Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Pipestone











"When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything." -Black Elk
We left our campground at Blue Mound State Park and headed an hours drive north to visit Pipestone National Monument. As often happens, when we take the big guy with us, people stop to ask if they may pet him. The comments usually sound something like "wow, I've never seen a German Shepherd that big." Here Mrs T and Baron stand outside the Visitor Center at the monument. Of course, large dogs aren't allowed inside the museum/center, but Baron got to hike along the trail leading around the quarries. There we met an elderly man busy at work with the precious stone. He tells us about a summer festival, just concluded, where tribal members from all over the upper midwest participated.
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 soft red stone is found in a vein between layers of the harder red Sioux quartzite. Methods of quarrying have changed little since the process began. Quarrying is a laborious task involving weeks of work with hand tools. Today, only American Indians may continue this tradition here by permit.
A small creek passes through the quarry area. Later, on the trail, we come across an attendant falls.

Baron and I scrambled up the hill to the top of the falls.

























Here you can see the thin layer of reddish pipestone lying between the harder quartzite.













All in all it was a great day. We had a nice walk and some interesting history to boot.

10 comments:

  1. That looks like a fun day to me! And the history that goes with it is very interesting. Nice post!

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  2. Baron is a big boy. Or girl. I would say, over 100 lbs????

    Jane

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  3. Fascinating! I never knew about pipestone. I'll have to learn more about it. I love the pictures.

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  4. What a great place to visit!!

    We have friends that have (huge) German Shepherds... but they're not as well behaved as Baron.

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  5. I think it is wonderful that this tradition is being kept alive Ray. Too many things are lost now as the younger generations become more westernized and it is such a pity this happens.

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  6. Wow! That shot of the pipestone is just fantastic!

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  7. Wow. My first "best friend" was not another kid, but a large boned German Shepard belonging to good friends of the family - he was a yr younger than me so we really grew up together. Your's really reminds me of him. Here's a link to a photo of me as a preschooler w/ him - I believe I had just told him to "sit"
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zanshinart/2109025637/

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  8. My farmer neighbor has had several encounters with a animal that has characteristics of both a wolf and a coyote. We've been mystified by the details. Do you suppose in Minnesota a long way from Boston? Interesting Times article, I thought! :)

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  9. The speculation is that the interbreeding took place in your general region as coyotes moved east from the far western states, encountering and mixing with the growing northmidwestern wolf population, then continuing to move every eastward. So I wouldn't be surprised if there were hybrids in your area.

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  10. After reading about Pike's Peak, I recalled hearing about Pipestone near the headwaters--searched your blog and found this great entry, satisfied my curiosity. Your blog is a great resource about Minnesota natural history.

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