native American People, and weapons do NOT belong there. Would you take a loaded gun into your Church?


All photos and text on this site is the copyright of Gloria Hazell. 1998 - date.