Pipestone & the Crossroads of Native America

The Bad River Band of Of Lake Superior Chippewas

Stone pipes were long known among the prehistoric peoples of North America; specimens from 2,000 years ago have been found at Mound City in present-day Ohio. Digging at Pipestone’s quarry in present-day Minnesota likely began in the 17th century, a time which coincided with the acquisition of metal tools from European traders. Carvers prized this durable yet relatively soft stone, which ranged in color from mottled pink to brick red.  This location came to be the preferred source of Pipestone among the Plains tribes.

Plains Indian culture has undergone radical change since the era of the free-ranging buffalo herds, yet pipe carving is by no means a lost art. Carvings today are appreciated as artworks as well as for ceremonial use. Once again, as commanded by the spirit bird in the Sioux story of creation, the Pipestone here is quarried by anyone of Indian ancestry. An age-old tradition continues in the modern world, ever changing yet firmly rooted in the past.

With Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers, visitors have an opportunity to take a workshop or multi-day tour to learn about the pipemaking tradition and Native American culture.  The sample itinerary below can be customized for your tour group:

Day 1: Morning arrival in Pipestone, Minnesota

  • Tribal storytelling and histories of pipestone
  • Noon lunch (Indian tacos by Keepers)
  • American Indian Dance Presentation
  • Guided tour of Pipestone National Monument
  • Attend tribal concert: Connecting the Circle
  • Dinner and overnight in Pipestone

Day 2: Tribal Cultural Immersion Day at Leon’s Nature Preserve

  • Create tribal art such as pipestone carving
  • Identify and eat tribal foods of the region
  • Learn about traditions and ceremonies
  • Overnight opportunity: assemble and stay in primitive lodge

Day 3: Pow-Wow & Native Food Cook-off

  • Depending on availability and time of year

Day 4: Visit Jeffers Petroglyphs

  • See native carvings in the rocks that date back thousands of years
  • Give respect and reverence at this sacred site
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Storytelling & Pipestone Carving Pipestone, Minnesota (507) 825-3734 pipekeepers.org

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