Pipestone National Monument

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Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument is located in Minnesota
Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument is located in the United States
Pipestone National Monument
LocationSweet Township, Pipestone County, Minnesota
Nearest cityPipestone, Minnesota
Coordinates44°0′48″N 96°19′30″W / 44.01333°N 96.32500°W / 44.01333; -96.32500Coordinates: 44°0′48″N 96°19′30″W / 44.01333°N 96.32500°W / 44.01333; -96.32500
Area281.78 acres (1.14 km²)
Visitation73,267 (2019)[2]
WebsitePipestone National Monument
MPSPipestone County MRA (AD)
NRHP reference No.66000112[1]
Significant dates
Designated HDOctober 15, 1966
Designated NMONAugust 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.[3] 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.[4]

By the 1700s, the Sioux were the dominant tribe in the area.[5] 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.[5] In 1891, the United States took a 100 acre parcel of the Yankton's Pipestone Reservation to build the Pipestone Indian School.[6] 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.[5] Afterwards, the land came under full control of the U.S. Government.[6] 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.[6] A boundary change occurred on June 18, 1956 with the original reservation reduced to just 108 acres.[7]

In 1863 conditions at the Crow Creek Reservation were so dire that Congress appropriated money to send supplies. The Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Superintendency, Clark W. Thompson, turned the aid into a corrupt scheme for himself, his brother and an associate. Instead of buying the provisions at the closest source and sending them by the quickest riverboat transport they were purchased in Mankato, Minnesota and sent overland. Substandard and outright spoilt foodstuffs were sent via a wagon train of 150 wagons that transited the quarry en-route to Fort Thompson and given the name "The Moscow Expedition" by a writer at the St. Paul Press for its departure so late in the year.[8]

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.[3] Any enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe may apply for a free quarry permit to dig for the pipestone.[9] The National Park Service regularly consults with representatives from 23 affiliated tribal nations to discuss land management practices, historic preservation, exhibit design, and other facets of the park's management.[10] The historic area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the heading "Cannomok'e—Pipestone National Monument". Cannomok'e means "pipestone quarry" in the Dakota language.[11] The pipestone quarries within the monument are also designated as a Minnesota State Historic Site.[12]

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.

  • The Smithsonian Museum has an extensive collection of 705 catlinite objects that it attributes to the Pipestone quarry, 585 of which are pipes. [13]
  • Catlinite Pipes East of the Rockies[14]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Annual Visitation Report by Years: 2009 to 2019". nps.gov. National Park Service. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Pipestone National Monument - People". National Park Service. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  4. ^ "Pipestone County Museum - History". Archived from the original on 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2006-07-01.
  5. ^ a b c "Pipestone: The Rock -- National Register of Historic Places Pipestone, Minnesota Travel Itinerary". NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service). April 16, 1928. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Pipestone Indian Reservation (U.S. National Park Service)". NPS.gov Homepage (U.S. National Park Service). August 29, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  7. ^ The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.
  8. ^ The “Moscow Expedition”: Exploitation of the Dakota and Ho-Chunk, Colin Mustful blog, March 2019 [1]
  9. ^ Pipestone, Mailing Address: 36 Reservation Ave; Us, MN 56164 Phone: 507 825-5464 x214 Contact. "Quarry Permits - Pipestone National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  10. ^ Pipestone, Mailing Address: 36 Reservation Ave; Us, MN 56164 Phone: 507 825-5464 x214 Contact. "Affiliated Tribal Nations - Pipestone National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  11. ^ Riggs, Stephen R. (1992). A Dakota-English Dictionary (in Dakota and English). Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0-87351-282-4.
  12. ^ "Minnesota Statute § 138.57, subd. 4". Minnesota Revisor of Statutes. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  13. ^ Catlinite Pipe, National Museum of the American Indian, 2021, National Mall, Fourth Street & Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20560 [2]
  14. ^ CATLINITE PIPES EAST OF THE ROCKIES: MIDDLE WOODLAND TO HISTORIC PERIOD, Peter A. Bostrom, June 30, 2009,LITHIC CASTING LAB, 577 Troy-O'Fallon Road, Troy, Illinois 62294 [3]

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