Article

Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape

This landscape profile represents the cultural landscape data available as documented by the NPS and interpreted at the park. This article is limited in scope and acknowledges that there are details and perspectives of associated groups that could not be included due to the nature and purpose of the narrative and the potential sensitivity of data.


Three maidens, large granite erratics near a leafless tree, covered in snow
Three Maidens

NPS / N. Barber (2019)

Introduction

Numerous American Indian tribes consider the Pipestone National Monument landscape sacred.[1] Twenty-three of these tribes have ongoing government-to-government consulting relationships with Pipestone National Monument. Per an 1858 treaty, the Ihanktonwan Nation (Yankton Sioux Tribe) have a particular and special relationship with Pipestone.[2]

The quarrying of catlinite, or pipestone, remains an important cultural tradition and is specified in the monument’s founding legislation. After extraction, the pipestone is carved into pipes for ceremonial use and smaller pieces are often carved into other objects. A ceremonial pipe appears in many tribal stories related to religion and ethics, along with other natural features of the landscape, such as the Three Maidens.[3][4] The spiritual guardians of the quarries dwell at these large granite erratics.[5]

A number of ceremonies continue to take place at Pipestone National Monument, including those of prayer and annual Sun Dances.[6] Due to its cultural significance and traditional use over several generations, the National Park Service (NPS) characterizes the landscape as ethnographic.[7]
An overhang supported by brick columns covers the entrance to a long, single-story building
Pipestone National Monument Visitor Center in 2012.

NPS

In addition to the landscape’s cultural affiliations, it also is important for its archeological resources and its association with the NPS Mission 66 program. The archeological resources correspond to a long history of tribal presence that the Monument seeks to preserve. The site’s development under the Mission 66 program was part of a larger initiative intended to expand and modernize the National Park System over ten years by its 50th anniversary in 1966.

Shortly before President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Pipestone National Monument in 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps – Indian Division (CCC- ID) began initial development and added a footbridge and dam to the site, among other features.[8] The development during the Mission 66 era brought construction of new vehicular and pedestrian circulation systems, parking lots, a residence, and Visitor Center. The Visitor Center embodied the typical Mission 66 design philosophy of simplicity, limited ornamentation, and natural colors.[9] While the Mission 66 features are historically significant today, some also feel these structures compromise the traditional landscape.
Pink Sioux Quartzite cliffs under a clear, blue sky with a paved trail running between the cliffs and the tallgrass prairie next to them
Quartzite Cliffs next to the tallgrass prairie.

NPS

Pipestone National Monument, located in the Couteau des Prairies (the Highland of the Prairie) in Minnesota, contains 301 acres on a glacial plateau.[10] The topography of the glacial plateau varies and includes granite glacial deposits, the largest being the Three Maidens, Sioux quartzite outcrops, and the layers of pipestone itself. The Three Maidens once rested on exposed bedrock containing ancient petroglyphs that frequently featured carvings of turtles and bears.[11] The extant petroglyphs are displayed at the Visitor Center. Distinctive Sioux quartzite landforms includes Leaping Rock/Old Stone Face and the Oracle. Pipestone Creek cascades over a Sioux quartzite escarpment to form the Winnewissa Falls. Several species of freshwater plants reside in riparian zones and wetlands.

The structures related to development under the Mission 66 program include the L-shaped one story Visitor Center, residences, and offices. The CCC-ID development includes two footbridges and the Lake Hiawatha dam. Other historically significant features related to the park development period include some monument roads, pathways, and signage, including the Nicollet historical marker.

Historic Use

Archeological evidence suggests limited pipe­­­stone quarrying occurred as early as 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.[12] People traveled great distances to the Great Plains to quarried pipestone for making pipes and other objects. Chief Standing Bear wrote that to the Lakota: “All the meanings of moral duty, ethics, religious and spiritual conceptions were symbolized in the pipe.”[13] Native American tribes perceived the quarry as neutral ground where all could obtain pipestone.
Joe Taylor leaning back against the wall of a quarry looking at the camera
Joe Taylor in the quarry, circa 1916.

NPS

After 1840, the United States negotiated treaties with Native American tribes to force the relinquishment of the Pipestone territory in exchange for land in the west and annuities. Several Dakota tribes left the area by 1851, however, the Ihanktonwan (one of the seven Council Fires of the Oceti Sakowin) held out for seven years.[14] They negotiated with the United States government to retain rights to the quarry, which was acknowledged in the Treaty with the Yankton Sioux, 1858. Along with the allocation of a 648-acre (one-square-mile) reservation at Pipestone, the United States government would take stewardship of the quarry.[15] Despite the terms of the treaty, European-American commercial operations and settlement occurred soon after. In 1865, James Boyd Hubbell and Alpheus F. Hawley began what would be the largest extraction of pipestone at the quarry.[16] Commercial quarrying continued in the 1880s after a homesteading patent was unlawfully issued for a section in the reservation containing the Three Maidens formation. The failure to retract the patent and stop commercial activity on the reservation invited more aggressive land seekers and threats to the Ihanktonwan (Yankton) attempting to quarry.

In 1884, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the earlier Circuit Court decision and upheld the promises contained in the treaty with the Yankton.[17] Initially the decision went unenforced and squatters remained on the reservation. Yankton agent, Major J.F. Kinney, received authorization to remove the squatters with assistance from the U.S. Army. In 1887, Major Kinney and a group of soldiers traveled to the reservation to convince the squatters to vacate.[18] They noticed a railway had been constructed across the reservation and had partially destroyed Winnewissa Falls. The Ihanktonwan (Yankton) decided to sell the right-of-way to the Railway Company and retain all reservation land.

Settlement continued in Pipestone County around the reservation in the late 19th century. During this time, community members proposed the construction of an Indian Boarding School to boost the economy. However, while the Ihanktonwan (Yankton) did not oppose the proposal itself, they objected to its placement on the reservation. Despite Ihanktonwan (Yankton) claim to the land title and right to quarry, Congress passed a law authorizing Pipestone Indian School’s establishment.[19] The school opened in 1893 and operated through 1953. Most of the school buildings were removed or destroyed in the decades after. The Ihanktonwan (Yankton) sought compensation for the unauthorized use of the land for forty years in the legal system. In 1926, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Ihanktonwan (Yankton) were entitled to compensation for damages, but that the U.S. government retained ownership.[20]
Black and white photo of wide, rushing waterfall with little smaller falls above it
Winnewissa Falls, before it was lowered to try and control flooding (date unknown).

NPS

In the 1930s, community members met to discuss the idea of creating a national park and formed the Pipestone National Park Association (later known as the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association).[21] Some Dakota tribes and the Consolidated Chippewa Tribes of Minnesota favored the idea, while the Ihanktonwan (Yankton) opposed it. Before its official designation as a national monument in 1937, the CCC - ID made improvements to the site.[22]

From 1933 to 1942, the CCC - ID planted trees and constructed a campground shelter, two footbridges, the Lake Hiawatha dam, and other small scale features.[23] In 1952, a Master Plan was developed for Pipestone National Monument under the Mission 66 program. The program provided funds for additional roads, parking lots, trails, residence, exhibits, utilities, and the Visitor Center. After Mission 66 work completed in December 1959, the Parkscape program followed to include the proposal for a cultural and teaching center. In 1972, the center opened as an addition to the Visitor Center with the mission to teach quarrying and pipemaking to a new generation of Native Americans. In addition, the involvement of the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association helped regulate the sale of pipestone crafts. Recently, a decision was made to stop selling pipes at the national monument following many years of dialogue and consultation.

Today, Pipestone National Monument continues to preserve Native Americans’ right to quarry and access the landscape and its resources for ceremonies. In 1991, the first Sun Dance ceremony was held and today two different groups each host each host an annual Sun Dance. The Visitor Center offers interpretive exhibits and demonstrations about the cultural and historic significance of the Monument
Quarrier and carver Travis Erickson at a quarry with a group of youth as he explains the process.
Quarrier and carver Travis Erickson talking about quarrying to a group of young people.

NPS

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Ethnographic Landscape
  • National Register Significance Level: National
  • National Register Significance Criteria: A, C, D
  • Period of Significance: 1600-1971
[1] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016.
[2] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 243
[3] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 19
[4] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 278
[5] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 13
[6] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 431
[7] CRIS: Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape Published Record (501118)
[8] CRIS: Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape Published Record (501118)
[9] CRIS: Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape Published Record (501118)
[10] CRIS: Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape Published Record (501118)
[11] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 121
[12] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 110
[13] “Land of the Spotted Eagle.” Land of the Spotted Eagle, by Luther Standing Bear, University of Nebraska Press, 2006, pp. 201
[14] CRIS: Pipestone National Monument Cultural Landscape Published Record (501118)
[15] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 1
[16] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 276
[17] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 281
[18] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 281
[19]Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 326
[20] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp.332
[21] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 333
[22] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 342
[23] Catton , Theodore, and Diane L Krahe. The Blood of the People: NPS Historic Resource Study . NPS, 2016. Pp. 342

Last updated: November 30, 2020