Pipestone National Monument

Pipestone National Monument is a memorial of the type of National Monuments in the southwest of the U.S. state of Minnesota, near the border with South Dakota. It preserves the quarries of the "Holy mudstone ", from the Plains Indians have cut the heads of their Calumets and cut up today.

The quarries were sold in 1928 by the Yankton Sioux to the federal government, in 1937 the National Monument was established. It is under the administration of the National Park Service and is one of the size and number of visitors to the small bodies of the NPS.


The red stone in Pipestone is Catlinit. This special mudstone is almost free of quartz and is found only in today's reserve. He is in thin layers under and between much thicker layers of quartzite from the Statherium, mya before about 1630 to 1750. Both the so-called Sioux quartzite, and the Catlinit are originated from sediments, quartzite went in geologically long time out of sands, whose quartz content is joined under pressure and so reached the hardness of steel. So he is a metamorphic rock. The Catlinit consists of pyrophyllite, diaspore, muscovite and kaolinite. Traces of hematite give the stone its red color. It is much softer and could therefore be also carved bone tools. There are only known five thin layers of Catlinit in a narrow strip of about one kilometer long.

Named Catlinit after George Catlin, a painter and author who went into the 1830s in the western United States and also reported on the mythology of the Indian pipes.


The quarries of Pipestone were opened already years ago, about 3000. Artifacts from Catlinit were found in a wide space extending from present-day Ohio, to South Dakota and Kansas River. Since the early 18th century they were controlled by the Yankton Sioux. They won the mudstone, which was recognized by all Plains Indians as the best material for their pipes, and negotiated it through the entire Great Plains. Based on the stone and other goods attempted to Yankton, other nations further west to subdue and to deny them access to their territory and its resources.

Only in the 19th century reported whiteness of the quarries. The pipes and the stone they knew since the 17th century, but the origin of the material for them was of little interest. 1831 or 1832 was the first detailed report about 1835 probably won Joseph LaFramboise, a trader for the American Fur Company and is even partly Indians, mudstone from the quarries. 1836 came George Catlin in the region and created a famous painting showing the quartzite cliff in the background, working on a quarry before the Indians. The boulders in the picture dominate the area to this day. Catlin also reported extensively on the spiritual meaning of the pipe and the pipe stone.

In about the same time, the shapes of the bowls developed further. It originated animal and human figures, round disc shapes and the typical T-shape. The pipes were popular with whites and the carvings were on the ceremonial function, economic importance.

1855 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, which was based largely on the reports Catlins. It starts at the quarries with the deity Gitche Manito, who smokes the calumet of Pipestone and all Indians calls for cooperation and peacefulness. The quarries were now also in the minds of whites to a known mythological place, even if they themselves were hardly known.

1838 came Joseph Nicollet and John Charles Fremont on an expedition the U.S. Army to the quarries, six members of her department have left their name trains in quartzite cliff, where they can be seen to this day. And Nicollet published the first map on which the quarries were recorded. With the changing awareness and the pressure of the white rose to the Indians of the region. 1851 signed some Sioux peoples contracts which undertook to emigrate to the West and to leave their ancestral lands to the whites. 1858 signed the Yankton after their chiefs had traveled to Washington, where they received the permanent right to use the quarries. For them, 650 acres were determined around the quarries, about 263 hectares. The people moved about 250 km to the west in a Rervation in Dakota Territory near Fort Randall, in what is now Charles Mix County, South Dakota.

In 1859, the area was surveyed and reported the reserved for the Yankton country on the map. The government did nothing to protect the quarries, as more and more streamed whites in the region after the conclusion of the contract. 1862, the company Hubbell and Hawley won larger amounts Pipestone, they exchanged the various western Indian peoples against Bison leather. From 1871, the first settlers established themselves after the Homestead Act in the region, one of which was a plot enter within the Indian country. In 1876 they founded the city of Pipestone in close proximity to the eponymous quarries, which evolved into a regional trading center. In the same year, the first conflicts of the area of the Indians arose. 1880 was a massive commercial mining of quartzite as a building material instead of just inside the Indian territory. In addition, the Homesteader in the first instance won his trial, although he hatt built within the area reserved for the Yankton country.

The National Monument today

The National Park Service regulates the degradation of Catlinit in the 54 mines in the area. Each recognized under federal law Indians in the United States may apply for a mining permit. There are one-year permits, which can be extended, and short-term permits for a month, which are usually applied for their own use. The waiting period is about four years for temporary permits and six or more years for a full-year quarry.

The pipestone is obtained exclusively by hand. For this, the steel-hard quartzite has to be knocked out, to get at Catlinit. The pits are between four and six meters deep.

Visitors will find the Visitor Center, an exhibition on the history and culture of the region and they can watch Indian craftsmen carving. The mines are located in one of the few original and never farmlands of high - grass prairies of North America. Through the reserve a little river.