Pipestone National Monument
|Location||Sweet Township, Pipestone County, Minnesota|
|Nearest city||Pipestone, Minnesota|
|Area||281.78 acres (1.14 km²)|
|Website||Pipestone National Monument|
|MPS||Pipestone County MRA (AD)|
|NRHP reference No.||66000112|
|Designated HD||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NMON||August 25, 1937|
Pipestone National Monument is located in southwestern Minnesota, just north of the city of Pipestone, Minnesota. It is located along the highways of U.S. Route 75, Minnesota State Highway 23 and Minnesota State Highway 30. The quarries are sacred to many tribal nations of North America, including the Dakota, Lakota, and other tribes of Native Americans, and were considered neutral territory in the historic past where all Nations could quarry stone for ceremonial pipes. The catlinite, or "pipestone" is traditionally used to make ceremonial pipes, vitally important to traditional Plains Indian religious practices. Archeologists believe the site has been in use for over 3000 years with Minnesota pipestone having been found inside North American burial mounds dated much earlier.
By the 1700s, the Sioux were the dominate tribe in the area. In 1851 the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of the Dakota signed the Traverse des Sioux treaty ceding southwest Minnesota to the U.S. Government including the quarry. However, some of that ceded land was claimed by the Yankton people and they were not present nor signers of the treaty. To protect the site, the Yankton Sioux secured unrestricted access via article 8 of the Yankton Treaty signed on April 19, 1858. That created a one-mile square reservation, of over 600 acres which was encroached upon by settlers multiple times. In 1891, the United States took a 100 acre parcel of the Yankton's Pipestone Reservation to build the Pipestone Indian School. The Yankton tribe contested this seizure as illegal taking their claim to the U.S Supreme Court. The court ruled in their favor in 1926 and ordered that they be compensated. Afterwards, the land came under full control of the U.S. Government. The Pipestone Indian School closed in 1953 with the acreage remaining from the school transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to create the Pipestone Wildlife Management Area.
The National Monument was established by an act of Congress on August 25, 1937, with the establishing legislation reaffirming the quarrying rights of the Native Americans. Today only Indigenous people from 23 tribal nations, with treaties with the National Park Service, are allowed to quarry the pipestone. A boundary change occurred on June 18, 1956 with the original reservation reduced to just 108 acres. The historic area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the heading "Cannomok'e—Pipestone National Monument". The Red Pipestone Quarries within the monument are also designated as a Minnesota State Historic Site.
During the summer months, there are cultural demonstrations at the monument. The Upper Midwest Indian Cultural Center, located inside the visitor center, sponsors demonstrations of pipemaking by Native craftworkers using the stone from the quarries. Local Native Americans carve the stones using techniques passed down from their ancestors. Many of the demonstrators are third or fourth generation pipe makers. Visitors can also walk along a three-quarter mile (1.2 km) self-guided trail to view the pipestone quarries and a waterfall. A trail guide is available at the visitor center. About 260 acres (1.1 km2) of the national monument has been restored to native tallgrass prairie. Monument staff burn prairie parcels on a rotating basis to control weeds and stimulate growth of native grasses. A larger area of restored tallgrass prairie and a small bison herd are maintained by the Minnesota DNR at Blue Mounds State Park, 20 miles (32 km) to the south. The visitor center features exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the site, including a display of the petroglyphs found around the quarry. There is also an orientation video about the history of the pipestone quarries.
Park entrance sign
Historic pipestone quarry
1872 Land plat of the Yankton Sioux Pipestone Reservation held by the National Park Service
Inlaid Pipe Bowl with Two Faces, collected at Fort Snelling 1833-36
Pipestone crafting demonstration at Pipestone National Monument
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