s/y Nine of Cups
Pipestone National Monument - Minnesota
June 2012
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For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site. These grounds are sacred to
many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe's smoke
carries one's prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.   The story of this
stone and the pipes made from it may span as much as 2,000 years of Plains Indian life. Inseparable from the traditions that
structured daily routine and honored the spirit world, pipes figured prominently in the ways of the village and in dealings
between tribes.                  
(from NPS brochure and website)

In 1937, Congress established the Pipestone National Monument to protect the land from exploitation and settlers and to
provide traditional quarrying for the Native Americans in the area.

We stopped at the Visitor's Center and viewed the exhibitions. Evidently the usual carvers and craftsmen had not yet begun
work for the day, but the morning was beautiful and the Circle Trail through the park and quarry was lovely.
We left South Dakota and crossed the state border
into Minnesota. We didn't have to go too far before
we found Pipestone National Monument. We'd
never heard of it before. As has been our
experience, the lesser known parks and monuments
seem to offer uncrowded spaces and unique views
of America.
Pipestone National Monument is one of the few remaining areas of native tallgrass prairie.  Over 400,000 square
miles of tall grass prairie once covered the Midwest.  Less than 1% of the original tall grass prairie remains today.
A view of the Pipestone Creek looks tranquil above, but flooded its banks in 2010. Note the red prayer cloth tied to the tree in the
foreground of the photo. The Winnewissa Falls are a scenic part of the Circle Trail through the park grounds. The red stripes of catlinite in
the stone above which is extracted by the quarry diggers for use in the making of pipes. Prairie phlox was prolific in the tall prairie grass
that grew along the pathways.
"The stone is our blood, as red as our skin. The
opening of the bowl is our mouth and the smoke
rising from it is our breath, the visible breath of our
people. The pipe is our most sacred
possession...the heart of all our
Lame Deer
Catlinite, or "pipestone", has been
traditionally used to make ceremonial
pipes, vitally important to traditional
Plains Indian religious practices. The
quarries are sacred to most of the
tribes of North America and were
neutral territory where all Nations could
quarry stone for ceremonial pipes.
Old Stone Face, one of the rock
formations along the Circle Trail.
We saw and heard lots of birds
along the path including this
American goldfinch.
More prayer cloths near the
quarry entrance.