PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT, MINNESOTA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology

PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT, MINNESOTA  Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
Final Report
June 30, 2004
María Nieves Zedeño
Robert Christopher Basaldú
Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
Tucson, AZ 85721
Final Report
Prepared by
María Nieves Zedeño
Robert Christopher Basaldú
Prepared for
National Park Service
Midwest Region
Under Task Agreement 27 of Cooperative Agreement H8601010007
R.W. Stoffle and M. N. Zedeño, Principal Investigators
Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 86721
June 30, 2004
List of Figures ................................................................................................................................ iii
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ......................................................................................................... iv
CHAPTER ONE – STUDY OVERVIEW...................................................................................... 1
Geographic and Cultural Focus of the Research............................................................................. 1
Project Scope and Methodology ..................................................................................................... 2
Previous Research and Tiering...................................................................................................... 4
Legal Foundations for Cultural Affiliation ..................................................................................... 5
Determining Lineal Descent in Cultural Affiliation ..................................................................... 5
Theoretical and Practical Issues in Cultural Affiliation Research .................................................. 8
Object, People, and Place.............................................................................................................. 9
Temporal and Spatial Scales ....................................................................................................... 10
Land Use Practices and Cultural Affiliation ............................................................................... 10
INDIAN CULTURE, PAST AND PRESENT ............................................................................. 12
The Pipestone ................................................................................................................................ 15
Quarrying Rites ........................................................................................................................... 16
The Color Red ............................................................................................................................... 17
Tobacco and Smoke ...................................................................................................................... 18
The Calumet .................................................................................................................................. 20
USE HISTORY............................................................................................................................. 24
Early Prehistory in the Prairie Lakes Subarea............................................................................... 25
The Woodland Period ................................................................................................................... 28
Woodland at the Monument – Relevance for Cultural Affiliation ............................................. 31
The Plains Village Pattern Middle Missouri Tradition ................................................................. 32
The Plains Village Tradition at the Monument – Relevance for Cultural Affiliation ................ 35
The Coalescent Tradition .............................................................................................................. 36
Oneota Tradition ........................................................................................................................... 36
Oneota at the Monument – Relevance for Cultural Affiliation................................................... 38
The Early Historic Period (A.D. 1600-1800)................................................................................ 40
The Late Historic Period (A.D. 1800-Present).............................................................................. 40
Summary and Commentary........................................................................................................... 41
AFFILIATED GROUPS .............................................................................................................. 44
The Middle Missouri Tradition and Mandan Ethnogenesis......................................................... 44
Prehistoric Archaeology.............................................................................................................. 44
Physical Anthropology................................................................................................................ 45
Linguistics ................................................................................................................................... 45
Oral History................................................................................................................................. 46
Geography ................................................................................................................................... 47
Colonial Records......................................................................................................................... 49
American Records and Ethnography .......................................................................................... 50
Oneota and the Chiwere Sioux ..................................................................................................... 53
Linguistics ................................................................................................................................... 53
Physical Anthropology................................................................................................................ 54
Early Colonial Documents .......................................................................................................... 54
Post-Colonial Documents............................................................................................................ 58
Archaeology ................................................................................................................................ 58
Oral Tradition.............................................................................................................................. 60
Ethnography ................................................................................................................................ 63
Summary ..................................................................................................................................... 65
Oneota and the Dhegiha Sioux...................................................................................................... 66
Oral Tradition.............................................................................................................................. 66
Archaeology and Dhegiha Origins.............................................................................................. 70
Archaeological Signatures of Omaha-Ponca .............................................................................. 72
Physical Anthropology................................................................................................................ 74
Colonial Documents.................................................................................................................... 74
Ethnography ................................................................................................................................ 79
Summary ....................................................................................................................................... 82
Historical Sketch ........................................................................................................................... 83
Dakota (Santee)............................................................................................................................. 86
The Pipe in Dakota Culture......................................................................................................... 90
Yankton ......................................................................................................................................... 91
Yanktonai ...................................................................................................................................... 95
The Pipestone Quarry in Yankton History.................................................................................. 96
Lakota (Teton)............................................................................................................................... 99
The Pipe in Contemporary Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Culture ............................................... 102
INTERPRETATION .................................................................................................................. 105
Research Suggestions.................................................................................................................. 105
Suggestions for Interpretation ..................................................................................................... 106
REFERENCES CITED............................................................................................................... 107
List of Figures
Figure 2.1 Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota.................................................................. 13
Figure 2.2 Omaha White Buffalo Hide Disk Pipe Bowl and Oneota Catlinite
Tablet from the Blood Run Site, Iowa ........................................................................................ 14
Figure 3.1 Pipestone National Monument according to William Henry Holmes ........................ 26
Figure 3.2 Archaeological Sites Mentioned in this Chapter ......................................................... 27
Figure 4.1 Mandan Villages before A.D. 1550............................................................................. 48
Figure 4.2 Movements of the Ioway ............................................................................................. 56
Figure 4.3 Ioway Migration Map .................................................................................................. 62
Figure 4.4 Villages of the Ponca ................................................................................................... 69
Figure 4.5 Ancestral and Historic Omaha and other Tribal Villages............................................ 77
Figure 5.1 Heartland, Hinterland, and Expansion Territories of the Dakota Sioux...................... 84
The findings of the cultural affiliation and traditional association study for Pipestone National
Monument may be summarized as follows:
Prehistoric Affiliations
The earliest monument users date at least to the Middle Woodland period (200 B.C.-A.D.
700); these sporadic users, however, do not appear to have inhabited the monument for any
length of time. Ceramic materials, as well as a few confirmed findings of catlinite in the midcontinent, indicate that in this early time the monument was sporadically used by passerby
from both inside and outside the immediate region.
Postulated Affiliations with Ancestors of the Mandan
The first indication of relatively steady use of the monument, in the form of ceramic materials, is archaeologically known as “Great Oasis” or a transitional cultural manifestation that is
chronologically and culturally placed between the Late Woodland and the Initial Variant of
the Middle Missouri Tradition (A.D. 900-1150), arguably with some overlap. The significance of Great Oasis lies in the fact that it is a manifestation local to the Prairie Peninsula, extending to the eastern boundary of the Plains; thus it indicates that the monument was being
used by people who were living in its general vicinity.
The most abundant archaeological remains found at the monument are affiliated with an identifiable prehistoric group belonging the Initial Variant of the Middle Missouri Tradition (A.D.
1100-1250), namely, Mill Creek and Over foci. The relevance of this prehistoric group is its
postulated ancestral relationship to some Plains Village groups. At least one group of ancestors of the historic Mandan may descend from the Initial Variant; however, this proposition
cannot be supported solely from archaeological remains known to date. Studies of a very
small number of crania provide limited support for an ancestral Mandan affiliation.
The strongest support for this affiliation comes from origin and migration traditions of a
branch of the Mandan known as “Suthern Mandan.” These traditions relate a northwestward
migration up the Mississippi River and into the Missouri River drainage and mention specifically the existence of an ancestral Mandan village located in the immediate vicinity of the
Pipestone; there is at least one known candidate site at the location mentioned in the stories.
Likewise, these traditions explicitly mention the discovery and use of the red pipestone by
Good Furred Robe, as well as the taboos instituted by Lone Man. Instances of ritual use of the
Leaping Rock by the Mandan and authorship of nearby petroglyphs were recorded by George
Postulated Affiliations with Ancestors of the Iowa, Oto, Omaha, and Ponca
There is scant evidence at the monument, but abundant evidence in its immediate vicinity,
that around A.D. 1000 people carrying Oneota cultural traditions moved west, reaching the
monument around AD 1250, and becoming the primary quarry users and catlinite traders until
about AD 1700. Of the many variants of Oneota known in the American Midwest, two, in
particular, have been found at the monument: Orr and Blue Earth-Correctionville. It is well
established archaeologically that Orr is ancestral to the Ioway; less certain but highly likely is
the relationship between Blue Earth-Correctionville and Oto or Ioway. A nondescript variant
of Oneota ceramics (grit-tempered), found at the monument, at Blood Run, and tracked historically to the Big Village site in Nebraska, is ancestral to the Omaha-Ponca group before it
split into two separate polities.
Cartographic and documentary records of the early colonial or French period (1650-1700)
strongly suggest that the monument and its immediate vicinity were occupied by the Ioway,
Oto, and Omaha-Ponca. At that time the Ponca were still a clan of the Omaha Nation.
Migration traditions of the Ioway, Omaha, and Ponca recorded by early American explorers
explicitly mention the pipestone quarry and immediate vicinity as a locale where their ancestors lived during their migration. The Blood Run/Rock Island National Historic Landmark
contains archaeological remains of villages referred to in the migrations. The Ponca also have
a tradition that explains the making of the monument’s petroglyphs.
The Ioway, Oto, Ponca, and Omaha have a strong tradition of ritual catlinite pipe use and curation, recorded since early colonial times. This cultural foundation includes oral histories and
ceremonial behaviors that date back to their Creation times. Many of these traditions remain
alive today, and are being revitalized by contemporary tribal descendants.
Postulated Affiliations with historic Dakota and Lakota Sioux
It is possible that the westernmost bands of Dakota speakers ventured in the vicinity of the
quarry before A.D. 1700 and obtained catlinite. However, there is no archaeological evidence
of their presence at the monument. Nor is there evidence of the presence of any group other
than the ones mentioned above.
Around A.D. 1700, groups of Dakota Siouan groups began to migrate westward, pushed by
the advancing Ojibway, pressed by the need to hunt buffalo, and lured by the fur traders. The
Yankton, in particular, crossed the Minnesota River and progressively pushed the Ioway, Oto,
Ponca, and Omaha out of the upper Big Sioux River drainage and vicinity. These groups and
the Dakota speakers have oral traditions that describe this struggle and the eventual victory of
the Yankton over the other groups.
Sometime after A.D. 1700 (but no later than A.D. 1750) the Yankton Sioux took control of
the catlinite quarry and began to trade it to other groups, including the Ioway and the Mandan.
Historic records show that other Sioux bands had access to the quarry, e.g., the Sisseton, Santee, Mdewankanton, and Wahpeton, and various Lakota bands. Legal rights were eventually
given to the Sisseton, and thereafter to the Yankton.
Other Monument Users
Indian testimonies recorded by Catlin, Nicollet, Maximilian, and Long, among other writers
of nineteenth-century America, mention various groups as claiming past access to the quarry
or actually visiting the quarry. These include Ojibway, Sac, Fox, Cheyenne, and Arikara. All
these instances seem to be of historic date, except for the Arikara, who left material evidence
of their presence at the Blood Run/Rock Island National Historic Landmark and who may
have acquired a relationship with the pipestone quarry from the Omaha-Ponca in protohistoric
All other groups cited by Hughes (1995) as currently holding permits to use the quarry do not
have a demonstrated ancestral affiliation or historical connection with the monument but only
in a metaphorical way, as they partake in the ancient “smoking complex” of Native America
that continues to thrive today.
Postulated Cultural Affiliations at a Glance
Ethnic Group
S. Mandan
Lines of Evidence
L= limited; A= abundant; blank = absent
Oral History
This report presents an overview of archaeological, historical, and ethnographic information
relating to American Indian cultural affiliation and traditional association with Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota. The primary purpose of this overview is to provide the National
Park Service (NPS) with data that will aid in the development of consultation protocols and
future cultural and natural resource studies, interpretation, program objectives, and park management decisions. The present study, therefore, has been designed to establish a connection
between park resources and associated past and present peoples.
The data contained here are required to address the cultural affiliation and consultation requirements of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and
other legislation, policy, and regulations that address peoples traditionally associated with
park resources, including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA, Sections 106 and 110) as amended; the
American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA); Executive Orders 13007, 13083, and
13084; the National Register Bulletin 38; and NPS Policies and Guidelines, as amended.
Geographic and Cultural Focus of the Research
The main focus of the study is on the record of American Indian habitation and use of the
Pipestone National Monument. The monument’s main resource is an exposed vein of red argillite, known as “catlinite,” which prehistoric, historic, and contemporary Native Americans
have used to carve pipe bowls, tablets, and other objects. Associated with this quarry are also
other culturally significant resources (e.g., plants, animals, landforms, and human-made features) that may have been used independently or in conjunction with the quarrying of the
stone. Although no substantial evidence of habitation has been found inside the monument
per se, a rich archaeological record of human occupation spanning 10,000 years has been unearthed over the past century in the general region of the monument. Thus, the historical and
spatial range of human-land relations that may be relevant to establish cultural affiliation and
traditional association are broader than the monument and include the region known as the
“Prairie Lakes” or a subarea of the Prairie Peninsula that encompasses portions of southwest
Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota (Anfinson 1997). In some instances,
a regional perspective encompassing the southwest riverine archaeological region of Minesota
(Anfinson 1990), which includes the monument, may be relevant for our study. As will be
explained in the following chapters, cultural relationships of the prehistoric monument users
point to interaction with, and membership in, three archaeologically, culturally, and ethnically
distinct regional groups that have occupied the Prairie Lakes subarea at different periods of
time. Thus, this study reviews a broad range of information necessary to document to the extent feasible the complex cultural affiliations and traditional associations of Pipestone National Monument.
It must be noted at the outset that the very nature of the resource that attracted prehistoric and
historic users of the monument—the pipestone—has delimited the range of activities that
were likely conducted at or near the quarry, and thus the material record of its users is neither
abundant nor readily diagnostic of cultural or ethnic identity. Paradoxically, the vast majority
of confirmed evidence of the monument’s use and users has been found elsewhere, in places
as distant as Alabama and Oklahoma. Consequently, the historical trajectory of the groups
who once used the monument’s resources is not confined to southwest Minnesota, and it is
complex, unevenly represented in the archaeological record, and interrupted by war, disease,
and fierce competition for land and resources at critical points in time. All of these characteristics have shaped the nature of evidence for cultural affiliation and traditional association.
Compounding the difficulties in establishing affiliation between objects allegedly made from
the monument’s pipestone and individuals or groups is the fact that there are numerous
sources of red pipestone, claystone, or argillite that are visually identical to catlinite, and that
were exploited by prehistoric and historic Native Americans. These sources are found in
South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, and Arizona. John Sigstad (1973) and particularly James Gundersen (1993) have repeatedly cautioned against assuming that all red pipestone comes from the Monument’s quarry, without first conducting mineralogical or chemical
characterization of the objects in question. The pitfalls of such an assumption are clear:
whereas numerous Native American groups traditionally held the red pipestone sacred, only a
few of them actually had a history of cultural and physical attachment to this quarry. That the
pipestone from the monument’s quarry was the preferred raw material for pipe bowls and tablets has been established through analysis (e.g., Penman and Gundersen 1999). But it was not,
by any means, the only one used by stone carvers. It is also a well known fact that, at least in
historic times, the vast majority of red pipe users obtained pipestone through trade, either as a
raw material or as a finished product (Ewers 1954, 1968; Wood 1980).
This preamble brings us to the point where the differences between “cultural affiliation” and
“traditional association” must be made explicit, for the purposes of this report:
Cultural affiliation refers to the relationship between archaeological objects currently owned
by, or curated at, the monument and contemporary Native American individuals or groups.
These objects may potentially fall into one of five NAGPRA categories and thus could be eligible for repatriation if such an “object-people” relationship can be established. Below is a
textual rendition of the legal definition of cultural affiliation.
Traditional association, on the other hand, refers to the existence of a history of physical, cultural, and spiritual attachments between the monument and contemporary individuals or
groups. Individuals or groups that are found to have a traditional association with the monument may enter in future consultation regarding preservation, management, and interpretation
of the monument’s resources. This study has limited its scope to Native Americans; however,
there are numerous examples in the National Park Service system of non-Indian groups that
have traditional associations with park units.
Project Scope and Methodology
In 2002 the Midwest Region of the NPS contracted an ethnographic team at the Bureau of
Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA), University of Arizona, Tucson (UofA), to conduct a two-part study for Pipestone National Monument: The first part is a cultural affiliation/traditional association determination statement, and the second part is a survey of contemporary ethnobotanical resources to be incorporated in the Ethnographic Resource
Inventory (ERI). This study is administered under Task Agreement No. 27 of Cooperative
Agreement No. H8601010007 with Richard W. Stoffle and Maria N. Zedeño.
Because each portion of the study had very distinctive objectives, methodology, and data
presentation format, the principal investigators, in consultation with Key NPS Official Dr.
Michael J. Evans, decided to compile research results in two separate volumes. Draft Volume
One of the study presents the results of the cultural affiliation/traditional association research.
Specifically, the objectives of Draft Volume One are to provide:
Descriptions of any American Indian individuals or tribes who may be determined
to be culturally affiliated with Pipestone National Monument, including: (1) relationships determined between earlier archeologically-defined groups and contemporary Indian groups; (2) relationships determined between specific objects in
monument collections to contemporary Indian groups or individuals who may be
descendants; and (3) relationships determined between other park resources to
contemporary Indian groups.
A summary of the cultural history of each of the potentially affiliated groups, including descriptions of occupation and use, past and present, of the area in and
around the park by traditionally associated groups of people.
Suggestions for further studies on the park’s associated groups and identification
of new data needs.
A list of potential interpretive topics that may be gleaned from the research.
A “selectively annotated” bibliography of relevant published and unpublished
sources pertaining to traditionally associated groups, and a references section of
sources cited in the body of the report. [In preparation]
A list of names and addresses of tribal officials representing culturally affiliated/traditionally associated groups will be delivered as a separate document along
with the final version of Draft Volume One.
To accomplish these objectives, the UofA research team conducted extensive research of published and unpublished sources containing information on regional and park-specific archaeology, history, and ethnography. Archaeological literature was reviewed to reconstruct the use
history of the monument and to provide a frame of reference for identifying prehistoric and
historic groups whose remains are in the monument area. To fully construct this frame of reference a review of archaeological research in the surrounding regions was also conducted.
Historical literature was then reviewed to document the geopolitical, social, and legal dynamics of Indian-Colonial and Indian-United States relations as they affected the use of the monument and immediate surroundings. Ethnographic literature was reviewed to identify any oral
traditions, folklore, social organization, or material culture that could be useful for establishing cultural affiliation and traditional association. Linguistic, forensic, and geographic data
were also incorporated in the text when available or applicable. The Indian Claims Commission expert witness reports, published in 1974 by Garland Publishing, New York, were also
consulted for this purpose.
In addition to published monographs, edited books, journal articles, and conference proceedings, we examined technical research reports, unpublished theses and dissertations, and historical manuscript collections. Last, but not least, we greatly benefited from the invaluable
expert opinion of archaeologist Dale Henning and ethnohistorian Tom Thiessen, who generously exchanged ideas, references, and materials with the authors.
Previous Research and Tiering
Draft Volume One is the most recent of a series of research efforts sponsored by NPS to establish cultural affiliation and traditional association between the monument’s resources and
contemporary Native American individuals and groups. These research reports have contributed important pieces to the puzzle of who used and cared for the pipestone quarry in prehistoric and historic times, and which groups were historic pipe users.
Two ethnographic reports written by Hughes (1995) and Hughes and Stewart (1997), aimed at
documenting contemporary “perceptions of the sacred” at Pipestone National Monument.
These studies reviewed data on selected Native American groups who have a relationship
with the quarry and provided cultural perspectives that informs monument managers as to the
“culturally appropriate” ways to care for the quarry and to interact with lawful quarry users.
Data from of these reports are cited in Chapter Five.
In 1995 Nabokov conducted genealogical research to document reputed relationships between
23 historic pipes in the Edward Butts collection owned by the monument and contemporary
individuals, families, and tribes. These pipes were attributed to 20 possible individual owners
who originate from seven native groups: Lakota (11), Assiniboin (2), Cheyenne (2), Osage
(2), Arikara (1), Nez Perce (1), and Ponca (1). Many of the alleged owners were high profile
leaders of “cultural and historical importance” (Nabokov 1995:5). Navokov was largely successful at tracking individual histories; it is understood by the authors that some of these pipes
already underwent repatriation.
In 1998 Thiessen conducted ethnohistorical research to identify the ethnicity of the original
inhabitants of the Blood Run/Rock Island National Historic Landmark in northwest Iowa and
southeast South Dakota. These sites are in close proximity to the monument (35 miles or 20
km) and contain large numbers of unmodified and worked catlinite. The results of Thiessen’s
study, which identify several groups as the sites’ late prehistoric and protohistoric inhabitants,
constitute one cornerstone of this report.
Also in 1998, archaeologists Anfinson, Henning, and Johnson were commissioned by the
NPS to conduct independent analysis of the ceramics collections from earlier excavations at
the monument and to identify their archaeological affiliations. Their findings have been incorporated in cultural affiliation statements made in this report.
Two undated documents prepared by NPS officials have been of great value to the authors:
the first one, by Thiessen, is an extensive, selectively annotated bibliography of research,
journalistic references and other writings that mention Pipestone National Monument and its
resources. The second document, by Scott and Thiessen, is a draft history of archaeological
research at the monument. This document, in particular, helped to place in proper perspective
all the fragmentary information regarding the quarry that has been published to date.
In complement to these studies, the contribution of our Draft Volume One is twofold: first, it
integrates evidence of cultural affiliation by linking the archaeological remains from the
monument to known historical and contemporary groups; and second, it characterizes the nature of the historical relationships between Indian people and the monument, by distinguishing between groups who have a use history of the monument as a place, from those who have
a use history of the pipestone as a resource.
Legal Foundations for Cultural Affiliation
The concept “cultural affiliation” was given legal status on November 16, 1990, when the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) became law. NAGPRA
makes provisions for the return of human remains and specified items (including funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony) held in federally funded repositories
to lineal descendants and affiliated American Indian tribes, Alaska native villages and corporations, and Native Hawaiian organizations.
NAGPRA is triggered by the possession of human remains or specified items by a federally
funded repository or by the discovery and intentional removal of human remains or specified
items on federal or tribal lands. Under NAGPRA, human remains and specified items that
were in the possession of said repository prior to November 16, 1990, are to be repatriated,
upon request, to lineal descendants or culturally affiliated American Indians tribes, Alaska
native villages and corporations, or Native Hawaiian organizations. Provisions also exist for
the discovery and intentional removal of human remains and specified items after November
16, 1990 (25 USC 3002). NAGPRA defines the right of possession as:
…possession obtained with the voluntary consent of an individual or group
that had authority of alienation. The original acquisition of a Native American
unassociated funerary object, sacred object, or object of cultural patrimony
from an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization with the voluntary consent of an individual or group with authority to alienate such object is deemed
to give right of possession of that object. (25 USC 3001(13)).
Thus, NAGPRA provisions for determining right of possession will in many cases help delineate the options available to the collection holder and the native groups. The question of
right of possession (sometimes called “legal title”) will not be asked unless a native group
makes a repatriation request. To make such request, the native group must demonstrate a
“burden of proof” of cultural affiliation (Evans et al. 1994:15).
The Act requires formal consultation with lineal descendants and Indian tribes, Alaskan native
villages and corporations, and native Hawaiian organization officials in deciding the disposition of human remains or specified items. Consultation is required in the preparation of inventories of human remains and specified items in federally funded and federal agency repositories and in the event of the excavation or discovery such items on federal lands of tribal lands.
Executive Orders 13083 and 13084 re-estate and expand the requirement of government-togovernment consultation with tribal and native governments and organizations.
Determining Lineal Descent and Cultural Affiliation
In preparing this report we followed the stipulations provided by NAGPRA in regard to the
establishment of lineal decent and cultural affiliation of individuals and tribes. The regulations drafted by the U.S. Department of the Interior give the following definition of lineal descendants (Federal Register 1993:31129):
Lineal descendant means an individual tracing his or her ancestry directly and
without interruption by means of the traditional kinship system of the appropriate Indian tribe to a known Native American individual whose remains, funerary objects, or sacred objects are being claimed under these regulations (43
CFR Part 10 Section 10.14).
The lineal descendant standard requires that the human remains under NAGPRA consultation
be identified as individuals whose descendants can be traced directly and uninterruptedly, either by means of the traditional kinship system of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization or by the common law system of descent to a known Indian individual whose remains
and associated funerary objects are being considered for repatriation.
Cultural affiliation is defined as:
…a relationship of shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group (43 CFR Part 10(2)e Section
To establish cultural affiliation, the existence of an identifiable present-day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization with standing under these regulations must be determined. The
existence of an identifiable earlier group may be traced from: (1) distinctive patterns of material culture manufacture and spatial distribution; (2) cultural characteristics, such as mortuary
practices, that point to the particular identity of that group; (3) biological characteristics of the
population; or (4) any other type of evidence that is stipulated by the law, as cited below. The
relationship of shared group identity must be supported with evidence that reasonably demonstrates that a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization has been identified
from prehistoric or historic times as descending from the earlier group.
Lineal descent and cultural affiliation determinations are necessary steps before a museum or
federal agency can begin the required consultation. Such determinations are a key component
of NAGPRA, without which consultation is impossible. The 101st Congress Senate Report (2d
Session 101-473:9) provides the following guideline for determining lineal descent and cultural affiliation:
The types of evidence…may include, but are not limited to, geographical, kinship, biological, archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, oral tradition, or
historical evidence or other relevant information or expert opinion.
One of the major obstacles in determining lineal descent of human remains and associated
funerary items is the absence of specific information on biological or kinship continuity between contemporary American Indian people and prehistoric remains. In many cases these
remains are not found in the areas now occupied by the potentially affiliated tribes; remains
may be found in the possession of Indian people who came to areas previously inhabited by
unrelated ethnic groups, in reservations recently created by the U.S. government, or in federal
or state lands. The 101st Congress Senate Report (2d Session 101-473:9) also provides clear
guidelines for establishing cultural affiliation in such circumstances:
The committee intends that the ‘cultural affiliation’ of an Indian tribe to Native
American human remains or objects shall be established by a simple preponderance of the evidence. Claimants do not have to establish ‘cultural affiliation’ with scientific certainty…Where human remains and funerary objects are
concerned, the Committee is aware that it may be extremely difficult, unfair or
even impossible in many instances for claimants to show an absolute continuity from present day Indian tribes to older, prehistoric remains without some
reasonable gaps in the historic or prehistoric record. In such instances, a finding of cultural affiliation should be based upon an overall evaluation of the totality of the circumstances and evidence pertaining to the connection between
the claimant and the material being claimed and should not be precluded solely
because of gaps in the record.
In most circumstances a gap in one evidence type (e.g., archaeology) may be filled in with
another evidence type (e.g., oral history, geography). A cultural affiliation statement is thus a
complex interweaving of data of varying detail and specificity that altogether provides a reasonable, albeit not scientifically certain, consultation baseline for the collections manager.
Also, the existence of different kinds of tribal relations with the land where human remains
and specified items were originally collected create the need to build a case for cultural affiliation that is specific to a tribe and that includes a unique combination of evidence types. It
follows that complex land use histories of specific pieces of federal or tribal land, as for example the park under study, will result in complex cases for multiple cultural affiliation. The
law acknowledges that such historical complexity may result in multiple requests for repatriation of any item. NAGPRA provides the following stipulation for addressing competing
Where there are multiple requests for repatriation of any item and, after complying with the requirements of this Act, the federal agency of museum cannot
clearly determine which requesting party is the most appropriate claimant, the
agency of museum may retain such item until the requesting parties agree upon
its disposition or the dispute is otherwise resolved pursuant to the provisions of
this Act or by a court of competent jurisdiction (25 U.S.C. 3005 (7e) as
The ownership or control of specified items that are either collected from or inadvertently discovered at, federal or tribal lands after November 16, 1990, goes to (in order of priority):
Lineal descendants
Tribe on whose land the item was found
Tribe that is most closely affiliated with the item
Tribe that was recognized by the Indian Claims Commission as the aboriginal occupant of the land where the item was found. (25 U.S.C. 3002 Section 3a)
Thus, if lineal descent cannot be ascertained and in the case of unassociated funerary objects,
sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, then the tribe on whose land the items were
found will be considered for ownership/control of the items. Should that tribe not claim cultural affiliation then the Indian tribe having the closest cultural affiliation with such remains
or objects that upon notice states a claim for such remains or objects, will be considered. If
cultural affiliation cannot be reasonably ascertained, then the Indian tribe recognized by a final judgment of the Indian Claims Commission or the U.S. Claims Court as aboriginal occupying the area wherein the items were found is given ownership or control of such items.
Theoretical and Practical Issues in Cultural Affiliation Research
In a recent cultural affiliation study for four national monuments in Arizona, Toupal and Stoffle (2001:8) observed that NAGPRA’s definition of cultural affiliation and criteria for establishing cultural affiliation are based on a presumed relationship between social groups and
discrete constellations of cultural and biological traits that most anthropologists no longer accept because of its normative underlining. They cite a statement made by Old World prehistorian and migration scholar David Anthony to illustrate their point:
Like all other residents of academia, archaeologists follow intellectual trends.
According to the current trend, neatly defined, self-contained ethnic and linguistic groups are thought to exist only in the fantasies of nationalists and
chauvinists. The phrase “the Indo-Europeans” could be seen as implying a
timeless ethnic unity that perhaps never existed. Even worse, there is no necessary connection between material culture and language, between how people
speak and how they make houses or pots. How can archaeological evidence
ever be correlated with linguistic identity? (Anthony 2001:78)
As Anthony further observes, the academic community at large acknowledges the lack of coincidence among boundaries of polities, biological populations, speech communities (languages), material culture, and other culture traits. Prehistoric groups whose archaeological
records show evidence, for example, of having shared a ritual complex such as the Mississippian Southern Cult in the US Southeast (Waring and Holder 1945; Knight, Jr. 1986) or the
Kachina Cult in the US Southwest (Adams 1991), did not necessarily share ancestry, geography, or language. The currently accepted notion that modern Indian groups, such as the Hopi
of Arizona or the Tunica-Biloxi of Louisiana, are composites of people from different cultural
trajectories and geographies who since prehistoric times variously aggregated and split dates
back to the nineteenth century; this notion was later eclipsed by the powerful frameworks of
historical particularism, functionalism, and culture history, which favored the construction of
‘culture’ as a constellation of discrete traits rather than as a dynamic composite of cultural trajectories (Adams and Zedeño 1999:323).
More recently, and partly in response to interpretive issues raised in the context of consultation with modern Indian tribes and organizations, American anthropologists have revisited the
problem of ethnogenesis of prehistoric and historic groups (Ferguson 2002) and are willing to
piece together the fragmentary evidence needed to rebuild the difficult paths Indian groups
followed to the present day. NAGPRA has forced American anthropologists to face this problem, thus offering the opportunity for tremendous intellectual growth, as long as one is willing
to reconcile the apparent contradiction between the normative definition of cultural affiliation
and the requirement of a dynamic and flexible understanding of ethnogenesis. In reference to
Moore’s (2001) study of ethnogenetic patterns in native North America, Terrell (2001:31)
points out that,
Proponents of ethnogenetic models of human history and evolution argue that
human societies periodically reorganize themselves and that the resulting new
social formations are likely to have their “roots” or “origins” in several antecedent societies (which may be greatly dissimilar), not just in one. The resulting
patterns of diversity in biology, language, and culture can be said to be more
like a “tapestry” than a “family tree.”
Cultural affiliation studies must recognize the complex ‘tapestry’ of historical and cultural
trajectories and accept the very likely possibility that more than one present day group will be
affiliated with a particular past group, however one defines it, and that only certain segments
of the present group may be affiliated with a particular past group (or segment thereof). The
question that must be answered, in order to piece together such complex cultural trajectories
is, what became of the descendants of the past group (or segment thereof) whose remains,
objects, and resources are under consultation? The process followed to answer this crucial
question begins in prehistory and moves forward to present times, in order to capture as much
diversity and change as possible.
This thinking process contrasts with that followed by proponents of the more traditional direct
historical approach who, in attempting to answer the question, who were the ancestors of the
present day group? begin in the present and move back to the past (see Galloway 1986). Such
process emphasizes continuity and homogeneity over diversity and change.
Object, People, and Place
The execution of NAGPRA requires that consultation with culturally affiliated tribes be focused on specific collections in the hands of museums and federal agencies, and thus the
stipulations require only that connections be made between objects and culturally affiliated
present day groups. The narrowly defined requirement, on the one hand, eliminates the problem of lacking information on archaeological provenience and context, which plagues old museum collections. On the other hand, it presupposes an identifiable relationship between an
object’s form and the cultural practices and identity of a past group. This presupposition lends
an artificial intentionality to the manufacture of objects, and does not even begin to explain
the complex relationship between artifact use and discard and ceremonial or religious significance. It is our experience that numerous American Indian cultural practices, including artifact use and discard, produced sacred objects, funerary objects, and objects of cultural patrimony that do not exhibit any formal characteristic or attribute that one could readily use to
identify a religious of ceremonial function in a museum piece.
Across native North America one may find examples that illustrate widespread religious practices involving ordinary objects. For example, individual medicine bundles often contained
unmodified materials thought to have special powers, including pigments, crystals, fossils,
animal bones, or snake rattles; everyday objects, such as pots, grinding stones, and garments,
were ritually burned or destroyed in funerary rites; projectile points were ritually deposited as
offerings; plant and animal parts, such as seed fruits and tortoise shells, were used as ceremonial and funerary offerings. These are but few examples of artifacts that do not have any identifiable attribute that make them fit in a NAGPRA category except for the context or place
where they were discarded. Also, modes of discard of similar objects may have varied from
group to group. These examples highlight the importance of considering place and context in
discussions of cultural affiliation and NAGPRA consultation.
Temporal and Spatial Scales
Whereas the historic records generally provide very specific information on the identity of
Indian groups who occupied particular and often accurately mapped places or areas for a
specified amount of time, the prehistoric records are far less specific and thus need to be
framed in broad temporal and spatial scales. In situations where Indian groups vacated areas
before written records were available, alternative sources of information must be used, for example, oral traditions, linguistics and glottochronology, biology, and similarities in material
culture and land use patterns. Each of these information sources needs its own temporal and
spatial scales. Thus it is impractical and often futile, to attempt to establish contemporary cultural affiliation of prehistoric groups with the same degree of temporal and spatial specificity
as that of historic groups.
In many cases cultural affiliation of prehistoric groups may be determined only at the regional
scale or may refer to tentatively dated and centuries-long archaeological phases. This particular situation is common for archaeologically defined cultures identified in parks without a history of continuous occupation by any one historically known group: this is the case of Pipestone National Monument, whose spatially and culturally closest and richest record of
prehistoric use lies in the Prairie Lakes subarea of Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. The
scale is therefore regional rather than monument-specific, broadening even more in protohistoric and historic times to encompass groups whose identity, geographic origin, and locale of
habitation changed drastically due to war, disease, and forced relocation.
Land Use Practices and Cultural Affiliation
Prehistoric groups may have used broad areas for very specific tasks and during specific times
(e.g., stone quarrying; hunting; vision-questing) or may have occupied a single site or an area
for generations going back to the archaic period. Each type of land use, in turn, generates its
own kinds of cultural or traditional attachments to the land and its resources. Whenever federal lands contain evidence of long-term prehistoric occupation that does not directly tie to
historically documented users, as is the case of the Pipestone National Monument, multiple
types of land and resource use and diverse kinds of attachments will likely be identified for
each culturally affiliated Indian group.
In all instances it is important to point out that exclusive use or occupancy, as defined by the
Indian Claims Commission, is not a requirement for building a statement of cultural affiliation. On the contrary, cultural affiliation legislation acknowledges that more than one contemporary cultural group may be associated with a particular archaeological culture in a given
site, park or region.
The archaeological record at Pipestone National Monument suggests two distinctive and sequential land use traditions; one that used the place but not necessarily the quarry, followed
by one that focused on the quarry. It is difficult to determine the age of use of other associated
features except for the Leaping Rock and the nearby Winnewissa Falls, where some of the
earliest remains were found. The quarry was exploited since the Early Woodland period
(Boszhardt and Gundersen 2003). But intensive exploitation and trade can be pointed out with
some specificity, as it ties to the arrival of Oneota people into the subarea. Use patterns
changed again, documents tell us, when the Dakota Siouan speakers took control over the
quarry, and once more when the White settlers arrived to Pipestone, Minnesota. Today, numerous tribal groups consider themselves to be ritually associated to the Monument through
the religious use of the red pipe. In fact, the enabling legislation recognizes this relationship
by extending the right of quarrying to all Native Americans.
In sum, this Report attempts to reconcile normative concepts with dynamic social processes to
build an argument for cultural affiliation and traditional association. Given the complex history of Indian occupation of the monument and surrounding region, this report will examine
several potentially culturally affiliated Indian groups, including those who descend from the
Middle Missouri Tradition, those who descend from the Oneota Tradition, and those who
have a documented historical presence at the monument.
Draft Volume One begins with a brief overview of the Native American Smoking Complex to
contextualize the cultural significance ascribed to Pipestone National Monument as a place
and a resource. Chapter Three contains a narrative of American Indian use history from the
perspective of the archaeological remains found at the monument and immediate vicinity.
Chapter Four discusses evidence for prehistoric-historic ethnogenetic relationships for the
Mandan, Chiwere, and Dhegiha speakers, and summarizes the developmental history of each
group. Chapter five presents a synopsis of the trajectory of historic monument users, specifically the Dakota Siouan speakers. The chapter concludes with a brief reference to contemporary monument users and their claimed quarry rights.
Pipestone National Monument is located in Pipestone County, near the three-state border of
Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa (Figure 2.1). Before the arrival of Europeans, various indigenous groups lived in the vicinity of the present day monument. These, along with other
indigenous groups who did not live in the immediate vicinity of the monument visited the
quarry in order to obtain the red claystone or argillite, known as “red marble” to colonial explorers (Carver 1956), and formally named “catlinite” after nineteenth-century artist George
Catlin described and painted it. Since prehistoric times American Indians used Minnesota catlinite to manufacture pipe bowls and other objects (Figure 2.2). The monument takes its name
from this resource: the quarry and adjacent area became a national monument in 1937.
The monument is located on the eastern edge of the Coteau des Prairies, a gently rolling upland covered with a great variety of grasses and forbs. Elevations across this area range from
980 to 1640 feet (300-500 meters), from shallow depression to slope crest. Soils are mostly
deep, loamy, and silty with poor drainage on depressions. Before Euroamerican settlers introduced drastic changes to its natural landscape, the monument included some wetlands along
with tall grass prairies. Also before the arrival of Europeans, this area was under natural fireand-drought cycles that preserved its open grassland structure (see Volume II of this study for
a description of the monument’s landscape history). The monument lies on the outer, southwestern edge of the “Prairie Lake” subregion of the Northeastern Plains, which is characterized by inland lacustrine and riverine drainage systems that once fed both grasslands and wetlands (Anfinson 1997). The monument occupational history reflects this geographical
Lying between layers of exposed Sioux quartzite of upper Precambrian age, thin beds of catlinite form the core of this prized quarry. The catlinite is exposed in a number of localities
within the monument where it can be quarried; there are prehistoric, historic, and modern
quarry sites documented in archaeological research carried out in the monument (Beaubien
1957; Sigstad 1970). Other resources of cultural and ethnographic significance that are spatially and/or functionally associated with the quarry include: the Sioux Quartzite Cliffs, the
“Three Maidens” or large boulders near the southern boundary of the monument, the “Leaping Rock,” “the Oracle,” or a quartzite column, Winnewissa Falls, the “Old Stone Face”
above the Leaping Rock, and numerous other sites including a possible sweat lodge site, isolated petroglyphs, and contemporary Sun Dance and vision quest locales (Hughes and Stewart
1997; Sigstad 1970).
Each of these resources, in turn, has its unique relationship with the quarry itself and with the
act of quarrying, as indicated by archaeological data and by oral tradition. To illustrate, for
some indigenous groups, the Three Maidens, which once included numerous petroglyphs
(Thiessen and Bailey 2000), are the guardians of the pipestone quarries. Individuals wishing
to quarry the stone would ask permission from the guardians by placing offerings, usually of
tobacco. Leaping Rock is a stone column near the quartzite escarpment from which young
males would jump in order to prove their bravery. If successful, they would leave their arrow
or some other token to mark their jump from the ledge to the column and back again. Joseph
Nicollet mentions this feature in his 1838 expedition to the quarry (Bray and Bray 1976).
Other cultural and ethnographic resources that may be located within the park boundaries include such things as medicinal and ritual plants and animals that were once used in conjunction with the ritualized quarrying process (see Volume II of this study for a detailed list of
plant resources of traditional, historical, and contemporary significance for American Indians,
specifically speakers of Dakota Sioux dialects).
Figure 2.1 Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota (from Murray 1965:30)
Figure 2.2 Top: Omaha White Buffalo Hide Disk Pipe Bowl (Fletcher and La Flesche1911).
Bottom: Oneota engraved tablet from the Blood Run site, Iowa (Alex 2000)
In short, the monument’s pipestone quarry is a special and culturally unique place and resource. Even if a particular indigenous group may not been directly engaged in quarrying the
pipestone, it may have traded with other groups who did in order to obtain pipestone, either as
raw material or finished object. How can one account for traditional association to, or cultural
affiliation with, the pipestone quarry or its by-products among indigenous groups that lived
far from the quarry and that may not have had a history of pilgrimage to the quarry? In order
to answer these and other questions, one may begin by looking at the pipe bowl made of Minnesota catlinite and then placing it in a broader context that includes other objects and symbols associated with the pipe and its function in Indian culture and society. This chapter explores the significance of the quarry, the pipe, the calumet or decorated pipe stem, tobacco
and other associated substances smoked in the pipe, the color red, and some of the beliefs surrounding the origin, use, and symbolism of the pipe. It must be remembered, however, that
Minnesota catlinite was not only used to make pipe bowls, but also to manufacture polished
tablets often decorated with ancient religious symbols (Bray 1963; Henning and Hollinger
2003), whose specific significance escapes the contemporary anthropologist, but whose contextual associations may hold clues as to original uses and cultural affiliation.
The Pipestone
Several origin stories exist in several cultural groups for the existence of the pipestone. In
several of the stories there is an intimacy between the red stone and the flesh and blood of
human beings is central. According to Red Dawn (1982:111), the color of the pipestone “has
been regarded as the blood of the two-legged ones which was spilled in warfare with local
tribes.” Another account of the origin of the stone is found in Powers recounting the story of
the great flood, “Many tribes came to the prairie hills to escape from the rising waters. The
water continued to rise until it covered all the people. Their flesh and blood was turned into
the red pipestone.” Catlin ([1841] 1965, I:168-169) notes another origin for the red pipestone
where the Great Spirit eats buffalo while seated upon the quartzite cliffs near the quarry and
the unconsumed blood falls into the ground and becomes the pipestone. Skinner (1896:163)
and Winchell (1884) wrote that the Sioux believed that they were formed from the red stone
by the Great Spirit.
During his travels and visits to various Indian villages along the Missouri River and beyond,
Catlin ([1841] 1965 and 1973) recorded several legends about the origin of the pipestone, the
quarry and the pipe. He specified the source of some but not all of these stories. In one legend
that Catlin ascribes to “the Sioux who lived in the vicinity of the pipestone in some ancient
time,” the Great Spirit summoned all Indian nations who were at war to own this place. The
Great Spirit standing upon the cliff broke off a piece of the red rock, made a pipe and smoked
the pipe over all the gathered nations and in the four directions. The Great Spirit declared that
the stone was red, that the peoples’ flesh was red, that the stone was their flesh, and that the
pipe belonged to all of them and that the stone was to be used for the pipe of peace. Also the
pipe should be smoked whenever the people wished to propitiate the Great Spirit or to gain
the Great Spirit’s blessing. The Great Spirit also commanded that there would be no war in
that place. When the Great Spirit had finished smoking the pipe, the Great Spirit disappeared
into the last whiff of smoke. Simultaneously, two ovens opened up and two women were engulfed and swallowed into the great fire. They live there still and are the guardian spirits of
the place. Priest and medicine men can hear them and consult with them especially before taking stone (Catlin 1973, II:164, 169).
At the time of his writings Catlin was aware of the sanctity of the red pipestone quarry and its
surroundings, albeit ascribed to superstition by Catlin. He also confirmed Johathan Carver’s
(1965) early observation that, according to legends that he had been told of the place, that the
ground was neutral ground, belonging to no one tribe in particular. Moreover, all indigenous
groups were to not desecrate the place by lifting their weapons in hatred or war in this place
(Catlin 1973, II:167). Catlin also ascribes the peace of the pipestone area to the powerful superstitions that the Indians regarded in this place. This sanctity, neutrality and peace were instituted by the Great Spirit. Catlin also recorded a tradition about the origin of the pipestone
from a Cree man who he encountered on the upper Missouri River. A long time ago there was
a great flood that destroyed all the nations of the earth. Native people escaping the flood wa15
ters went to the Coteau du Prairie. But the water engulfed them even there converting their
flesh into the red pipestone. One young women caught the foot of the war eagle flying by and
was carried to safety on a nearby cliff. She became the mother of the new people of the earth.
The pipestone is the “flesh of their ancestors, [and] is smoked by them as the symbol of
peace” (Catlin 1973, II:168-169).
Yet another tradition that Catlin recorded from a Plains Sioux individual tells that the spilled
blood of buffalo eaten by the Great Spirit stained the stones red (Catlin 1973, II:168-169).
This same tradition has the Great Spirit at a later time mould human beings from the red stone
who became the progenitors of the species. Catlin mentioned that this legend is thoroughly
unknown to the upper Mississippi Sioux. At the time of his travels in the region, the Sioux
were in control of the pipestone area and were not allowing other groups to access the quarry.
Catlin was told by his Mandan and Sac friends that this situation was due to the influence of
the white man. Supposedly, non-Indians convinced the Sioux that they could secure financial
gain and status if they alone controlled the pipestone. The fact that the Sioux had spilled
blood over the quarry control issue had desecrated the site (Catlin 1973, II:170-171). The
Cheyenne and the Arikara, for their part, also have origin stories for the pipestone quarry
(e.g., Hyde 1968, cited in Thiessen 1998:9; Bowers 1950), and they were acquainted with
pipestone objects as they actively participated in the historic trade network across the Plains
(Jablow 1950; Wood 1980). More ethnic-specific stories about the origin of the pipestone are
referenced in other sections of this volume.
Quarrying Rites
Associated with quarrying of the stone are various ritual and ceremonial preparations that
each quarrier will observe following tribal custom or individual tradition. Of course, not all
ceremonial and recreational pipes of American Indian groups were made of Minnesota catlinite. Materials recorded as useful for making pipes include clay, wood, bone, antler, forged
iron, limestone, and claystone (argillite or steatite) of various colors such as black gray, green,
white, pink, red, and brown (King 1977). Furthermore, red pipestone also occurs in quarries
located in Wisconsin, Ohio, South Dakota, and Arizona, and is a common component of glacial till that surfaces in a broad area of the Plains, as far west as Kansas (Sigstad 1973). Although there is evidence that these sources were used prehistorically and historically, the
pipestone specifically from the monument’s quarry has especial significance and sanctity to
many American Indian groups. This sanctity comes from not only the use of the pipe in ritual
and ceremony but also from the very nature of the stone which, according to certain oral traditions, comes from the very flesh and blood of the ancestors, or from the buffalo, or even from
the creator him/herself. Other stories point out that native peoples were formed by creator
from this stone and that is the reason why “Indians are red” as Catlin sharply put it.
If a pipe is used ceremonially, it shares in the sanctity of the whole ceremony. A pipe need not
be made of red pipestone to be used in ceremony or to be sacred. But as noted above, to some
cultural groups the stone itself is sacred and therefore a good material to be used to make a
sacred pipe for ceremonial purposes. For many indigenous groups, the stone must be quarried
with some attention to ritual. The quarrier must be ceremonially cleansed prior to quarrying
the stone; this usually includes a ceremonial sweat. The quarrier should also leave offerings to
the guardian spirits residing under the Three Maidens. Such offerings are usually of tobacco
wrapped in small cloth bundles called tobacco ties. A common color used would be red, but
other colors are also used. What is quarried and taken away must not exceed the quarrier’s
needs. This last stipulation seems to have some flexibility to it, in light of the fact that not all
people who acquired catlinite raw material or pipes actually quarried the pipestone themselves. Also, the carver would need enough stone to make pipes for other people if those others cannot come to the quarry themselves. Now that Native American pipe carvers must apply
for permits with the park in order to quarry and carve the stone (Hughes and Stewart 1997),
they will take more stone than simply for their personal use. They must take away stone to
carve pipes for other people.
The Color Red
The color red signifies and symbolizes different cultural ideas in different societies and indigenous groups. Associations with the color red usually begin with the color of blood and by
extension the idea of life itself. Red can also symbolize war as it is the color of blood spilled.
In the classic case of the Cherokee for example, red can symbolize war as white can symbolize peace. Various European explorers of the United States and Canada territories noted that
Native American pipes and calumets had different color-associated meanings. For example, a
calumet adorned with white feathers brought peace whereas a calumet adorned with red signified war. Yet other groups, such as the Mandan, held a taboo against the color red because its
association with blood and, by extension, against the use of catlinite in ceremonial contexts
(Bowers 1950).
Most indigenous groups have a cosmology that orients itself between four or six directions,
the four cardinal directions and sometimes with above and below added. In a few cases the
center is also a direction. As a basic color, red may be applied to symbolize one of these directions. Not every group will place red in the same direction. Moreover, ideas and spirits will
be associated with each direction. The ideas and spirits associated with the direction of the red
color may also vary considerably depending on the culture. Red has also taken on significance
in pan-Indian movements in the United States. For example, the American Indian Movement
which was founded to further Native American political agendas uses the color red to symbolize all American Indians in political opposition to “White” America. The association of red
with war is not lost in this sometime militant movement.
Another association not lost on the red symbolism is that of the dawn. To Dakota groups the
color red is the color of the sun, dawn and the east. According to Powers (1974), red is the
Oglala Lakota color for north. As a counter example, the Zuni ascribe the color red to the
south. And the four major directions do not include red for the Navajo, who use white, turquoise, yellow and black. Brown (1989:7) explains that in Oglala world view, as interpreted
by Black Elk, the color red has myriad symbolic meanings. The “Red Road” is the northsouth road that represents the “straight and narrow way” the true path of life. Red as a directional color is the north and represents purity. South is the color yellow and represents the
source of life. The red road lies in contrast and balance to the blue or black road running east
and west on the directional symbol that symbolizes disease, death and imbalance. Powers
(1974) also points out that the Mother Earth is red, the true people are red. This author reiterated Catlin’s original observation that the Sioux in his day regarded the red pipestone and the
flesh of the people to be one and the same. By extension red is the color of flesh. Hall (1977)
suggests that this symbolism also extended to the red bark and leaves in the kinnikinnick.
In his Study of Siouan Cults Dorsey (1894:436, 438-439) points out that strips of red cloth
were common sacrificial offerings to deities and powers to implore their protection, favor or
assistance. Tobacco ties, small cloth pouches filled with tobacco are also special offerings to
deities or powers. A preferable color for these pouches is red. Also, the use of red or scarlet
paint is important in worship, red being the “religious color of sacrifice,” and among the sacrifices to the Unktehi, the subaquatic or subterranean powers, is the “soft down of the swan
reddened with vermillion.” In another section of this study Dorsey describes the Dakota veneration of stones and boulders. He ascribes to the Teton (Lakota) Yankton and Yanktonai, the
veneration of Tunkan or Inyan, or what Dorsey calls the Stone God. Most likely this is a particular principle that is symbolized or represented through stones and boulders, some being
consecrated long enough for a short ritual and others being used ritually repeatedly over a
long period of time. Citing Lynd, Dorsey (1894:447-448) says that the “devout Dakota paints
this Tunkan red, putting colored swan’s down upon it … Tunkan is painted red as a sign of
active worship.” And, citing Hovey, Dorsey also mentions a case of boulder worship among
the Mdewakanton Dakota. A large granite boulder called Eyah Shah which means “red stone”
and is the same word used to designate red pipestone (catlinite) that was not far from the
banks of the Mississippi river six miles below St. Paul was the central altar for ceremony
twice a year. It was painted red with vermillion or blood, adorned with flowers and feathers,
and the people would dance around the stone with chanting and prayer.
Other Native American groups also used red pigments for decorative and for ceremonial purposes. Red pigments such as vermillion and red ochre were sometimes used to decorate ritual
items, faces, and could be used as offerings. Vermillion (cinnabar or mercury sulfide) is a
sediment left behind at some springs as water evaporates. Red ochre is produced by crushing
hematite (iron oxide). Ojibwa people historically used red pigments to ceremonially paint
faces and bodies. Vermillion was used for ceremonial paint and a dye for charms. Vermillion
is used by the Midewiwin, the sacred medicine society. Crushed hematite has been found
sprinkled over burials during the Late Archaic and Early Woodlands period. Crushed iron ore
from hematite was used to paint bodies for ceremony and it was used on arrows (Zedeño et.
al. 2001:68-69).
In modern pan-Indian setting, many adherents of Native American Church use ceremonial
shawls that are red and dark blue, symbolizing night and day among other ideas. Also within
this religious group there exists the metaphor of the Good Red Road also known at the Peyote
Road, which can be interpreted as the good spiritual path upon which the believer lives a good
life with respect, fulfilling all of their responsibilities as a good person and a good relative and
friend to all of their relations. The use of red and dark blue shawls by Gourd Dancers at powwows also points to the night and day symbolism.
Tobacco and Smoke
One of the most sacred plants to many American Indian groups is tobacco (Nicotiana sp.).
Joseph Winter posits that tobacco may have been the earliest plant to be domesticated and cultivated in America. Even groups inhabiting regions where any of the species of tobacco cannot grow or groups that may not formally cultivate any species of tobacco may still use it for
religious and secular purposes. Groups that did not cultivate tobacco traded extensively for it.
Among various indigenous groups tobacco is a medicine, a spirit, a power, even a deity.
Moreover, there are other plants that are smoked in conjunction with tobacco or alone in
ceremonial, religious or social contexts. There are symbolic similarities between tobacco and
other smoked plants (Winter 2000). Springer (1981) refers to this tradition as the “smoking
complex” which encompasses four distinct but intricately related objects: tobacco, smoking
plant admixtures (e.g., kinnikinnick), pipe bowls, and stems, each of which, in turn, has its
own complex set of uses and associations.
There are both wild and domesticated varieties of Nicotiana. Some archaeobotanists think that
Nicotiana rustica was first cultivated in South America and then rather quickly spread to
many regions of North America. Winter estimates that N. rustica made it to eastern North
America by A.D. 160 and to the American Southwest by A.D. 720 (Winter 2000:4; Haberman
1984:271). Nicotiana tabacum is the other domesticated tobacco which is now used as commercial tobacco all over the world. N. tabacum was also most likely domesticated in South
America and moved to other places from there. Winter (2000:6) supposes that this tobacco
was cultivated in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus’s first voyage. Other important species of tobacco used among indigenous American groups are N. attenuata, N. quadrivalvis, N.
glauca, and N. trigonophylla. N. quadrivalvis has several varieties including bigelovii, wallacei, quadrivalvis, and multivalvis. Many other native species such as N. attenuata, and N.
quadrivalvis are wild tobaccos. The Dakota and Lakota, for example, cultivated tobacco before migrating to the prairies, in this case N. rustica, while they still resided in the Minnesota
woodlands (Winter 2000:20).
In the 1830s Maximilian of Wied observed that even some upper Missouri Indians who did
not cultivate foodstuffs maintained tobacco gardens (Thwaites 1906, XXII). Mary Adair
(2000:171) reports that tobacco of various species on the American plains was, “added to the
agricultural complex well before Euro-American contact. Early historical accounts indicate
that almost all plains groups either grew or traded for native tobacco, and no other plant figured so prominently in religious and secular ceremonies, rites of passage, economic and political alliances, or social events and relaxation.”
Furthermore, Winter observes “first and foremost among the herbs and drugs used by shamans, medicine men, and other healers is tobacco. Almost every native group in North America … uses or used tobacco as a tool to divine and treat illness” (Winter 2000:266). In this
particular contribution, Winter explores the use of tobacco in Native American religious complexes and identifies such categories of tobacco use as tobacco shamanism, medicine or healing societies that use tobacco in diagnosis and in curing some aliments, tobacco societies that
are organized to grow and venerate tobacco itself, tobacco priesthood in which the use of tobacco by religious adepts and officiates was essential, and priests who use tobacco as part of
their rituals and ceremonies. Many Native American groups will fall into one or more of these
categories over time. Moreover, some people within the group may fulfill more than one function for the group such as a priest who may also conduct shamanic rituals. Tobacco is sometimes blown over the patient by a ritual healer. Shamans have ingested tobacco in such large
quantities as to produce delirium and hallucination (Hoffman 1896:252). Tobacco may be
compounded with other substances to make poultices and salves for wounds. Tobacco has
also been decocted into medicines to be ingested in a liquid form.
Tobacco burning and smoke offering in rituals and curing among American Indians have been
recorded by observers and chroniclers of since first contact. Not all references to these activities involve necessarily tobacco. There are many plants and plant substances that have been
used for similar purposes. Tobacco is only one of the most important burning and smoking
plants, although depending on the cosmology of any particular people tobacco may be pre19
eminent. One famous example of mixtures of tobacco and other plants is “kinnikinnick” of the
Ojibwa and some other Algonquian groups. This additive was usually the bark of red osier
dogwood, Cornus stolonifera or Cornus sericea (King 1977:9). The Skiri Pawnee also mixed
tobacco with the inner bark of red dogwood. Other plants commonly used in smoking admixtures were the inner bark of various trees of the genus Juniperus, leaves of the smooth sumac
(Rhus glabra), and leaves of the bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) (Springer 1981:220).
Tobacco smoked in the sacred pipes of the Siouan speakers was used in all ceremonies. Black
Elk, recorded by Brown (1989) speaks of the importance of the pipe in the seven sacred rites
of the Oglala. In each of these ceremonies the pipe is offered to the sacred powers and beings
and to the ritual participants. Dorsey (1894) confirms the importance of tobacco for all Dakota
groups and the Assiniboin (Nakota). Tobacco is one of the most sacred of all plants and must
be used as an offering either as smoke or as plant. Tobacco is also placed upon the fire to
make incense. Tobacco can also be offered without being burned as in the case of sprinkled
tobacco or tobacco in a tobacco tie. Dorsey not only reports the use of tobacco as an offering
but also mentions that tobacco was sometimes used in conjunction with other offerings such
as red paint, eagle feathers, and red cloth (Dorsey 1894:448). Ceremonial tobacco smoking
and pipe filling among the Dhegiha Sioux speakers is described in detail by Fletcher and La
Flesche (1911).
Tobacco figures in parts of the origin myths of many New World cultures, not the least include the Maya and the Aztec, and the Iroquois. In some cultures, tobacco is a deity, a power
or is closely associated with a deity. For example, the Aztec earth goddess Cihuacoatl, which
literally means ‘snake woman’ and had a highly developed cultic priesthood, embodied herself on the earth in the form of tobacco (Winter 2000:268). Beyond that, Cihuacoatl was worshiped with tobacco and with human flesh and blood. As tobacco was her body and was sacrificed to other gods and spirit powers, so too were the bodies of humans sacrifices to feed her.
Cihuacoatl, as the Earth Goddess and as the mother of all plants would not “bear fruit of produce tobacco without human blood to irrigate her” (Winter 2000:299). Tobacco figures in origin myths of American Indians, who received it at Creation. The plant is associated with
many deities in different cultural groups. For example, among the Lakota tobacco is the tangible essence of Wholpe, the daughter of the Sun and the Moon” (Winter 2000:309). In Lakota religious practice, tobacco is associated with the four winds, Father Sky and Mother
Earth as an offering, especially when smoked in the pipe. And tobacco smoke from the pipe
carries the prayers and thoughts of the practitioner to the Great Mysterious, or Great Spirit
(Catlin 1973, I:169; Brown 1989). In other words, tobacco is sacred. Its use is sacred. Its
smoke is sacred.
The Calumet
The decorated pipe stem seen as the quintessential “Native American Pipe” is also referred to
as the calumet, a French word derived from the Latin calamus which means reed. European
explorers and colonists noted in many cases how reverently the calumet, also called “peace
pipe” was touched, used, cared for, presented and smoked. At times the word calumet was
used for the stem alone, other times it was used for the stem and pipe together. Also, the term
calumet was often used to designate the “pipe of peace”. “The Pipe” also was used to refer to
a pipe bowl with the calumet attached. For some native nations, the calumet, the pipe stem
seemed to carry more honor and respect than the pipe bowl. For other groups it was the pipestone that was more sacred, and still for others both were immanently sacred and powerful.
When reading different historical and ethnographic sources one must take care in identifying
what is being referred to as calumet, as many chronicles are rather ambiguous. One such instance is the equation of pipe and calumet with peace ceremonies, as both were used separately or together in different occasions including war and scalp dances (e.g., Fletcher and La
Flesche 1911).
As varied as the cultures that use tobacco or have used it historically are, so too are the pipes,
pipestems, their ornamentation and their use. Many of the chronicles of European explorers of
North America note the importance of the “peace pipe” and the calumet. Many descriptions of
the peace pipe speak of a long stem ornately decorated and handled reverently. The pipe stem
may be painted various colors. Various items were used as ornamentation such as porcupine
quill work some dyed some not, tufts of animal hair, sometimes from buffalo or horse, or
sometimes even human hair, feathers from such birds as the eagle, the duck, the woodpecker,
sometimes the whole skin of a bird or the head may be used for example the head of a mallard. The calumet itself has its own symbolic history, just as the pipe has its own symbolic
history. It is the combination of the two that makes such a potent symbol (Blair 1996, 1:182185, note 139; Hall 1977).
The earliest European observation of a “calumet ceremony,” presenting and smoking a pipe to
create welcome, confidence, and establish friendly interaction, was recorded in 1634 by Padre
Diego Romero among the Plains Apache. Romero participated in such a ceremony in 1660
according to Spanish Inquisition documents (Blakeslee 1981a:762). Other early European accounts of the calumet ceremony suggest that it originated from tribes of the Great Plains and
not from those of the Eastern Woodlands. Blakeslee (1981a:761, 76) concludes that the type
of pipe bowl used on calumet pipes appeared on the eastern Plains after A.D. 1270.
One of the most cited calumet ceremonies is that experienced by Nicolas Perrot (Blair 1996,
I), who described the extensive use and importance of the red pipestone calumet among the
Chiwere Sioux. Perrot, a French trader, lived in the Wisconsin wilderness and traveled extensively among the native groups from1685 to 1699 (Tailhan in Blair 1996, I:26). Perrot records
a tale of Sioux singing the calumet for an Ottawa Chief who had returned Sioux captives. Perrot speaks highly of the calumet and its powers. For instance the calumet confers honor, the
honored one becomes a “son of the tribe” and therefore becomes “naturalized”.
The calumet constrains and pledges those who have sung it to follow to war
the man in whose honor it has been sung… The calumet halts the warriors belonging to the tribe of those who have sung it, and arrests the vengeance which
they could lawfully take for their tribesmen who have been slain. The calumet
also compels the suspension of hostilities and secures the reception of deputies
from hostile tribes who undertake to visit those whose people have been recently slain by theirs. It is, in one word the calumet which has authority to confirm everything, and which renders solemn oaths binding. (Blair 1996, 1:185186)
Thus, the calumet pipe at that time, at times previous, and times historically, was important in
intertribal relationships. It operated as a flag of truce, a token of safe passage, and a guarantee
of safety. Smoking a proffered calumet was simultaneously a sign of welcome and receipt of
that welcome. To smoke the pipe meant that opposing or foreign parties could sit peaceably
without fear and negotiate their differences. European chronicles of exploration report that the
calumet would also be smoked before negotiations. That Europeans and Americans quickly
undertook this Indian tradition and used it to their advantage is lavishly illustrated in the ethnohistorical literature, from the Jesuit Relations to the journals of Lewis and Clark.
They also may talk about the respect that was accorded the pipe and the bearer of the pipe.
The ceremonies of the pipe vary in detail between different ethnic groups, but there is a very
widespread recognition of the use of the pipe in civic ceremonies, in establishing amicable
relations between various cultural groups. Calumets with or without pipe bowls were also
used in religious ceremonies in order to pray and also to establish amicable relations between
the human community and the communities of powers, spirits, and mysterious forces of the
world. Dorsey (1894:449) reports that in Siouan religions, the calumet pipe is offered to the
Great Spirit in the most important festivals.
Another important use of the calumet was in a ritual to adopt people from other tribes into the
tribe as a relative, no longer a stranger. Smoking the pipe between opposing groups would
render conflicts ended (DeMallie 2001a:726-727). This came from the sanctity of the pipe and
from the solemn occasion of smoking. DeMallie notes that in the late 1600s Hennepin described a calumet dance or calumet ceremony conducted during a ritual of adoption of Hennepin and two of his companions, by two chiefs who had lost sons in a recent battle and
wished to replace them. Thereafter, Hennepin was addressed by the proper kinship terms
(DeMallie 2001a:727).
Gary Clayton Anderson (1984) describes the pipe as essential in creating “fictive” kinship relationships in Dakota/Lakota groups. The Lakota holy man Black Elk described the Oglala
Lakota ceremony for “making relatives” which used the sacred pipe and is ostensibly one of
the seven sacred rites of the Lakota (Black Elk in Brown 1989). These so-called fictive affinities could allow the Dakota to treat the newcomer not as an unknown stranger, but as one of
the community thereby making any form of real relationship possible. For Anderson, these
relationships, whether permanent or temporary were central in establishing Sioux/European
and American social relationships including trade, political alliances, and potential marriage
relationships (see also Blaleslee 1975).
Pipe stems are decorated not merely to be beautiful but also to hold and carry power. For example, a pipe stem that has eagle feathers attached to it may hold much more power or medicine than a pipe stem that does not carry any feathers, depending of course upon the culture to
which the pipe stem belongs. For the Lakota, the spotted eagle is very important, representing
the Great Spirit and carrying prayers to the Great Spirit. Smoke too carries prayers upward, so
having a sacred ritual pipe stem with eagle feathers follows in the Lakota cultural logic. Add
to this the sanctity of tobacco and one will see the importance of the calumet and the rituals
involved in caring for and smoking the pipe. Usually the pipe bowl and the pipe stem will be
carried in the same bag or bundle. The pipe is usually assembled for use and disassembled
after use.
Pipes are also smoked recreationally. However, very important calumet pipes may only be
used on ceremonial occasions. Tribal or community pipes are usually kept by a keeper who
will care for the pipe on behalf of the community. The pipe keeper will then pass the pipe to a
new keeper when the appropriate time comes. For example, Arval Looking Horse is the current keeper of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe. The pipe does not belong to him, but it is his duty
to keep the pipe for the people. This will be further discussed below.
Joseph Epps Brown, when recording the thought and beliefs of Black Elk, speaks of how important the sacred pipe is to all of the Oglala Lakota’s rituals, seven in number (Brown 1989).
Smoking tobacco from the pipe invites the powers and mysteries to be present in the ceremony. The smoke carries prayers up to the Great Spirit and to various other spirits. Among
Lakota and Dakota peoples, sacred pipes are most generally made of catlinite. Black Elk explains the cultural logic of many of the symbols of the pipe and the ceremonies that require.
Tobacco offerings are ceremonially placed into the pipe for the Great Spirit, the four directions, for the two leggeds, the four leggeds, the winged ones, the plants, and the spirits, thus
ceremonially including the whole world. When the pipe is smoked, the world is symbolically
included, prayed for, and blessed.
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the archaeological record of Pipestone National
Monument to elucidate potential cultural affiliation of the prehistoric and historic users of the
monument from the remains they left behind. In this endeavor we have chosen to look not
only inside the monument but in its surroundings, in order to better understand the place of
the monument in the regional cultural history, and the connections between it and other types
of sites that were likely inhabited by the same groups of people who used the quarry or other
monument’s features and resources.
From the myriad overviews that exist about the pipestone quarry and its users (see overviews
by Davis 1934; Hughes 1995; Hughes and Stewart 1997; Kelley 1997; Montgomery 2002;
Scott and Thiessen n.d.; Woolworth [comp.] 1983) it is clear that in historic and modern times
the monument has had a unique role in the procurement of a raw material used in the manufacture of American Indian ritual objects such as tobacco pipes and tablets, as well as of objects of personal and social significance and trade value. These overviews tell how the quarry
itself was a place of reverence that figures in origin stories of various ethnic groups. The archaeological findings of objects made of red pipestone (suspected or confirmed catlinite) indicate that, since prehistoric times, the significance of these objects was acknowledged by
numerous American Indian groups and that the objects themselves circulated across the Midwest and beyond, from New York to New Mexico and from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
This wealth of information about the quarry and the distribution of catlinite objects across the
Midwest and Plains regions stands in stark contrast with the archaeological record uncovered
at the monument itself through systematic survey and excavation. The record reveals only
vaguely the cultural identity of the people whose historic descendants were known to have
used the quarry. So fragmentary is the record, that it led archaeologist John S. Sigstad (1970)
to propose the theory of “non-occupation” of the quarry site. This sparseness further contrasts
with the rich occupational history of surrounding sites (e.g., Pedersen, Big Sough, Arthur, and
Blood Run, among others), which contain evidence of occupation beginning in the Archaic
Period and spanning several centuries (see Anfinson 1997). Hence the significance of a regional approach in the elucidation of cultural affiliation of remains found at the monument.
Scott and Thiessen (n.d.) are currently finalizing a detailed report of the history of exploration
and archaeological research at the monument. Briefly, this source document begins by summarizing references to the pipestone quarry and by-products in seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury colonial documents, including maps, travelogues, and government reports, continuing
with a detailed examination of nineteenth-century exploratory accounts by individuals and
government agents. Special attention is given to period descriptions of the state of the quarry
and its features—the leaping rock, the Three Maidens, the petroglyph panels, the mounds,
trenches, and stone circles—, changes made to the human and natural landscapes, and descriptions of artifacts purportedly made of catlinite. The document also details all known extractive activity by Indians and non-Indians.
A large portion of Scott and Thiessen’s (n.d.) report is devoted to the rise of professional archaeological research at the Pipestone quarry after Philander Prescott’s 1831 (Prescott and
Parker [1899] 1966) and George Catlin’s ([1841] 1965) pioneering searches. Systematic archaeological and geological observations were made beginning in the 1870s with Newton H.
Winchell (1884; 1911), and continuing with Philetus W. Norris in 1882; Walter J. Hoffman in
1888; Theodore H. Lewis in 1889; William Henry Holmes in 1892 (Holmes 1919); Jacob
Vradenburgh Brower in 1905; Gordon Baldwin and Paul Beaubien in 1948-1949; and John
Sigstad in 1965-1966. Of these works, Holmes,’ Beaubien’s, and Sigstad’s are the most useful
for the purposes of this chapter, because they contain information about archaeological features and artifacts that may relate to the nature of aboriginal use of the monument.
Unfortunately, one of the problems with the monument’s archaeological record that has frustrated efforts of modern investigators to no avail is the lack of correspondence between
Holmes’ original map of a portion of the monument’s features (Holmes 1919:254; Figure
3.1), which included numerous mounds, stone or “tipi” rings, and trenches and embankments,
and the survey findings of Beaubien (1957) and Sigstad (1970). Also unfortunate is the degree
of disturbance of archaeological contexts that do contain diagnostic remains, as for example,
the Leaping Rock sites excavated by Beaubien. No absolute dating has been obtained so far,
so only relative dating through ceramic materials is available. More recent research, in particularly the ceramic analyses conducted independently by Scott Anfinson, Dale Henning,
Craig Johnson in 1998, have also been used extensively in this chapter, as are articles, books,
and technical reports containing information on the region’s archaeology. The sites most frequently mentioned in this chapter are in Figure 3.2.
Early Prehistory in the Prairie Lakes and Southwestern Riverine Subareas
The earliest cultural manifestation clearly represented in archaeological remains found in
Pipestone quarry National Monument dates to the late Middle Woodland period (A.D. 500)
(Anfinson 1997, 1998; Henning 1998a); projectile points found there suggest that this date
could be pushed back to the Archaic Period (Thiessen, personal communication, 2004). However, evidence of human occupation of the surrounding region dates as early as the terminal
Pleistocene, as Paleoindian Clovis fluted points (9500-9000 B.C.) have been found in Rock,
Nobles, Blue Earth, and Waseca counties, Minnesota. One possible Paleoindian point—a surface find— was recovered in Pipestone County (Higginbottom and Shane 1996). Similarly,
early-Holocene Paleoindian remains, including the Folsom (9000-8000 B.C.) and Plano complexes (Agate Basin, Dalton, Plain View, Hell Gap, Scottsbluff, and Browns Valley points,
8000-6000 B.C), have been found in southwest and south-central Minnesota, eastern South
Dakota, and northwest Iowa (Anfinson 1997:figure 6, 28-35). E. Henning (1983:4.7) notes
that these Paleoindian remains are not found in securely dated contexts, nor are there any associations with extinct species in known sites in the region exhibiting such remains. She observes that most, if not all, of the Paleoindian artifacts constitute surface findings, and the two
most important early excavated sites, Browns Valley, Minnesota and Cherokee Sewer, Iowa,
are more Archaic in overall content than are Paleoindian. A recent review of Cherokee Sewer
data indicates that the earliest human occupation dates to the early Archaic period (Alex
2000:63). Overall, both sites demonstrate a resilient hunting-gathering way of life that likely
began at the end of the Pleistocene and slowly evolved in the Prairie Lakes Subarea and generally in the Prairie Peninsula throughout the early Holocene.
Figure 3.1 Pipestone National Monument according to William Henry Holmes (1919)
Figure 3.2 Archaeological Sites Mentioned in this Chapter (from Anfinson 1997)
Despite the wealth of archaic remains uncovered throughout the Midwest and specifically in
the north woods, prairie, and plains, there is only one well dated early archaic site–Granite
Falls Bison Site–in the general vicinity of the monument and a few others in the surrounding
counties and neighboring states (Lewis and Heikes 1990, in Anfinson 1997:36).
Archaic assemblages in the region have few diagnostic artifacts (e.g., side-notched projectile
points and ground tools); thus they are difficult to pinpoint without absolute dates. Nevertheless, those assemblages already identified as archaic suggest that localized groups at that time
(6000-3000 B.C.) hunted bison extensively and took some advantage of the resource diversity
along the forest-prairie ecotone. Archaic sites, such as the Cherokee Sewer Site in northwest
Iowa and the Itasca Bison Site in central Minnesota (then a prairie), indicate use of a variety
of terrestrial and aquatic species and, in later times, the beginning of plant processing (as surmised from the presence of milling stones). Only one site in western Iowa, the Turin Site,
contains archaic burial treatments involving use of red ochre, and shell beads and a sidenotched projectile point interred with the dead.
Terminal Archaic contexts appear in sites within 40 miles of the monument—e.g., Pedersen
and Big Slough. These multi-component sites have radiocarbon dates and stratigraphic associations that point to a Mountain Lake Phase occupation (3000-200 B.C.). In general, during
this phase bison continued to be an important resource, particularly since herds expanded west
by the end of the altithermal or Prairie Period, but aquatic resources also became an important
source of food, as people settled on river valleys, lacustrine island and peninsula sites, and
utilized resources from well-watered upland and lowland locales (Anfinson 1997:38; Henning
1983:4.18). Cooler, moist conditions also contributed to a renewed expansion of the western
edge of the woodlands and with them an increase in forest-edge species. Diagnostic Late Archaic artifacts of the Mountain Lake Phase include ovate bifaces and lanceolate projectile
points, some of which may be, in turn, performs for stemmed points or side-notched points.
Copper elements dating to the archaic period are extremely rare and have arguable archaic
Late Archaic sites in southern Minnesota have provided the earliest consistent evidence of
ritual activity in the form of burial treatments in South Dakota and Minnesota sites, and
petroglyphs at the Jeffers Site near the Pipestone quarry. Burial treatments include red ocher
staining and interment pits lined with cobbles. At least one Late Archaic artifact, the Parkdale
Eared point, was recovered in the Runck Site, Minnesota (Anfinson 1997). Some of the petroglyphs at Jeffers that are considerered archaic depict atlalts, stemmed points, and “Old Copper” tanged points (Lothson 1976).
The Woodland Period
Little is known of the Archaic-Woodland transition in the Prairie Lakes, as this subarea lacks
a well-dated early Woodland horizon as does most of Minnesota except for the Laurel phase
in northern Minnesota (Stoltman 1973). Utilizing data from the M.A.D. sites in west-central
Iowa, Benn (1983:77) suggests that the Woodland cultures developed out of the local Archaic.
From findings of a thick-walled, cord-marked pottery vessel at the LaMoille site in southeastern Minnesota (Wilford 1954) and of some cordmarked sherds similar to the La Moille vessel
at the Arthur site in north-central Iowa, it is possible to generally suggest that the transition
took place along the forest-prairie ecotone (Hudak 1983:4.25). These early ceramics resemble
the better known Marion Thick ware and analogous types that characterize the early Woodland ceramic production in the upper Midwest (Griffin 1943, 1945). The lack of a clear earlymiddle-late Woodland sequence in the Prairie Lakes subarea has driven Anfinson (1982:93)
to suggest a two-phase sequence, initial and terminal (cf. Benn 1982:65).
The earliest Woodland ceramics in the Prairie Lakes subarea date to what would be the early
Middle Woodland in the upper Midwest generally and what Anfinson (1982) calls “Initial
Woodland.” The series and corresponding phase are known as Fox Lake (200 B.C.-A.D. 700,
Anfinson 1997:47) and it is unlike the LaMoille vessel or any other early Woodland types in
Minnesota. Its early type, Fox Lake Incised, however, resembles some early assemblages
from Illinois (e.g., Black Sand Incised), Iowa (e.g., Spring Hollow Incised), and Wisconsin
(e.g., Dane Incised) (Benn 1982:165). The bulk of Fox Lake ceramics have characteristic
cordmarked decorative designs that are diagnostic of the middle Woodland period in addition
to the persistent earlier designs. Overall, except for the ceramic industry the Fox Lake groups
were not appreciably different in adaptive strategies from earlier Woodland-Archaic transition
groups in the subarea (Shane 1982), and two radiocarbon dates available for the aceramic
(520 B.C. +/- 125) and ceramic (395 B.C. +/- 145 and 50 B.C. +/- 144) components from sites
in central and western Iowa support this assertion (Benn 1981:3). Fox Lake Incised over
Cordmarked ceramics have been reported from excavations at the Pedersen, Big Sough, and
Granite Falls sites in southwest Minnesota, the Fox Lake type site in southern Minnesota, the
Arthur site in northern Iowa, and the Oakwood Lakes, Winter, Waubay Lakes, and
Christiansen’s Point in South Dakota. Fox Lake materials are also known from amateur surface collections in the general subarea (Anfinson 1997:53-54; Benn 1982:168).
Other material culture associated with Fox Lake occupations include four projectile point
styles (stemmed, corner-notched, side-notched and triangular) specialized tools such as engravers and drills, non-projectile bifacial tools, and a variety of ground stone tools including
mauls, celts, hammer-stones, axes, grinding and nutting stones, and sharpeners. Most or all of
the stone tools from excavated sites are made with locally available chalcedony, chert, quartzite, and silicified sediment. Knife River Flint was used, and this, too, could be obtained from
the local till. Bone artifacts are rare but present at the larger excavated sites (Anfinson
It is important to note, for the purposes of this study, that the early-middle or initial Woodland
manifestations in the Prairie Peninsula and specifically in the Prairie Lakes are distinct from
those to the east and south. Hudak (1974:34, 1983:4.25) explains that such variability in the
Woodland period was correlated with the riverine vs prairie adaptations. The archaeological
record of the middle Woodland indicates that little or no contact took place between the riverine and prairie peoples of Minnesota at that time. Fox Lake, for instance, represents a longlived adaptation to the prairie with a decidedly Plains/west affiliation. This phase constituted a
“restricted environmental and cultural adaptation, with little evidence of any interaction with
the diffusing Havana influence.” Hudak observes that people living in the prairie grasslands
had a distinctly different exploitive pattern than those living in the forested river valleys to the
east and northeast, and that the isolation of the former from major waterways would explain
the lack of east-west interaction. The regional differentiation is particularly evident in the influence of Hopewell’s Havana culture upon the riverine people of southeast Minnesota but not
upon the occupants of the prairie lakes subarea. In fact, very little middle Woodland materials
coming from the south, e.g., shell-tempered pottery, have been collected in the prairie lakes
subarea, and are known from the Fox Lake site (Wilford 1946, cited in Anfinson 1997).
Another element lacking in the Fox Lake phase, yet another indicator of isolation from riverine Woodland people, is the widespread use of burial mounds, at least in the early centuries. A
good candidate site for early use of such features is Alton Anderson in southwestern Minnesota. Although no ceramics or radiocarbon dates were recovered from the burial mounds at
this site, the lithic assemblage denotes a Fox Lake affiliation. Shell artifacts, which are absent
at habitation sites, were present in the burials at Alton Anderson. Afinson (1997:79) notes that
the persistent Fox Lake people added few innovations to the earlier subsistence strategies,
namely, the exploitation of forest edge species such as deer and of canines (dog/wolf). Carbonized plant remains recovered at the Oakwood Lakes site include maize fragments and
seeds of Chenopodium and other plants. In general, floral subsistence elements remained rare
or nonexistent at excavated Fox Lake sites, but this gap could be attributed to poor preservation in most environments. No dwellings dating to this period have been found except for a
conical-shaped dwelling with multiple support posts, hide or bark covering, and daub foundation that was excavated by Gregg (1990) in eastern North Dakota.
The Late or Terminal Woodland in the general region is recognized from its improved thinner-wall ceramics and projectile points of a size appropriate for use with a bow and arrow.
Horticulture was practiced as secondary to hunting and gathering, and burial mounds became
more common than in earlier periods (Johnson 2001:170). From the M.A.D. sites in westcentral Iowa it is known that in the early portion of the Terminal Woodland some reorganization occurred, in the form of increase in length of site occupation and adoption of storage facilities (Benn 1983:80). In the Prairie Lakes subarea, the Terminal Woodland period dates to
A.D. 700-1200 and it is archaeologically recognized by two main ceramic diagnostics: Arthur
Cord Roughened (Benn 1982:172) and Lake Benton series (Anfinson 1979), after which the
Lake Benton phase is named. Hudak (1983:4.36) notes that Lake Benton series have general
similarities to central Minnesota ceramics including the St. Croix-Onamia series (Bleed
1969:26) as well as those found as far west as Nebraska, with few loci-specific variations
(Hudak 1983:4.40); the subarea’s materials are tempered with crushed rock and decorated
with single-twisted cord impressions. Excavated sites containing Lake Benton ceramics extend across the subarea, with a concentration in Minnesota. Some of the best materials for defining the phase are found in the Arthur, Pedersen, and Big Slough sites.
Lake Benton phase lithics are characterized by a decrease in the number of unnotched triangular and stemmed points concomitantly with a general increase in the number of projectile
points (Avonlea-like notched and concave bases) relative to the number of non-projectile bifacial tools. This, thinks Anfinson (1997:81), could be an indicator of reliance in the bow and
arrow, a technique that causes high losses of projectile points during hunting and thus requires
frequent replacement; alternatively, it would indicate a higher reliance on hunting than on netting, trapping, or fishing. The raw materials used remain the same as in earlier times: silicified
sandstone, quartzite, and Knife River flint, all locally available from the glacial till.
Subsistence is very poorly represented in excavated Lake Benton phase contexts, and it does
not contain evidence of horticulture; it is highly likely that the Terminal Woodland people
who inhabited the Prairie Lakes subarea did make extensive use of plants, but these have not
been preserved in the archaeological record. Faunal remains do not indicate any change in the
exploitation of terrestrial and aquatic resources from the earlier period (Anfinson 1997:83).
As for evidence of settlement preference and housing, trends toward settling on lake shores
and islands or where significant patches of woodland stood seemingly continued from the Fox
Lake phase. However, there are two sites, Gautefald and Hartford Beach, with no Fox Lake
antecedent that nonetheless have Lake Benton underlying Plains Village materials. Hartford
Beach, in particular, is interesting in that it has a Plains Village fortification ditch as well (Anfinson 1997:84).
About 23 excavated sites in the subarea contain Terminal Woodland mounds, 32 mounds in
total, and all of them are associated with burials. Mound groups contain an average four
mounds; most are located along lake shores and are rarely associated with a habitation site.
Burial treatments are uncomplicated and usually entail multiple secondary interments of
males and females of all ages in shallow pits. Occasionally present are red ochre, offerings of
shell ornaments, cobble lining, and hearths. Radiocarbon dates obtained from various sites
and materials in the Prairie Lakes subarea fall within the range of A.D. 700-1200 (Anfinson
Woodland at the Monument – Relevance for Cultural Affiliation
The archaeological materials representing the earliest human use of the monument were recovered through excavations conducted in the 1940s by Beaubien (1957) and in the 1960s by
Sigstad (1970, 1973). Beaubien conducted systematic excavations at three locations near the
quarry pits and at four other locations within the monument. He recovered approximately 30
ceramic fragments at a location near the southern portion of the Circle Trail and directly east
of the visitor center. Over 350 fragments were recovered from sites near the Leaping Rock.
Overall, Beaubien’s investigations produced the first and largest pottery collection recovered
in any systematic excavation. Ceramic materials dating to the Woodland period are rather
sparse and their chronological placement is based on very general stylistic and technological
characteristics (Henning 1998a:3). The collection was expanded with materials recovered by
Sigstad in 1965 and 1966. Sigstad identified 22 sites within the monument and excavated a
number of them. Unfortunately, he did not encounter very rich archaeological deposits that
would have led him to define the prehistoric occupation of the quarry and surroundings in
great detail. Yet, his study remains the most far-reaching and his tentative conclusions have
served as the basis for reconstructing the monument’s culture history until very recently.
In 1998 NPS commissioned three archaeologists–Dale Henning, Scott Anfinson, and Craig
Johnson–to conduct a reanalysis of the ceramic collections with the purpose of refining and
updating the chronological placement of these materials and identifying their cultural affiliation. The three archaeologists confirmed the presence of Fox Lake and Lake Benton ceramics,
and other contemporaneous but distant Prairie/Plains wares, at the monument. Overall, this
assemblage, along with current knowledge about the archaeology of the monument and the
surrounding region, strongly suggests that the earliest quarriers of catlinite were local groups
as well as distant groups with a decidedly Woodland cultural tradition, as indicated by their
subsistence strategies, settlement pattern, and material culture. It must be noted that neither
Beaubien nor Sigstad actually found substantial evidence of habitation dating to the Woodland period; thus, the materials they recovered may only indicate logistical or other nonresidential use of the monument by neighboring people. Sigstad (1970:28) further noted that,
since most of the ceramics recovered by Beaubien in 1949 were water-worn and seemed redeposited from some point east of the monument but west of Buffalo Ridge, it was not possible to characterize the nature and function of the original deposits containing these cultural
materials. The 1998 ceramic analysis, on the other hand, indicated that bioturbation, rather
than water action, may have been the cause of the mixing of these materials (Thiessen, personal communication, 2004).
The identification in 1998 of rocker-stamped body sherds as representative of Kansas City
Hopewell or other Hopewell complexes is significant in that it confirms the use of the pipestone quarry by nonlocal Middle Woodland people, or of catlinite exploitation (from the
quarry or till) and trade by the local groups. Johnson (1998a:18) observes that, although no
catlinite remains have been found in Kansas City Hopewell sites, the presence of catlinite in
eastern Woodland Adena and Hopewell sites in Ohio and Indiana suggests that the quarry
may have been exploited as early as 500 B.C. Unfortunately, one identified association between Initial Woodland ceramics and catlinite objects at the monument itself appears coincidental and may be due to disturbance of depositional contexts. Henning (1998a) for his part,
notes that the closest Hopewell-Havana materials are found in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa, and that these may be the source of the rocker-stamped pottery.
Sigstad’s analysis of catlinite samples from known quarries in Minnesota and elsewhere led
him to assert that eight early Burial Mound period artifacts from Ohio sites, one Ohio Adena,
six Ohio Hopewell, and one North Dakota Plains Woodland were all from the monument
quarries (Sigstad 1973:44). Sigstad’s methodology has been reassessed recently (e.g. Glascock 1997; Weymouth 1997) and thus the results of his analysis must be used with caution, if
at all. Boszhardt and Gundersen (2003; also Emerson and Hughes 2001) performed X-ray diffraction analysis on several Middle Woodland period red tube pipes and several platform
pipes from Wisconsin, and demonstrated that these artifacts were made from catlinite. Middle
Woodland period catlinite (or argillite) artifacts from Hopewell contexts also suggest that
these people had a definite interest in this material. Boszhardt (1998) reported findings of catlinite and Northern Plains raw materials in a Trampeleau-La Crosse locality in Wisconsin.
Taken together, the ceramic and catlinite findings suggest that the Woodland people of the
Prairie Lakes region who lived near the monument may have had at least some marginal
knowledge of, or contact with, riverine Woodland people to the east and that this contact may
have been directly related to the beginning of catlinite use in prehistoric times, at least within
the Hopewell Interaction Sphere.
The Plains Village Pattern - Middle Missouri Tradition
In addition to climatic changes that were advantageous for hunting and farming in the eastern
periphery of the Plains, a few important changes in the organization of Terminal Woodland
groups in the Prairie Peninsula, Prairie Lakes subarea, and Southwestern Riverine region specifically may have marked the transition to the Plains Village pattern, also known archaeologically as the “Middle Missouri Tradition.” (Lehmer 1971; Henning 1970, 1983). The Middle Missouri Tradition extended across southern Minnesota, northwest Iowa, parts of east
South Dakota, south-central North Dakota, and eastern Nebraska. Plains Village way of life
was characterized by the onset of sedentary or semi-sedentary maize horticultural societies
organized as tribal groups, each with more or less distinctive territorial and material culture
markers, but all sharing a mixed subsistence economy where food production was, for the
most part, as important as hunting, and a strong integrating cultural relationship (Henning
1983:4.43-4.46; Gibbon 1994).
Of the three temporal variants of the Middle Missouri Tradition, the Initial variant is the most
relevant for this study, as it constitutes the tradition’s southernmost manifestation. Henning
(1967, 1970, 1996), along with other Plains archaeologists (e.g., Anderson 1969; Tiffany
1981, 1983, 2001) have long disputed the traditional interpretation, advanced by Griffin
(1946:89) and by Wilford (1955), of the Initial Middle Missouri Tradition as an outgrowth of
“Old Village” Mississippian cultures from the east, as a result of westward population migration or strong acculturation. Instead, Henning (1970) and Tiffany (1981:67-69) proposed that,
at least initially, the Middle Missouri Tradition developed out of antecedent local cultures and
that this development in fact occurred earlier––about A.D. 900—than the emergence of the
Mississippian system to the east (e.g., Aztalan, Wisconsin).
Benn (1983:83) observes that the seeds of this local development may be found in the “late
Late” Woodland period, where larger populations underwent territorial reorganization, decreasing their mobility pattern and thus increasing their need to produce and store foodstuffs.
He further suggests that localized Initial Middle Missouri groups, archaeologically represented by materials such as Great Oasis (arguably antecedent), Mill Creek, Over, Cambria,
Monroe, and Anderson, may have been relatively isolated from the greater developments of
the eastern cultures. Nonetheless, these groups maintained ties to one another in order to procure exchange items, share territories, collaborate on hunts, and access bison herds. Exchange
of marriage partners could be added to Benn’s list of vital intercommunity ties among the
prairie peninsula groups.
The highly debated geographic manifestation of the Initial variant, Great Oasis (A.D. 9501100), deserves detailed attention because of its presence at the monument. Great Oasis is an
outgrowth of the Terminal Woodland in the Prairie Peninsula, spreading northwest from central Iowa to southeast South Dakota. It also incorporates the basic developments of the Plains
Village pattern (Henning 1983; 1996). The type site for Great Oasis manifestation is the Low
Village (21MU2) (Wilford 1945, in Anfinson 1997); other Great Oasis sites in Minnesota are
the Big Slough (21MU1) a site near Pedersen, and the Leaping Rock 2 in the monument. In
South Dakota there are at least four known sites. Burial sites, including Gypsum Quarry (Anfinson 1997:93), Decamp, and West Des Moines (Alex and Tiffany 2001), are located in
Iowa, where more than 100 sites containing Great Oasis ceramics have been reported (Alex
One of the limiting factors in our understanding of the Great Oasis manifestation has been the
dearth of non-ceramic studies, and the mixing of multicomponent stratified sites (Gibbon
1993). Non-ceramic assemblages dating to this variant include a large variety of bone and
shell artifacts (some made with Anculosa sp. clam shell), including bison scapulae hoes, fishhooks, and ornaments, as well as lithic materials associated with bow and arrow hunting and
hide processing (Anfinson 1997). Architectural features are characterized by semisubterranean houses with wattle and daub upper structures, and burial mounds with primary
inhumations, secondary bundles, and pottery offerings. While Great Oasis ceramics are found
as far as Illinois and Nebraska, little is known of its settlement pattern and village organization.
Partly because of its material culture and settlement pattern similarities with Woodland complexes and also because of the lack of fortified villages, Great Oasis was originally seen as
ancestral to the other Initial variants except for Cambria, with some temporal overlap (Henning 1981:36). Yet, more recently Henning (1996a) has argued that, at least in Iowa, people
carrying Great Oasis and the Initial Variant Mill Creek traditions were not only contemporaneous but also shared a single village. Based on recently restudied data from central Iowa and
on a reassessment of available dates, Alex and Tiffany (2001, also citing Lensink 1999) have
retracted from their earlier contention (Alex 1981; Tiffany 1983) that Great Oasis is the earliest manifestation of the Initial Middle Missouri Variant and now support an antecedent and
developmental relationship. This issue remains to be settled.
Mill Creek is the best represented phase Initial Variant manifestation in and to the south of the
pipestone quarry, on the Big and Little Sioux River drainages of northwest Iowa. The Mill
Creek sites are typically deeply stratified (as opposed to Great Oasis or Cambria sites) and
span about 150 years (A.D. 1100-1250; Lensink 1999 cited in Alex 2000:154). Mill Creek
sites are formed by multiple layers of village refuse (e.g., Kimball, Broken Kettle) with abundant storage facilities. Later villages show heavy fortification by ditches and stockades (Henning 1983:4-55). The economic pattern of Mill Creek groups continued to emphasize big and
small game hunting, with corn horticulture. The deeply stratified sites indicate that, through
time, this emphasis fluctuated as some species became more or less available than others, and
as the woodland edge moved to the east. There is limited information on other aspects of Mill
Creek life, such as ritual and burial practices. The nonceramic material culture includes numerous objects characteristic of the Plains Village tradition, e.g., bone tools and polished
stone artifacts, in addition to ceramics and chipped stone. Exotic materials, probably obtained
through trade, include shells and shell beads from the south and east (Henning 1983:4-54).
In south-central South Dakota, the Over, Anderson, and Monroe foci, collectively known as
“Chamberlain Aspect” (Hurt 1953; Wood 1967), are likewise rich in archaeological remains
of early village adaptations resembling Mill Creek, with open and fortified sites containing
rectangular dwellings. Wood (1967), Spaulding (1956), and Hurt (1953) originally thought
that this aspect was a composite, or a derivation of Woodland and Mississippian complexes,
and certainly included elements found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Whereas Mississippian influence in some of the material culture, particularly pottery, is obvious in some
Chamberlain Aspect types (e.g., S-shaped seed jars), more recent researchers do not see the
Initial Middle Missouri variant as a derivation from riverine cultures but, rather, as an outgrowth of local Woodland with some evidence of interaction (e.g., Alex and Tiffany 2001;
Benn 1983; Tiffany 1983; see Winham and Calabrese 1998), as a product of immigration
from the east (e.g., Toom 1992), or both.
Interregional contact with Mississippian groups, in the form of trade partnerships, may have
started during Great Oasis and increased through time, as the reaches of the Cahokian system
spread across the Midwest (Alex and Tiffany 2001; Tiffany 1991, 2003). This is evident in the
stratigraphic position of Mississippian artifacts at Initial Variant sites, including Mill Creek
sites in northwest Iowa and Over sites in South Dakota. Henning (1983:4.56) notes that this
trade system may have resembled that of the historic Mandan, with the Mill Creek peoples
acting as middlemen. Exchange items contributed by Middle Missouri groups would have included lithic and other raw materials, hides and foodstuffs, ceramics, salt, and clothing, as indicated by the occurrence of Mill Creek ceramics as far as the lower Illinois Valley. Exchange
of marriage partners could partially explain some “non-Initial Variant” characteristics in
skeletal biology found by Osley et al. (1981) among Mill Creek site human remains.
Nonlocal materials of Mississippian origin present at Mill Creek sites include Gulf coast shell
and ceramics. Importantly, some of the Mississippian ceramics found in Mill Creek sites appear to have been copied locally. This interaction seems to have marginally involved Cambria
groups (Anfinson 1997:96; Tiffany 2003) but only rarely appeared among Over groups (Henning 1983:4.56). Also important is the observation that the Initial variant’s interregional trade
network was exclusive to the Illinois Valley Mississippians but did not include the eastern
Oneota or other contemporaneous groups. As for the trade of catlinite between Cahokia and
the prairie peninsula, recent analysis of red pipestone objects recovered from Cahokia and vicinity indicates that catlinite did not circulate in any regular fashion until very late in middle
Mississippian times (A.D. 1350-1400), coinciding with the decline of the Cahokian system
(Emerson and Hughes 2001:157).
No Extended Middle Missouri Tradition sites have been identified in the vicinity of the
monument; it appears as though the Mill Creek-Over groups may have moved north and west
sometime after A.D. 1250 (Henning 1983; Lehmer 1971; Winham and Calabrese 1998), likely
as a result of pressure from incoming Oneota people. It remains unclear whether Initial and
Extended variants were actually different groups of people or simply different material culture
traditions held by people living in the same general area, or along the Missouri River trench in
the Dakotas (Winham and Lueck 1994; Wood 1967, 2001). Given that the Initial Variant had
eastern and western divisions, it is possible that at least some (but not all) of these people may
have been related to the river dwellers that became known as the Extended Variant. Toom
(1992:140) notes that, of all Initial Variant foci, Mill Creek and Over exhibit the greatest affinities to Initial Variant sites found in the Middle Missouri Subarea proper, supporting the
idea of a northward migration that partially resulted in the development of the Extended Variant. It appears, though, that during Extended Variant times people were more isolated than
during Initial Variant times, as indicated by the near disappearance of exotic artifacts. In fact
there is little evidence of use of catlinite by Extended or Terminal variant groups except for
artifacts found at the Cattle Oiler and Shermer sites, respectively (Ludwickson et al.
The Plains Village Tradition at the Monument – Relevance for Cultural Affiliation
Great Oasis and the Initial Middle Missouri Tradition are represented in the archaeological
record of the monument and vicinity. These traditions are best known from the ceramics collected by Beaubien (1957) and later by Sigstad (1970). Henning (1998a), Johnson (1998a),
and Anfinson (1998) identified the bulk of these as Mill Creek and Over ceramics, with few
Great Oasis representatives. Of the small rim sherd collection (n=46) reanalyzed in 1998,
Henning (1998a:12), for example, identified 18 rims as Mill Creek-Over and 7 rims as Great
Oasis, that is, over 50% of the rim collection. Similarly, he identified 49% of the body sherd
collection (n=270) as Initial Variant. The reminder of the rim and body sherd collection is
split among earlier Woodland, and later Oneota and Coalescent ceramics, with a percentage of
unidentified specimens. Most of these ceramics come from the Leaping Rock sites originally
reported by Beaubien (1957). Diagnostic types first identified by Beaubien and recorded during the 1998 ceramic reanalysis include Randall Incised, Chamberlain Incised, Great Oasis
High Rim Trailed, Mitchell Modified Lip, and Foreman Plain.
The nature of the modern archaeological record in the monument has led investigators such as
Sigstad (1970) and, more recently, Henning (1998a), Anfinson (1998), and Johnson (1998a)
to suggest that the monument was never inhabited by any one group; rather, it was used as a
temporary campsite by succeeding groups of various ethnicities, beginning in Woodland
times and continuing after contact. Sigstad (1970) has even suggested that there may have
been a taboo against living in close proximity of the pipestone quarry, although some of the
oral history collected in the nineteenth and twenty centuries may indicate otherwise (see
Chapter Four). As for the use of catlinite, it does correlate with the Mill Creek-Over occupation. Henning (1998a:16) notes that catlinite rarely occurs in Terminal Woodland contexts
regionally or to the east. However, he cites Baerreis (1968) and Anderson (1973) to indicate
that small pieces of pipestone first appear predictably in Initial Middle Missouri sites dating
around A.D. 1200, in Mill Creek middens and in the late Perry Creek phase in northwest Iowa
(also Henning 1996b). At least one confirmed catlinite artifact was identified at Broken Kettle, Iowa (Scott and Thiessen n.d.: table 5). Henning (personal communication, 2003) also
suggests that this initial use of catlinite may have been limited to pieces from till and stream
deposits rather than from the quarry itself.
The Coalescent Tradition
The Coalescent Tradition was defined by Lehmer (1971) to denote the protohistoric and contact period developments in the Middle Missouri region. Lehmer originally though that the
Coalescent Tradition was a blending of central and northern Plains cultures. More recently,
archaeologists have argued that the Coalescent Tradition does not constitute a “tradition”
identified through redundant material culture characteristics but, rather, it refers to the process
of coming together of distinctive ethnic and linguistic groups—the Caddoan speakers who
became historic Arikara and the Plains Siouan-speakers who became the historic Hidatsa and
Mandan. These episodes of ethnic “coalescence” occurred sequentially and did not involve all
three groups at any given time (Lovick and Ahler 1982; Johnson 1998b). Currently the Coalescent Period is divided in Initial, Extended and Post-contact phases, with the first one having a decidedly central Plains origin, as indicated by ceramic materials (Johnson 1998b) and
craniometric variation (Jantz 1977, Jantz et al. 1981).
We briefly mention the Coalescent Period in this report because a small number of ceramic
artifacts (six rim sherds and 30 body sherds) dating to this period were recovered at the
monument. Henning (1998a:5) notes that there is (unconfirmed) catlinite in at least one Initial
Coalescent Period site, Arzberger, in South Dakota. He also notes that there is evidence of
interaction between the Coalescent Period Plains villagers and the contemporaneous Oneota,
and that both could have exploited the quarry. Evidence of this interaction is also found at the
Blood Run site, and even some Arikara ceramics (Henning 1992). Sigstad (1973:51) indicates
that catlinite (or argillite) is found in post-contact Coalescent locales along the northern
Plains, particularly at Mandan, Santee, Yankton, Teton, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Naskapi,
Nez Perce, Bannock, Pottawatomie, and Mesquakie contexts. Yet, Johnson (1998a:18) notes
that only one rim sherd in the monument’s collection dates to this period. He offers the plausible explanation that during protohistoric and early historic times (1450-1700) the Oneota
(Chiwere and Deghiha speakers) may have controlled access to the quarry and thus Plains
groups could only obtain catlinite objects through trade. Logan et al. (2001) offer data in support of a Blood Run-northern Plains interaction in late prehistoric and protohistoric times.
Oneota Tradition
The late prehistoric period in the Prairie Peninsula and specifically in the monument’s vicinity
was characterized by the appearance of the Oneota cultural manifestation. The Oneota, best
known for its shell-tempered ceramic vessels, bison bone tool kits, and polished stone artifacts, do not represent a single group or a geographically defined area of occupation. Rather,
they represent a widespread regional adaptation that began around A.D. 900 in south-central
Wisconsin and that later spread west as far as Kansas and south as far as the American Bottom (Benn 1989; Gibbon 1995; Henning 1998b:18). The Oneota may be convincingly tied to
early historic Siouan-speaking groups, including the Winnebago or Ho-Chunk (Hall 1967,
1995; Staeck 1995), cognate groups of Chiwere Sioux (Henning 1983, 1993, 1998b; Wedel
1981) and cognate groups of the Dhegiha Sioux, including Omaha, Ponca, and Kansa (Henning 1993) and, arguably, Osage (Chapman 1959; Yelton 1991, 1998). Prehistoric groups that
inhabited the north woods of Minnesota—ancestral Dakota Siouan speakers—likely acquired
some vestiges of Oneota tradition first by emulation and, later, through interaction (Gibbon
1995:190; 2003). The Illinois-Miami-Oneota connection is plagued with contradiction (Henning 1995:71).
Spatial variation in Oneota material culture generally corresponds to differences in interaction
spheres of local Oneota manifestations beyond the eastern woodlands. Benn (1989) refers to
the Oneota mode of production as a “predatory expansion model,” where kin-based economic
organization promoted the split and migration of segmentary self-sufficient units as well as
the exchange of marriage partners who, in turn, carried with them some technological and
symbolic elements that defined the Oneota. Exchange networks, too, played an important role
in Oneota expansion and alliance building as seen in the broad distribution of catlinite objects,
ceramics, shell ornaments, and bone tools (Gibbon 1995). Permeable boundaries were likely
important in alliance building, as they allowed for the adoption of cultural elements of other
groups. The western Oneota reflected close relations to the Plains cultures whereas the eastern
Oneota exhibited links to Mississippian cultures (Henning 1993; Gibbon 1983; Gibbon 1995).
With respect to the Oneota spatio-temporal resiliency, Henning (1983, 1998b:378) has employed the taxonomic integrative unit “group continuity” to refer to a set of cultural traits that
are consistent found across a locality or region for a period of time.
Much of the difficulty in pinpointing an Oneota origin and tracking down the spread of this
cultural manifestation lies in Griffin’s (1937, 1943, 1946) original and incorrect assumption
that Oneota was a late prehistoric development that derived from the Mississippian culture.
As O’Brien and Wood (1998:345) comment, this assumption was hard to die (e.g., Cleland
1966) and biased subsequent interpretation of the archaeological record (e.g., Berry and
Chapman 1944; Chapman 1946, 1974). Knowledge of the Oneota archaeological record has
since been greatly advanced, leading to reinterpretations of its culture history (papers in Green
1995; Henning 1998b). Muller (1986) determined that in the lower Ohio River Oneota-like
hunter/horticulturalists lived in the fringes of the Mississippian society, interacting with it
perhaps, but also maintaining their cultural and social distance. Alex (2000:186; also Tiffany
1979) observes that Oneota sites typically occur on or near ecotones, suggesting that they positioned settlements to take advantage of a wide range or resources, with emphasis shifting
both geographically and temporally. In time, access to resources such as pelts and hides
would take primacy as the fur trade expanded west. Oneota, thus, bridged the eastern Woodlands and the eastern Plains, blending numerous cultural elements of both regions, but contributing something uniquely “Prairie” to the late prehistory of the Midwest.
The late prehistoric Oneota manifestation is represented in the Prairie Peninsula by the Blue
Earth Phase in Minnesota (Gibbon 1983), Correctionville Phase in northwest Iowa, and Orr
Focus in northeast Iowa (Henning 1961; Harvey 1979; Wedel 1959). Blue EarthCorrectionville ceramics have been found as far as the Utz site in central Missouri (Bray
1963) and the Leary site in Nebraska, pointing to the far reaches of the Western Oneota (Henning 1970:152-153; 1993), likely as a result of population expansion and multiple occupations
of key sites, as observed at Leary (Ritterbush 2002:262). Both phases are recognized by the
diagnostic ceramic types Blue Earth Trailed and Correctionville Trailed, which are so similar
that Gibbon uses the hyphenated “Blue Earth-Correctionville” term for these developmental
horizon ceramics (A.D. 1250) in the Minnesota-Iowa area. Dates for the developmental
Oneota phases span between A.D. 1000 and European contact, with the bulk of large prairie
sites, including Center Creek and Willow Creek, found to the east of the monument (Gibbon
1983; Anfinson 1997).
Known sites with Blue Earth-Correctionville components in the vicinity of the Pipestone
quarry are Blood Run, Great Oasis, Big Slough, Pedersen, Mountain Lake, Fox Lake, Oakwood Lakes, Bastian, Dixon and Arthur (Anfinson 1997:113; Henning 1998b:346). The western advance of Oneota people after A.D. 1000 may have been, in part, responsible for the retreat of Initial Variant Middle Missouri Tradition groups out of this area and toward the
northwest (Alex 2000:168; Gibbon 1995:191). Henning (1998b:399) observes that Mill Creek
and Oneota groups may have coexisted for at least a time in northwest Iowa; this is suggested
by the presence of fortifications in most, if not all Mill Creek components and the absence of
these features in Oneota ones. It does not appear that these groups interacted or exchanged
any significant items. The relationship between Oneota and Mill Creek populations was likely
one of competition and hostility, possibly resulting in the withdrawal of Mill Creek to the
west (Thiessen 2003, personal communication).
The Blue Earth adaptations were late Woodland –like initially (Benn 1995), with a diet of up
to 70% of large and small game but changed drastically after A.D. 1100, or the onset of the
Cahokian system in the American Bottom. The riverine Oneota groups in Minnesota had
strong Mississippian influence and were sedentary corn agriculturalists who often built palisaded villages, mounds, and storage pits. The western prairie Oneota, however, relied more on
hunting and their settlement pattern was more dispersed than the riverine groups (Gibbon
1983:9). Nevertheless, important sites such as Blood Run in northwest Iowa contain good
evidence for Oneota construction of mounds and enclosures (Harvey 1979). Although the
Mississippian influence faded and perhaps contributed to the dispersal of these Oneota groups
after A.D. 1350, both Gibbon and Henning, as well as other archaeologists and historians,
support the notion that the Oneota continued on until they emerged as historic Siouan speakers.
Classic and Late Classic Oneota are represented in the monument and vicinity by Allamakee
Trailed; as defined by Boszhardt (1994:333) this diagnostic type has better temporal connotations that the developmental phase horizon markers. Allamakee Trailed is usually associated
with the protohistoric Orr phase, which is best known in Wisconsin but is also found in protohistoric sites in the Minnesota-Iowa area, including Blood Run and, less evidently, Pipestone
quarry (Henning 1993, 1998a; Beaubien 1957). Oneota populations seemingly decreased in
protohistoric times, vacating their traditional areas in Wisconsin and southern Minnesota and
aggregating in very large sites such as Blood Run, Utz in central Missouri, and Fanning, King
Hill, and Doniphan in Kansas, which show evidence of continuity in some prehistoric material culture traditions combined with incorporation of European artifacts (Henning 1998b). It
was at this time, too, that their networks expanded across the Midwest, as indicated by the
vast distribution area of their hallmark objects: catlinite pipes and tablets.
Oneota at the Monument-Relevance for Cultural Affiliaiton
No stratigraphically discrete or undisturbed Oneota archaeological contexts have been uncovered by modern excavations at the monument per se; paradoxically, archaeological evidence
elsewhere outside the monument strongly suggests that the most intensive prehistoric and
early historic exploitation of the quarry was carried out by Oneota groups and their descendants (Bray 1963; Sigstad 1973; Henning and Hollinger 2003). By far, the most numerous and
recognizable Oneota ceramic materials come from Beaubien’s 1949 excavations of Leaping
Rock 2 (Henning 1998a:appendix A). Undifferentiated shell-tempered ceramics have been
found in 21PP13, an open camp site near the trail that parallels the north bank of Pipestone
Creek and in one of the excavated areas of the “Sweat Lodge” site or 21PP16 (Sigstad
1970:17); Blue Earth-Correctionville ceramics were recovered from 21PP21/22, a campsite or
workshop near the picnic area (Beaubien 1957:11; Sigstad 1970:5)1. Oneota ceramics are represented by rim and body sherds of mixed types that make up 11-13% of the ceramic assemblage analyzed by Henning (1998a), Anfinson (1998) and Johnson (1998a). These Oneota ceramics do not fit into a single geographically confined Oneota manifestation; rather, they
combine diagnostics of various manifestations.
Non-ceramic materials tentatively identified as Oneota include a rock veneer in the mound
site 21PP4, which Beaubien (1957:45) thought it resembled Orr focus architectural style, and
numerous catlinite disc pipe and tablet fragments characteristic of the Oneota polished stone
industry. These were recovered from sites 21PP10, 21PP13, 21PP15, 21PP16, and 21PP20.
Sites 16 and 20 deserve special mention because of the numerous pieces of catlinite recovered
there. Catlinite artifacts in different stages of manufacture are also found scattered on the
monument, as noted in Sigstad’s (1970) inventory of isolated findings. Some of the specimens
indicate that the catlinite was pre-worked at the quarry but most was transported away in
roughly shaped blocks and turned into finished objects at workshops elsewhere.
Overall, the Oneota manifestation, as found in the monument, offers somewhat of a paradox;
on the one hand, it clearly shows that the pipestone quarry was exploited intensively and the
catlinite was circulated extensively during Oneota times and probably by Oneota people. On
the other hand, there is a dearth of evidence of Oneota habitation, however brief, at the
monument. This paucity of archaeological contexts is illustrative of the relationship between
the use of the quarry and associated features and the people who made and circulated the catlinite artifacts, and thus it begs one to look into neighboring sites for additional information.
In addition to Blue Earth Phase sites in south-central Minnesota, more than 22 Oneota sites
have been recorded in nine counties in northwest Iowa, most found within the Little Sioux
River valley, with a couple of outliers on the Big Sioux and the Missouri (Harvey 1979; Alex
2000:201). Oneota sites in this area typically contain prehistoric, protohistoric, and/or historic
villages and burials in mounds or in cemeteries. Differentially dated Oneota sites along this
drainage may indicate a sequential occupation of valley bottoms and uplands into the historic
period. Some of the earliest sites, such as Dixon, suggest a late 1200s immigration of Oneota
people originally from Blue Earth sites (Fishel 1995, cited in Alex 2000:203). Sites with protohistoric or early historic components include Milford, Gillet Grove, Harriman, Blood Run,
and Rock Island. The latter two are only 35 miles (20 km.) from the pipestone quarry and contain invaluable information for contextualizing the origin of Oneota materials found in and
around the monument.
Blood Run/Rock Island National Historical Landmark is located on the border between Iowa
and South Dakota, at the junction of Blood Run Creek and Big Sioux River. Blood Run includes 275 mounds, stone circles, pitted boulders, and possibly a serpent effigy mound (Henning 1993). Of note is the abundance of catlinite in all stages of manufacture, along with a
highly varied ceramic assemblage. Henning (1998a:11; 1992) states that the Oneota ceramic
assemblage found in the pipestone quarry contains the same range of variability found in the
Note that these site numbers correspond to Sigstad’s (1970) inventory but were never filed with the State Archaeologist and therefore are unofficial.
Blood Run assemblage; that is, it exhibits a combination of Blue Earth, Correctionville, and
Orr ceramics, all of which, in turn, point to an equally variable identity of the people who
made and/or used that pottery.
The close proximity the quarry to both sites, along with the similarities in their archaeological
materials, strongly suggests a complementary function, wherein Blood Run/Rock Island may
have served as the habitation site and workshop for a number of protohistoric groups who exploited the quarry, and also a center from where catlinite objects and other trade items were
redistributed across the Midwest (Alex 2000:204; Bray 1963; Henning 1993; Henning and
Hollinger 2003; Harvey 1979:194, 209; Logan et al. 2001; Wedel 1959). Importantly, catlinite
of different chemical signatures may have been present in northwest Iowa, thus reinforcing
the notion that carvers who lived at these sites brought in stones from various sources (Sigstad
1973:Maps 9 and 16; but see Glascock 1997). The significance of Blood Run and vicinity for
elucidating the cultural affiliation of the monument will be discussed again in Chapter Four.
The Early Historic Period (A.D. 1600-1800)
Without the benefit of absolute dating or artifacts of definite early historic origin, it is not
possible to evaluate directly from the archaeological record who where the quarry users during post-contact times. Site 21PP16 or the “sweat lodge” (Sigstad 1970) may be the only one
in the monument that could potentially date to this protohistoric or historic period. Nonetheless, two indirect measures of intense use of the quarry may be cited: first, is the extensive
distribution of catlinite objects in the colonial era (e.g., confirmed findings in Old Mobile,
Alabama, Gundersen, Wasellkov, and Pollock 2002); and second is the existence of large
post-contact Oneota sites, such as Blood Run/Rock Island, Utz, Fanning, and King Hill, that
bear indication of continuity from the late prehistoric to the historic period, and also show
evidence of intensive exploitation of the quarry, manufacture, trade/redistribution, and/or extensive use of catlinite objects. Blood Run for example, shows evidence of this entire sequence (Henning 1993, 1998b).
The Late Historic Period (A.D. 1800-present)
Evidence of historic use of the quarry has been documented from several contexts, particularly from the quarry pits themselves, where modern metal tools (e.g., files, hammers) have
been recovered. There is no clearcut indication as to whether these were used by aborigines,
by Euroamerican miners, or both. Holmes (1919:254, see Figure 3.1) mapped a large number
of tipi rings, some of which could have been historic in age, and he also observed that Yankton and Flandreau Sioux, who came for a week or two at a time to mine the catlinite, built
lodges there (Holmes 1919:263). Historic photographs and notes published in Pipestone
County Star also attest to their presence there (Scott and Thiessen, n.d.). As said above, unfortunately only a few of these features remain in the monument. According to Sigstad (1970), at
least five sites have historic remains: site 21PP3 or south quarry contains catlinite with possible metal cuts; site 21PP5 is a recent quarry; site 21PP10 contains a mixture of possible prehistoric and historic artifacts, including worked catlinite, antler and bone tools, glass, and a
metal file; 21PP12, the earliest quarry, also has evidence of late historic use; site 21PP17, is a
burial mound purportedly containing the body of an Indian child who attended the boarding
school at Pipestone; and site 21PP20 or the Leaping Rock 2 has broken vinyl records mixed in
with prehistoric ceramic materials and worked catlinite pieces. Other indicators of late historic
quarry use are engravings of individual names on the soft rock face.
In sum, use of the quarry from A.D. 1800 to the present is best known from the historic
documents and oral traditions of several tribes than from the archaeological record at the
Pipestone Quarry.
Summary and Commentary
The cultural history of the Prairie Lakes and Southwestern Riverine regions, which surround
the monument, sheds light into the sequence of use of the pipestone quarry and furnishes
some clues as to the cultural affiliation of these groups. Human presence in the region begins
in the Paleoindian period; since that time the inhabitants of this region took advantage of a
rich ecosystem where both terrestrial and aquatic resources were available to them. Beginning
in the Middle Woodland period, use of the resources expanded to incorporate the pipestone
quarry area, although not necessarily for quarrying purposes. Importantly, since this early
time there is evidence of long-distance interaction and knowledge of the existence of the
quarry, as indicated by the presence of ceramic materials diagnostic of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere at the monument as well as small amounts of confirmed catlinite found elsewhere.
It is unknown whether this evidence of earliest use is the result of local populations bringing
in nonlocal materials or nonlocal peoples taking away catlinite. Thus, connection between
these earliest monument users and historically known Indian groups is unknown.
The first indication of possible cultural affiliation of prehistoric monument users is provided
by the presence of Great Oasis materials, which signify a transition between the Terminal
Woodland and the Middle Missouri Tradition of Plains Village Pattern. That Great Oasis
leads into the Middle Missouri Tradition is further hinted by the presence of their diagnostic
materials at Flaming Arrow in the Knife River drainage (Toom 1988; Winham et al. 1994:8283). Additionally, Initial Variant materials identified as Mill Creek and Over are well represented in the monument. The close historical relationship between the Terminal Woodland
and the Initial Variant in the Prairie Peninsula and in particular in the Prairie Lakes subarea
suggests continuity in the use of the monument from Woodland to Initial Middle Missouri
times. This record also contains some evidence of use of catlinite, although perhaps not directly from the quarry but from the locally available till.
Plains anthropologists have long accepted the ancestral relationship between the Middle Missouri Tradition and the historic Mandan and, arguably, the historic Hidatsa (Will and Spinden
1906; Will and Hecker 1944; Bowers 1948; Hewes 1948; Gibbon 1993). In fact, Winham and
Calabrese (1998:298) note that regional specialists (Calabrese 1972; Wood 1974) argue for a
very stable adaptation of Plains Village groups that remained in place from the time it first
appeared to early historic times. Whereas the proposed relationship between the Middle Missouri Tradition and historic Mandan is not without gaps or even contradiction (see Winham
and Lueck 1994:161), it does remain the strongest ethnogenetic possibility ever proposed for
this archaeological manifestation.
By extension, we suggest that there is possible ethnogenetic relationship between the people
who left archaeological materials identified as Great Oasis, Mill Creek, and Over at the
monument and the people who migrated toward the Knife-Heart River area to eventually become the prehistoric ancestors of the historic Mandan. This proposition must be taken with
caution and only in light of other lines of evidence, detailed below, as the archaeological record does not provide strong nor unchallenged evidence of relationships between the Initial
Variant and the subsequent manifestations to the north of its distribution area. We do not in41
clude Hidatsa in this proposition as only the Mandan seem to have a tradition of an ancestral
southern group or faction with specific connections to a migration locale near the monument
(Bowers 1950; Wood 1967; Winham and Lueck 1994); the Hidatsa are known to have traditionally inhabited areas to the north of the Mandan.
It is yet unclear what activities Great Oasis and Mill Creek/Over people carried out at the
monument, given that there is little evidence of actual occupation, except perhaps for the most
ephemeral of camps. The outstanding exception is the Leaping Rock locality, where most of
the ceramic materials associated with the Initial Variant have been found. Unfortunately,
natural formation processes such as bioturbation, as well as late historic or recent disturbance,
prevent a thorough examination of site function. Yet, the fact that the only large ceramic assemblage at the monument was found at the base of a landform known to have a rich oral history of ritual uses, and next to the Winnewisa Falls, insinuates that these ceramics may have
been deposited there as offerings. This possibility merits future consideration.
The second indication of cultural affiliation of prehistoric monument users comes from the
presence of Oneota ceramic materials at the monument. More pointedly, the late prehistoric
and early historic exploitation of the pipestone quarry is attributable to the Blue Earth, Correctionville, and Orr focus Oneota people, whose renowned polished stone industry was apparently prized by regional and distant groups. The demonstrated continuity of prehistoric and
early historic Oneota people in various Prairie Peninsula sites allows one to pinpoint ethnogenetic patterns. Traditionally, regional specialists have tracked down ancestral connections between Oneota foci and specific ethnic groups. According to Gibbon (1983), the Blue Earth
and Correctionville materials found at the monument, which belong into the northwest Iowa
group continuity, do not have a clear-cut relationship with particular historic groups. Keyes
(1951) once suggested that these could have been ancestral Oto. Sites with materials diagnostic of this continuity are found west as far as eastern Nebraska and date as late as A.D. 1600
(Anfinson 1979). The Orr focus, in contrast, is consistently found in localities occupied by the
historic Ioway (Wedel 1959, 1981; Henning 1983:4.76-78). It is important to note the early
historic (1600-1700) range of the Iowa and perhaps the Oto included the area where Blue
Earth and Correctionville materials are most commonly found.
The Oneota ceramics from the monument are so similar to those excavated from the neighboring Blood Run/Rock Island sites, that it seems legitimate to extrapolate this site’s data for the
purpose of expanding current knowledge of the monument’s cultural affiliation. Henning
(1992) found ceramics in the Blood Run assemblage that indicate the presence of early historic Ioway; the presence of early historic Omaha-Ponca at this site in the seventeenth century
is known from documentary records and oral traditions (Wedel 1981, 1986), and thus they
may have been responsible for the manufacture of some of the grit-tempered Oneota-like ceramics found there (Thiessen 1998; Henning 2003, personal communication). Henning
(1993:259) also notes that the broad spectrum of variability in nonceramic artifacts from
Blood Run mirrors some of the native material culture found at the historic Omaha Big Village site in eastern Nebraska (O’Shea and Ludwickson 1992). This correspondence again reinforces documentary and oral information. Importantly, the Blood Run site is not unique, but
one of a series of contact-period sites in northwest Iowa that, together, strengthens our interpretation as to the cultural affiliation of some of the archaeological materials found at the
Based on comparative data, two affiliations may be suggested for the monument’s Oneota
materials: first, with Chiwere Sioux speakers—the Ioway in particular and perhaps the Oto—
and, second, with Dhegiha Sioux speakers—the early historic Omaha-Ponca. From the
monument’s archaeological record alone it is not possible to determine which other Indian or
non-Indian groups used the pipestone quarry and surroundings in historic times. Yet, there
were historic users that must be identified from non-archaeological information sources.
The presence of a few Coalescent Tradition ceramic artifacts may support occasional use of
the monument by late prehistoric newcomer Plains villagers, namely the Arikara, or more
likely, they may indicate interaction between the Oneota and these villagers.
This chapter presents various lines of evidence in support of statements of cultural affiliation
for archaeological remains excavated or collected from Pipestone National Monument, as described in the previous chapter, and briefly summarizes the historical trajectories of culturally
affiliated American Indian groups. Please refer to Chapter One for a summary of genealogical
affiliations of ethnographic catlinite pipes (from Nabokov 1995) that are in the monument’s
collections but that were originally found or acquired elsewhere.
Middle Missouri Tradition and Mandan Ethnogenesis
The traditional territory of the Mandan Indians in the late prehistoric and historic periods lies
considerably west and north of Pipestone National Monument (Wood and Irwin 2001:351).
However, several lines of evidence may be brought together to suggest that Mandan ethnogenesis may have begun with the Initial Variant of the Middle Missouri Tradition, which is
strongly represented in the monument’s archaeological contexts and artifact collections.
Prehistoric Archaeology
Regional archaeologists generally agree that the historic Mandan derive from a stable and
long lived sedentary, agricultural, “Plains village” adaptation that probably developed as early
as AD 800 (Ahler 1993; Benn 1983; Bruner 1961; Glassner 1974; Henning 1983; Lehmer
1971; Siry 1978; Tiffany 1983; Wedel 1961; Winham and Calabrese 1998; Winham and
Lueck 1994; Wood 1967, 2001). Whereas there is strong evidence for continuity between
later prehistoric traditions and the historic Mandan, there is much less certainty regarding the
trajectory that would connect the earliest Plains village manifestation known as Initial Middle
Missouri Variant to the Mandan. Part of the problem is that Initial Variant sites occur as far
south and east as southeast South Dakota, northwest Iowa and south-central Minnesota and as
far north as the Cheyenne River, whereas the later sites are restricted to the Missouri River
trench north and west of the Bad River. Thus, Initial and Extended variants hardly overlap and
are seen as geographically and temporally distinct from each other (Lehmer 1971:66). Only
one exception may be cited here: the Flaming Arrow site, on the Knife River, contains a Great
Oasis component (Winham et al 1994:82-83). Both variants share material culture and organizational principles yet the consensus is, for the most part, that they were culturally unrelated.
Lehmer’s (1971:100) view of ethnogenetic relationship is an exception in that he considered
that the “parent stock” of both variants were the Initial Variant groups that occupied the tristate border region where the monument is located.
On the basis of his work at the Arzberger site in South Dakota, Spaulding (1956) suggested
that there were strong connections between the Middle Missouri Tradition and the Mandan.
He noted that the Over-Anderson-Monroe foci (or Chamberlain Aspect) stood at the beginning of a sequence that eventually led to the rise of the historic Mandan. His view of a Mill
Creek-Mandan configuration sharply contrasted with that of Mississippian archaeologists who
viewed Mill Creek as a derivative of the Middle Mississippian culture as represented in Aztalan (Griffin 1946; Wilford 1955). Spaulding’s hypothesis has withstood the test of time inas44
much as the Initial Variant is currently considered a Plains Village tradition whose followers
engaged in interaction with Mississippian groups rather than derived from them (Benn 1983;
Henning 1983; Tiffany 1983). Toom’s (1992) analysis of the origins of this tradition complements Spaulding’s original hypothesis in that he unpacks the dynamics this development by
considering several lines of evidence—environmental, demographic, and economic—to argue
for a northward migration as the source of Plains Village population in the Heart-Knife River
Physical anthropology has lent limited support to theories of Mandan ethnogenesis.
Physical Anthropology
A small number of craniometric analyses of prehistoric and historic human remains from different Plains groups have contributed to define the range of variability within these populations as well as characterize the effect of genetic flow among them (e.g., Blakslee 1981;
Glenn 1974; Jantz 1974, 1977, Jantz et al 1978, 1981). One study, in particular, furnishes evidence of physical similarity between Initial Variant individuals and the historic Mandan. This
analysis also shows differences between those same prehistoric remains and other potential
protohistoric groups who interacted with the Mandan, including the Hidatsa and the Arikara.
Owsley, Morey, and Turner (1981) compared crania from Initial and Extended Middle Missouri sites with crania from Coalescent sites (which they infer are “proto-Arikara”) as well as
Terminal Middle Missouri and historic Mandan sites. They aimed at assessing whether there
was a general genetic relationship between the Initial variant groups and the Mandan. Their
prehistoric sample included materials from complexes identified as Mill Creek (Big Sioux),
Anderson, Grand Detour, Fort Yates, and Thomas Riggs, that is, spanning from AD 1150 to
1450. Reference samples were from late prehistoric and protohistoric Arikara sites and from
Terminal Middle Missouri and historic Mandan sites. Statistical analysis of cranio-facial features led Owsley and colleagues (1981:306) to conclude that the Initial Middle Missouri Tradition crania were best classified as Mandan in morphology. However, they also found out
that the sample from the Mill Creek site (Big Sioux phase) was more similar to the Arikara
samples rather than to Initial Middle Missouri or Mandan. The authors qualify their findings
by noting that their sample is very small. Differences between Mill Creek and historic Mandan could also be explained by the temporal and geographical cline in cranial variation identified by Jantz (Jantz et al.1981). This cline shows that certain morphological features in Plains
groups vary from north to south and also show relatively rapid changes through time.
Mandan language belongs into the Siouan linguistic family (Dorsey 1885). Glotto-chronology
indicates that Mandan split from a proto-Siouan parent language at least 3,000 years ago
(Grimm 1985; Hollow and Parks 1980; Springer and Witowski 1982); and certainly before
the introduction of agriculture into the Midwest, as there are no common Siouan words for
domesticated cultigens. Mandan is the most archaic of the Siouan languages and is genetically
distinct from Hidatsa-Crow; speakers of both languages were in contact by the time corn agriculture was introduced into the Plains (Rankin 2000). Whereas modern linguists regard Mandan as a separate Siouan group, earlier linguists, such as Voegelin (1941:246) included it in
the Mississippi Valley subgroup on the basis of some lexical commonalities obtained either
by borrowing or by diffusion. The historic Mandan spoke several languages which, aside from
facilitating their middlemen role, would have introduced grammatical and lexical innovations
to their language. Yet, as Bowers (1950:157, ff 41) observed, archaic place names survived in
ceremonial speech and song. These names refer to ancestral villages built during the migration, according to the tradition related below.
Oral History
Given that the Mandan encompassed different subgroups, it is not surprising that there are two
distinctive Mandan origin stories: one that legitimizes their “right-of-being” on the Heart
River where the Mandan, as known historically, emerged and another one that refers to their
primordial origin on the right bank of the Mississippi River, near its mouth, and near a group
of people whose language they understood. This story is tantalizing in that it accords with
some archaic “Mississippian Siouan” linguistic forms in Mandan language noted by Voegelin
(1941), and with archaeological evidence of Initial Variant-Mill Creek-Mississippian interaction. Although these origin stories have been frequently presented as contradicting each other
(e.g., Bowers 1950:156; Winham and Lueck 1994:162; Wood 1967:9), they may refer to different historical experiences of politically and socially autonomous groups who eventually
merged into a single “ethnic tradition” (sensu Ahler 1993), and certainly two vastly different
epochs that have become conflated in the collective memory of the Mandan. The second origin story contains specific references to a place near the Pipestone Quarry where they lived
for a time during their migration. The following story belongs to Wolf Chief and was written
by Bowers (1950:156-158),
A long time ago the Missouri River flowed into the Mississippi River and
thence into the ocean. On the right bank there was a high point on the ocean
shore that the Mandan came from. They were said to have come from under
the ground at that place and brought corn up. Their chief was named Good
Furred Robe…
They went a short distance and planted corn, even though they were naked.
They were located there for a few years, and all that time they planted corn.
Then they moved north, and no one knows the number of years they stopped at
the different places. ..
They continued moving up the river until they came to the mouth of the Missouri river. They saw many trees on the Mississippi river and decided to go
across and live on the Mississippi. They stayed in that country for three of four
years, all the time planting corn along the river…
Again they moved from there farther up the Mississippi River until they found
a place where there was much timber but the surrounding land was flat. They
found a flat place where the timber was not so thick, and there they lived for
six years. At the time they called themselves Nu’itadi, meaning “from us.”
Some of them were called Nup’tadi (no meaning); another group was called
Awi’gaxa (no meaning). One of the latter two bands moved from the others
under a chief named Four Bulls and came to a place where there was much
timber. The village after the split must have been in the western part of Minnesota not far from Pipestone. …
This is the southern Mandan group that in further oral traditions split again (probably in protohistoric times) and later returned to the main village bringing along new knowledge. Later
in Wolf Chief’s version of this origin story, and after the Mandan had moved farther up the
Missouri River, the central characters of both origin stories—Good Furred Robe, First Creator, and Lone Man—become intertwined in a single creation episode. From First Creator and
Lone Man the Mandan eventually received the Buffalo Dance, which included a pipe filling
and smoking ritual handed down by Lone Man. The story continues,
At about this time, Good Furred Robe, who was always traveling, found a red
spot and wondered what it was. Going there, he saw that it was a stone. He
thought that it might be a good thing to make a pipe from. Up to this time the
people had used black stone pipes for smoking. He brought the red stone back.
He thought how in the Buffalo Dance they used the buffalo tail and how it
would be a good thing to fix up the red stone pipe and let them use that. He
made a pipe with no elbow; the hole was in the end.
They had another Buffalo Dance, and one young man danced. At that time
Lone Man came back. Good Furred Robe took the pipe to him and said, “I saw
you using the buffalo tail, and I think this is better.” Lone Man said, “It looks
pretty, but I am afraid of it, for it is the color of human blood.”
The Goose Women had put up a feast because the fields were drying up. Good
Furred Robe took the pipe to them and said, “I have a good pipe here: it is a
nice color. You should use it instead of the one you have that is not pretty.”
they said, “We are afraid of it because it is the color of human blood.” The
people were wondering where he had found the red stone, and he took some of
them to the place and showed them where he had found it. They saw some of
the pretty stones and made a few pipes for their personal use. (I tried to claim
the pipe stone quarries by this story, but some people did not believe it. Mrs.
White Duck has Good Furred Robe’s skull, but some of the younger men do
not claim it because they are not familiar with this old story). (Bowers
Except for Wolf Chief’s own conclusions, these oral traditions refer to the pipestone either as
a place or as a red stone but do not necessarily connect both in a single cultural and geographic concept. Other versions of these creation traditions, originally told to Lewis and Clark
in 1804 and to Maximilian in 1832, were also recorded by Beckwith (1930). Beckwith’s renditions do not contain specific references to pipestone as a place or as a stone.
Bowers (1950:157, ff.41) notes that the names of the old villages where the Mandan lived
during their migration are mentioned in the Okipa Ceremony, but they are unintelligible to the
listener as they are in an older dialect. The translation of these names is secretly passed along
with bundle exchanges. There is at least one map, made by Glassner in 1953, of ancestral
Mandan village sites (pre-1550). One of these sites is on the Big Sioux River drainage just to
the west of the pipestone quarry (Glassner 1974a:26, reproduced in Figure 4.1). This village,
as plotted, also appears to be in the general vicinity of Brandon, a little known early Middle
Missouri Tradition-Chamberlain Aspect site in southeast South Dakota (Wood 1967:128), but
there is no confirmation that Glassner’s site and Brandon are one and the same.
Figure 4.1 Mandan Villages before 1550 (from Glassner 1974a)
Colonial Records
Although the Mandan lived far to the northwest of the monument in late prehistoric or historic
times, their role as middlemen in a vast trade network that moved foodstuffs, hides, and other
valuables across the plains likely allowed them access to catlinite as raw material or as finished product. The earliest historic record of the seven (perhaps nine) villages of the Mandan
comes from Pierre Gaultier Varennes sieur de La Verendrye. There is some debate as to
which village La Verendrye visited in 1738, but Wood points out that most historians agree it
was in the Apple Creek area near Bismarck, North Dakota (Wood 1980:figure 10; but see
Thompson 1984). It is known that the Mandan sustained a primary trading center with networks that reached across the Plains and beyond, from the Des Moines River to the Pacific
Northwest and from the Hudson Bay to the Rio Grande, involving some twenty tribes (Abel
1939; Ewers 1954; Wood 1980). A detailed summary of the role of this trading center in the
early history of the northern Plains is found in Thiessen (1993a, 1993b) and Wood and Thiessen (1985). Archaeologists and historians have proposed that the Mandan trade network
evolved from one of perishable foodstuffs and ceremonial / gift objects in prehistoric times to
one of European imports such as horses and firearms, and to furs in the nineteenth century
(Thiessen 1993a). This three-stage evolution coincided with the westward expansion of the
Sioux and concomitant loss of access to sacred places such as the pipestone quarry by other
tribes. Catlinite objects may have continued to play an important role in ceremonial and intertribal gift-giving exchange, as noted by Catlin (1965, II), but not nearly as intensely as in late
prehistoric and early historic times, when the Oneota (Iowa, Oto, Omaha, Ponca) had access
to the quarry and before the Sisseton and Yankton took control over it.
Imperial traders often dreamed of the Mandan and their legendary riches. Numerous historic
trading posts near the Mandan villages flourished between 1794 and 1860. But little is known
of the local Mandan history between 1740 and 1790, except from rumors that Mr. Menard, a
Canadian trader, had set house in their villages sometime around 1770 and remained there for
about 16 years (Nasatir 1952:82; Glassner 1974b). At around that time imperial Illinois lieutenant-governor Zenon Trudeau initiated concerted efforts to reach the affluent Mandan in
order to gain trading partners and stop the English from approaching the upper Missouri from
the north or east. After several failed envoys, he finally succeeded in reaching the Mandan. In
1791 Antoine Tabeau, a chronicler for Trudeau’s envoy Jacques d’Englise, described that “all
the rivers, which empty into the Missouri above the Yellowstone, are frequented by a swarm
of nations with whom, at the post of the Mandanes, a trade, as extensive as it is lucrative, can
be carried on” (Abel 1939:161). This centrally located post was also connected in down-theline fashion with secondary trading centers below the Yellowstone River, including the Sioux
center in the James River, South Dakota (Ewers 1968:16).
In describing the James River rendezvous, Tabeau wrote: “Much trading is done there. Each
man brings different articles, according to the places over which he has wandered. Those who
have frequented the St. Peter’s River and that of the Mohens furnish guns, kettles, red pipes,
and bows of walnut” (Abel 1939:122). From the Dakota the Mandan, directly or through the
Arikara, received catlinite pipes (Ewers 1968:28; Will and Spinden 1906:115). Along this
trade system the catlinite pipes and other items, such as tablets, may have traveled all the way
to New Mexico (Bray 1963; Henning and Hollinger 2003). Presumed catlinite pipes and tablets have been recovered from Mandan villages, as, for example, the Burgois Village site near
Bismarck, North Dakota (Will and Spinden 1906:166). The reference to “bows of walnut,”
most likely Osage Orange, also shows the southern reach of the Mandan trade network, perhaps through Arikara connections.
In 1795 James MacKay, an agent of the Trading and Exploring Company of the Missouri
River, and John Evans, explorer and surveyor, reached the upper Missouri and provided descriptions of the villages along the river. John Evans actually arrived at the Mandan villages
only to discover that the Mandan had well established trading relations with Canadian and
English houses (Bruner 1961:207; Wood 2003). Cartographer Nicholas de Finiels produced a
most accurate map of the Missouri River, including village locations, which were based on
this expedition’s findings (Wood 1987). Another imperial voyager, Jean Baptiste Truteau, described the Mandan, by then already hit by the smallpox and threatened constantly by the
Sioux, as living in three villages near the mouth of the Knife River and having about 300 warriors (Nasatir 1952:381). Other traders, including Clamorgan and Pardo from Spanish houses,
and Jusseaume, Fotman, Charbonneau, Thompson and Larocque from Canadian and American houses, reached the Mandan in the years before the Luisiana Purchase (1803). As Ronda
(1984:67) observes, few places in the frontier gave more evidence of the diversity of people
and material culture making up North America in colonial times than the Mandan and Hidatsa
towns. Unfortunately, these traders left little in the way of ethnographic description of this
group; some of Truteau’s notes on the Missouri River Indians (Nasatir 1952:257) are one exception.
American Records and Ethnography
Numerous scientific, military, and trading expeditions to the upper Missouri region were undertaken throughout the nineteenth century but only a few left ethnographic records that specifically tie the Mandan to the pipestone quarry as a place or to the pipestone as raw material
or object. The most famous expedition is that of the American Corps of Discovery, led by
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, which in the fall of 1804 arrived at the Mandan and
Hidatsa villages at the mouth of the Knife River (Reid 1947). Their intention was to spend the
winter at their planned upper Missouri River fort, Fort Mandan, while learning about the
country and people they would encounter in their journey. The Mandan had already abandoned their Heart River villages after the Sioux took advantage of their weak state after the
smallpox epidemic of 1780 and landed a massive attack on the Mandan. By 1804 the Mandan
had settled on the Knife River below the Hidatsa, with whom they held a very uneasy alliance, and were at war with the Arikara and the Sioux (Bruner 1961:210). Lewis and Clark
wanted, among other things, to make peace among these nations in order to secure better trading agreements for American trading houses. As Bruner (1961:208) ably puts it,
it is not surprising that the Indian people equated scientist, military man, and
government employee with trader…From the Mandan point of view, to be
White was to be a trader; there was no other kind of non-Indian in their social
universe until the last decades of the Fur Trade Period. Only then did forces
emerge more powerful than the American Fur Company.
The Corps of Discovery was no exception. Whereas Lewis, Clark, and other expedition members did keep travelogues and heeded Jefferson’s mandate to collect information on the western tribes, that particular leg of their voyage was not devoted to ethnography but to diplomacy
and just plain survival of the first Dakota winter (Ronda 1984). Thus little is known of Man50
dan use of and access to pipestone at that time, except for frequent remarks about social and
ritual smoking.
Other important expeditions followed the Corps of Discovery; the overland Astorian expedition (1809-1811), for example, touched the Mandan villages. The record of this expedition,
which included notorious traders, trappers, and travelers such as Wilson Hunt, James
McKenzie, Robert McClellan, Henry Brackenridge, and Joseph Miller, is best known for the
journal of one of its members, John Bradbury. Bradbury briefly described meetings with the
Mandan chief She-he-ke, with whom he traded moccasins for blue beads and vermillion (lead
sulfide) (Thwaites 1904, V:164). He provided a brief description of a Teton Sioux catlinite
pipe. Brackenridge’s 1811 journal also contained general descriptions of Mandan culture
(Brackenridge 1962). Stephen Long’s famous Missouri River expedition in 1819-1820
(Thwaites 1905, XIV) contained rich descriptions of Missouri River tribes but since he did
not reach the Mandan, his journal only contain hearsay information from other tribes.
George Catlin’s long stay at Mandan Village in the early 1830s and his intimate knowledge of
the Mandan as well as his curiosity about the pipestone quarry led him to make at least some
inquiries into their traditions regarding the quarry and the use of the stone. Catlin apparently
recorded this particular tradition from a young man whom he painted four years prior to his
visit to the quarry and who gave Catlin a red pipe as a gift. The story tells about the tradition
of jumping the Leaping Rock, collecting catlinite, and making petroglyphs:
My brother—you have made my picture and I like it much. My friends tell me
they can see the eyes move, and it must be very good—it must be partly alive.
I am glad it is done—though many of my people are afraid. I am a young man,
but my heart is strong. I have jumped on to the medicine-rock—I have placed
my arrow on it and no Mandan can take it away. The red stone is slippery, but
my foot was true—it did not slip. My brother, this pipe which I give to you, I
brought from a high mountain, it is toward the rising sun—many were the
pipes that we brought from there—and we brought them away in peace. We
left out totems or marks on the rocks—we cut them deep in the stones, and
they are there now. The Great Spirit told all nations to meet there in peace, and
all nations hid the war-club and the tomahawk. The Dah-co-tahs, who are our
enemies, are very strong—they have taken up the tomahawk, and the blood of
our warriors has run on the rocks. My friend, we want to visit our medicines—
our pipes are old and worn out. My friend, I wish you to speak to our Great Father about this. (Catlin 1965, II:170)
Apparently, Catlin’s interest on pipestone was sparked early during his voyages, as he described its use among the Blackfeet and the Crow, and again among the Mandan (Catlin 1965,
I). The upper Missouri Blackfeet and Crow, they likely got their pipes from the Tetons or
through Knife River middlemen. He also collected stories from the Ponca, Sac, and Fox that
spoke of a time before the Sioux took control over the quarry, when people from different
tribes could come to the “medicine rock” to perform rituals and collect the stone. Catlin himself experienced the wrath of the Sioux when he attempted to reach the quarry (Catlin 1965,
II:170-172). As for the petroglyphs, it is known that they did have a sacred petroglyph site on
the Cannonball River, where they left offerings and conducted ceremonies (Thwaites 1906,
XXIII:339). So at least there was a Mandan cultural precedent for the account recorded by
Catlin regarding the pipestone quarry’s petroglyphs.
Catlin also left a detailed recording of the Mandan’s O-kee-pa or Okipa ceremony (Ewers
1967), a complex ritual that celebrates creation, the change of seasons, the return of the buffalo, and the male coming of age. In this ritual the traditional pipe has a central role, but it is
not explicit whether it is a catlinite pipe or not. More recently, Bowers (1950:361) rendered
the origin myth of the sacred pipe, by Wolf Chief, (see above) noting that this is one of the
origin myths of the Okipa ceremony. In this myth the pipe is made of two pieces of wood.
Bowers (1950:329) further notes that it was the pipe stem that was sacred and kept in a bundle
for ceremonial use only, while the red stone bowls could be removed and used for daily smoking. He also notes, agreeing with Crows Heart, that the only instance of ceremonial use of the
catlinite pipes among the Mandan was during the adoption pipe ceremony, which was in turn
bought from the Arikara.
One of the most thoughtful and authoritative nineteenth-century Mandan ethnography was
written by Prince Maximilian of Wied in 1832-1834, who had read earlier descriptions of the
Mandan by Brackenridge, Bradbury, and Long and thus had occasion to annotate them.
Maximilian observed:
The Mandan are hospitable, and often invite their acquaintance to come and
see them. Their pipes are made of the red-stone, or of black clay. They obtain
the red pipe-heads chiefly from the Sioux; sometimes they have wooden heads
lined with stone; the tube is plain, long, round or flat, on the whole, of the
same shape as among the Sioux, but they are not so fastidious about ornamenting their pipes as other tribes. (Thwaites 1906, XXIII:274)
Maximilian’s notes confirm the notion that by the early nineteenth century no other tribe than
the Sioux had access to the pipestone except through trade at a high price. Maximilian, in fact,
had also made a similar observation for the Iowa (Thwaites 1906, XXII; Blaine 1979:173). In
contrast to the Dhegiha or the Chiwere, the Mandan used the red pipe for diplomatic occasions but had other traditional pipes, made of wood and animal bone, which were used ceremonially, as for example, the war and dance pipes. Maximilian’s notes regarding the origin
and use of medicine pipes (Thwaites 1906, XXIII:307) accord with the origin stories recorded
by Bowers (1950) and cited above, which place the red pipe as introduced later than the black
stone or clay pipe and not accepted by everyone. Maximilian observed that there were some
taboos about the red stone pipes. For example, one chief never smoked a red stone pipe but
always used a wooden one. On the other hand, an old redstone pipe, which no stranger could
see without first paying 100 dollars, was held as a prized relic since it had been obtained in
remote times. The ornaments of this pipe were exotic to the Mandan country. Only an individual who had a red stone “medicine” pipe could adopt a pipe son.
Shortly after Maximilian’s visit to the Mandan, seven-eights of the tribe succumbed to the
smallpox epidemic of 1837, as described by Fort Clark’s trader Francis Chardon (Abel
1932:133). As observed by Chardon, on January 9, 1939, the Teton Sioux attacked and
burned their village near Fort Clark (Abel 1997:181). What remained of the tribe dispersed
among neighboring tribes, eventually joining the Hidatsa and Arikara at Fort Berthold Indian
Reservation, where lands have been granted through the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851. But
in 1869 Washington Matthews recorded a celebration of the Okipa Ceremony at Like-A52
Fishhook Village, which was being kept alive even after the terrible decimation of the Mandan.
Oneota and the Chiwere-Sioux
As noted in the previous chapter, the production and distribution of catlinite artifacts is attributed to the Oneota cultural manifestation, which in our study area appear in the developmental
period, sometime after A.D. 1000, and with its strongest or “classic” presence in the late prehistoric and early historic periods (1350-1700), when the demand for catlinite artifacts was
also at its highest (Penman and Gundersen 1999). Paradoxically, the Oneota are not well represented in the monument’s archaeological record; only a small number of diagnostic artifacts
provide a few clues as to the ethnogenetic relationships between the regional Oneota and early
historic groups (Anfinson 1998; Beaubien 1957; Johnson 1998; Henning 1998; Sigstad 1970).
It is therefore necessary to leave the monument’s boundaries and search in the neighboring
region for information on geo-demographic trends.
Anthropologists have debated the identity of Oneota groups since this manifestation was first
named by Keyes in 1927. It has been thoroughly scrutinized from the archaeological, linguistic, historic, ethnographic, and forensic perspectives. The fact that Oneota is a manifestation
so variable, long-lived, and widespread that it could only be recognized by a restricted set of
artifact categories (pottery, polished stone, shell ornaments, and bone tools) has made arguments about a specific ethnic identity of Oneota’s descendants very difficult to construct. This
problem has been compounded by the swiftness with which most Midwestern Indian groups
adopted European material culture, thus often preventing archaeologists from establishing
strong links between late prehistoric and early historic Oneota material culture and contexts.
Difficulties notwithstanding, current identifications link the Oneota mainly with the Chiwerespeaking Sioux, and less definitively with some Dhegiha-speaking Sioux groups, including
the Omaha-Ponca and the Osage. Other possible alternatives, including Dakota Sioux and Miami connections have been raised but not discerned satisfactorily. Here we briefly survey different lines of evidence for the Oneota-Chiwere and Dhegiha ethnogenesis.
Chiwere, as defined by Dorsey (1885), refers to a group of Siouan dialects, which include the
Iowa, Otoe, and Missouri cognate groups. These Siouan speakers, in turn, are linguistically
closely related to Winnebago speakers and, together, were probably a single linguistic subgroup until about A.D. 1500 (Springer and Witkowski 1982; Rankin 2000). This close relationship is supported by early French colonial records that describe the sustained interaction
between the Winnebago and Iowa (Perrot in Blair 1996). In addition, both share an archaeological cultural identity, Oneota. It is well established that Oneota-Orr Focus materials, especially Allamakee Trailed ceramics, are consistently found in sites known to have been occupied by the Iowa in the early historic period (Henning 1995, 1998; Wedel 1959, 1981, 1986).
Less secure are the relationship between Orr materials and the historic Oto, or that between
Correctionville-Blue Earth materials and the Oto, as was once proposed by Keyes (1951:333336). It is known, however, that groups of Ioway and the Oto coresided in northern Iowa and
southern Minnesota at about 1700, and thus they will be discussed together as appropriate.
Physical Anthropology
Physical anthropology provides some evidence in support of the late separation of the Chiwere and the Dhegiha groups, as indicated by the analysis of human remains from eastern and
western Oneota sites performed by Glenn (1974:140), where individuals from Orr, Blood
Run, Correctionville, Leary, and Utz sites were found morphologically similar to comparative
samples or “varietal series” derived from two archaeological sites and the historic OmahaPonca population (Glenn 1974:54, 142). On the other hand, Glenn’s analysis does not support
a late separation of Winnebago from other Chiwere speakers, but one occurring perhaps as
early as during the emergent Oneota horizon or about A.D. 900 (see Hall 1962). Below we
summarize historical, archaeological, traditional, and ethnographic information on the
Oneota-Chiwere ethnogenesis and its connection to the pipestone quarry and its products.
Early Colonial Documents
Who inhabited the Prairie Lakes subarea and, more specifically, who had access to the pipestone quarry at the time of European contact? The Ioway, also referred to as “Pahote,” and the
Oto or “Otoctatas” figure in seventeenth century maps made by the French. Historian W.H.
Miner (1911) observed that the Ioway and Oto were known to Mississippi River explorers
Marquette and Jolliet in 1673, the latter of whom mapped their villages near the Missouri
River between 40° and 41° latitude, with the Iowa to the north-west of the Oto, and the
“Maha” and “Pana” in between those groups (Tucker 1942:plates IV and V). The Ioway were
also mentioned by La Salle in 1682 and their location, probably derived from hearsay, was
plotted in a map. On the other hand, it is known that in 1680 two Otos visited La Salle at Fort
Crevecoeur in Lake Peoria, Illinois (Wedel 1986:19).
Ethnohistorian Mildred Mott Wedel (1938, 1959, 1974, 1981, 1986) devoted much effort to
the examination of colonial documents that could furnish geographical and historical information to aid archaeologists in locating contact-period sites in Iowa and in identifying the ethnicity of their inhabitants. Wedel (1986:15) notes that, about 1676, Jesuit Father Louis André,
who was at the Fox River mission south of Green Bay, described some Ioways who were visiting the neighboring Winnebago village. Wedel translated André’s description as follows:
We have seen this year at the home of the puants [Winnebago] 7 or 8 families
from a nation neutral between our Indians [Algonquians] and the nadoessi [the
Ottawa word for Siouan speakers] who are at war. They are called aiaoua or
mascouteins nadoessi. Their village which is 200 leagues from here toward the
west is very large but poor, since their greatest wealth is in buffalo hides and
red stone calumet pipes. They speak the language of the puants…They say that
they have no knowledge of the western sea, although they are at a distance 12
days’ journey beyond the great river called Mississippi…
This passage of Andre’s relation not only ties directly the Ioway to the possession of red stone
pipes but also places them in the general vicinity of the quarry. Furthermore, it contains explicit reference to the close linguistic relationship between these Indians and the Winnebago,
thus confirming the late date for the language split.
Father Zenobious Membre’s relation of his tenure at Fort Crevecouer in Peoria, Illinois, for
the years of 1680-1681, provides some geographic references for placing the Ioway near the
quarry. He wrote:
The Anthoutantas [Oto] and Maskoutens, Nadouessions [Iowa], [live] about
one hundred and thirty leagues from the Illinois, in three great villages built
near a river which empties into the river Colbert [Mississippi] on the west side,
above that of the Illinois, almost opposite the mouth of the Miskoncing [Wisconsin] in the same river. (cited in Gussow 1974:36)
Gussow (1974:36) suggests that the river mentioned by Membré could be the Upper Iowa or
the Yellow in present Allamakee County, Iowa, or the Root River in Houston County, Minnesota—the Yellow being perhaps too small to fit this description. The map “Carte de la Louisiane,” drawn by Franquelin in 1684 places the Iowa or “Pahote” on the “Riviere des
Ai8u8e” [sic] (Tucker 1942:4, plate XIA). In another reconstruction of the Ioway’s whereabouts before 1700, Miner (1911), Wedel (1938, 1981, 1986, 2001) and Gussow (1974) place
the group somewhere along the upper Iowa and Des Moines River drainages, with a northwest-ward trending seasonal movement toward the prairies of northwest Iowa, where they
were living and hunting in the 1690s (Figure 4.2).
The memoirs of French commander to the Northwest Nicolas Perrot and French royal commissioner to Canada Bacqueville de la Potherie (Blair 1996), written in the late 1600s, provide some clues as to the cultural interaction of these Indian groups. During his stay among
the Winnebago or “Puants” in the Green Bay area, Perrot went west to trap beaver and visited
the Ioway villages in the upper Iowa River. He described his encounter with the Ioway, or
“Ayoes,” who with great ceremony presented him with the red calumet (Blair 1996:367-370).
From Perrot’s memoir there is also a mention of Ottawa refugees encountering Ioways by the
river of the same name (Blair 1996:159); this mention is important because the Ottawa, renowned middlemen, customarily traded in “red stone” calumets and may have been responsible for the presence of catlinite pipes in the northeast (e.g., Rutsch 1973:95).
Primary sources for locating the Ioway at the turn of the eighteenth century are two excerpts
of Pierre-Charles Le Sueur journal, the first taken by cartographer’s Guillaume Deslile’s 1702
and the second published in 1831 by Bernard La Harpe. The passages relevant for our study
relate Le Sueur’s experiences during his tenure at Fort Vert or Fort L’Huillier, at the junction
of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers, for the years of 1700 and 1701. Apparently, upon
reaching the Minnesota River, Le Sueur’s expedition entered that stream and ascended northward to the mouth of the Blue Earth River in south-central Minnesota. There he “met at this
place nine Scioux [Yankton], who said to me that this river was the country of the Scioux of
the west, the Ayavois [Ioway] and the Otoctatas [Oto]…that the Ayavois live on the edge of a
lake at 30 leagues to the west and the Otoctatas a little further on” (Wedel 1981:3).
Once Le Sueur’s post was established, he sent some traders to the Ioway village by the lake
and invite them to move close to the fort, hoping that the Ioway and the Oto, who had a reputation of being industrious, would provide him with food supplies and would be willing to
work in the mines he hoped to locate. Wedel (1981:3) notes that one of Le Sueur’s men had
already been at the village and had allegedly married an Ioway woman. After some difficulty
they reached the village but found it empty, as the Ioway and the Oto had moved west to
joined the “Maha” or Omaha in a hunt.
Figure 4.2 Movements of the Ioway (Wedel 2001:433)
They, nonetheless eventually moved back toward Fort Vert, only to have the fort abandoned
in the same year (Wedel 1974). Le Sueur’s explanation of how they located the village was
apparently related to cartographer Delisle, who placed it next to a big lake in his map of the
Mississippi River dating to 1703. Wedel’s best interpretation of the location of the village is
the vicinity of Okoboji-Spirit Lake in Dickinson county, northwest Iowa, toward the headwaters of what is, arguably, the Little Sioux River. Wedel suggests that animosities with eastern
Algonquian tribes may have forced the Ioway’s northwest migration toward the vicinity of the
then friendly Dakotas. The Oto, on the other hand, apparently migrated toward the Missouri
River, near Ft Orleans at the junction with the Grand River (Schweitzer 2001:Fig. 1). They
remained there for a time, and may have moved back and forth from the Iowa villages to their
village on the Missouri.
Yet another important implication of the passage of Le Sueur’s relations that speaks of a conversation with nine Yankton Sioux is that in 1700 this group was acquainted with the Blue
Earth River, but still resided on the east side of the Minnesota River, whereas the Ioways and
Otos occupied the territory to the west of the Blue Earth and, by extension, the general vicinity of the pipestone quarry. Wedel further observes that early writers, including Thwaites
(1896-1901, 60:321), Charlevoix (1761, 1:321), and Kellogg (1923, 1:304-307), noted that
before 1700—that is, in André’s time—the Ioway were in control of the pipestone quarry, and
that in Charlevoix’ time (1721) the pipestone source was located in the country of Ioway, who
were the guardians of this sacred quarry. According to Wedel (1986:16), these comments
were made by the writers after the fact and may be based on hearsay only, but they do indicate
that Europeans perceived the Ioway had easy access to the stone. At any rate, the Ioway remained in the vicinity of the quarry for at least two decades after the founding of Le Sueur’s
Fort (Wedel 2001:434).
The fragmentary nature of the information pertaining the location and range of the Ioway Indians between 1700 and 1750 is compounded by the apparent high seasonal mobility of this
group, who at times were observed living on the junction of the Platte and the Missouri Rivers
near the Omaha and Oto (Charlevoix 1761) and at another times in western Iowa. Wedel’s
(1986) analysis of the period’s maps strongly suggests that the Ioway were living on both the
vicinity of Lake Okoboji and the Big Sioux River and hunting south and southeast toward the
Little Sioux and the Des Moines, where Bourgmont found them in 1714 (Wedel 2001:434
citing Norral 1988). Gussow (1974:39) adds that, in all probability, the Ioway returned to
these northwest Iowa locales many times throughout the eighteenth century before finally
abandoning them. Their travel range, for trading, trapping, buffalo hunting, food production,
and general village life during the period of 1600-1800 encompassed a territory extending
from Green Bay, where they would go to trade and visit their Winnebago relations, to the
Missouri River, where their Omaha, Ponca, and Oto relations lived (Gussow 1974). The Oto
seem to have moved to the Missouri River around the early to mid-1700s and did not return to
the eastern and northeastern locales as the Iowa repeatedly did in ensuing years (Chapman
1974), except perhaps on one occasion (Dorsey 1886:213).
It is difficult to estimate the Ioway population in the colonial period, as they were counted
together with other Siouan speakers or “Sioux of the Meadows” (U.S. Census 1894), but from
descriptions of their location it seems that they were able to maintain a steady number of active settlement locations. According to a French colonial manuscript dated 1730, the Ioway
then numbered in 1100 (Schoolcraft 1851:258). Apparently, the Oto never exceeded 500 souls
and were considered by historians as one of the smallest Midwestern tribes (Chapman 1974).
By the late-1700s the Ioway were experiencing pressure from the Dakota Sioux, who were
moving westward as a result of the territorial war with the Ojibway, and from the Omaha and
Oto who disputed their right to hunt on the Missouri River. In response to this pressure and
also aided by the horse, the Ioway were able to move back east, first to the Mississippi bank
and a few years later to the Des Moines River (about 1765), as described by St Louis trader
Auguste Choteau (Foreman 1940; Miner 1911:25; Gussow 1974:6). In 1778 the Ioway kept at
least two villages on the Iowa River, one above and one below its mouth, but continued hunting on the western half of the Iowa as far north as the Little Sioux River (Tucker
1942:XXIX). They maintained villages on eastern Iowa, along the Iowa and Des Moines Rivers, which were under their control in the early years of the nineteenth century. The Oto, on
the other hand, stayed on the Missouri River, near Ft Orleans at the junction with the Grand
River (Schweitzer 2001:Fig. 1) until the mid-1800s. Their subsequent villages are known to
have been in the general vicinity of the Platte and Big Nemaha rivers.
Post-colonial Documents
Population descriptions for the Ioway are available from Zebulon Montgomery Pike (Coues
1895) and William Clark, who met with the group in the Des Moines and in Prairie Du Chien.
Government factory records at Fort Madison and at Fort Osage indicate that the Ioway were
trading at both posts and hunting both to the east and west, which caused great friction with
neighboring tribes. In 1812 the Ioway still maintained villages on the upper reaches of the
Iowa River and in Prairie du Chien. Due to conflicting loyalties during the war of 1812, the
Ioway split in several factions, one of which moved to the west side of the Missouri River under Hard Heart, who was appointed Chief by the federal government (Wedel 2001:435). Others soon followed and by 1823 they were settled near the mouth of the Grand River. Their
hunting grounds, suffering from depletion of buffalo, had shifted west as far as Kansas and
Nebraska. In 1827 they were settled on the Platte River in northwest Missouri. The Ioway
population seemed to have remained stable around 1000-1500 souls throughout the 1700s and
early 1800s (Blaine 1979; Gussow 1974; Wedel 1986) although they were periodically inflicted with epidemic disease; after the smallpox epidemic of 1831-1832 they numbered
around 750 souls (Schoolcraft 1851:258).
The Ioway ceded all their lands in Missouri and Iowa in three treaties, 1824, 1830, and 1836
(Royce 1899:706, 726, 760). They moved to a reservation west of the Missouri River and
south of the Great Nemaha River in 1834. By that time the pipestone quarry was no longer
near their reach or control, although they continued to use pipestone ceremonially. In fact, in
1832 Maximilian, Prince of Weid, reported that the Ioway of the Missouri River obtained
their “red and black pipes from the Sioux, at a high price” (Blaine 1979:173). Calumet pipes
continued to figure prominently in ceremonial activities in the twentieth century (Skinner
1925, 1926).
If the documentary evidence does suggest, albeit somewhat vaguely, that the Ioway had access to the pipestone quarry, the archaeology of early historic sites in northern Iowa confirms
their extensive use of catlinite and their preference for the Minnesota and other minor western
sources over the Wisconsin source (Penman and Gundersen 1999:55; Gundersen and Tiffany
1986). In addition to Blood Run, where ceramics are suggestive of an Ioway presence (Hen58
ning 1992:40), there are a number of large sites in the vicinity of Okoboji-Spirit Lakes where
the Ioway were likely living around the 1690s (Wedel 1981, 1986). Henning (1998:383,
2003) proposes the “Okoboji Phase” to include contact-period Orr focus sites that suggest Ioway-Oto movements the La Crosse-upper Iowa and Root river valleys to the upper Little
Sioux drainage and lakes in the northwest corner of the state. Of these sites, three are especially relevant for our purpose: Gillett Grove, Harriman, and Milford. Henning (n.d.) has
kindly shared with the authors a current description of the sites’ most important characteristics:
Gillett Grove once boasted twelve low mounds and an earthen enclosure about
100 yards in diameter (D. Henning 1961:32-3; Keyes, n.d.). The site is small,
estimated (Hull and Bargloff (1966:9-10) at 2 acres. European material, mostly
restricted to copper and/or brass tubular beads, bangles, tinklers, and glass
beads, has been recovered from the surface. In addition, some turquoise is also
recorded (Harvey 1979:189). No gun parts have been recovered from the site
proper, but have been found in a nearby field, suggesting a later component.
Catlinite pipe fragments, pipe blanks, beads, pendants and random sawed and
cut pieces are found in large numbers on the site. The pottery is identified as
Allamakee Trailed (D. Henning 1970:159).
The Harriman village is located on a high terrace above the Little Sioux River.
Twelve low mounds are mentioned in Keyes (n.d.) notes. The site has been inflexibly protected by the landowner, is rarely visited by collectors and has not
been excavated. Pottery fragments studied are similar to Allamakee Trailed (D.
Henning 1961:32). One intrepid collector, Rex Hansman (personal communication, 1958) found copper or brass artifacts, glass beads and an iron axe there.
Judging from the quality of the European trade items and corresponding absence of guns, the Harriman village was probably not occupied after 1700. The
presence of 12 mounds suggests comparison with the Gillett Grove site and,
perhaps, Blood Run.
The Milford site is located on a terrace above the Little Sioux River, a few
miles southwest of West Okoboji Lake. Excavations were conducted in 1978
by the Office of the State Archaeologist (Tiffany and Anderson 1993). Two
large, irregularly-shaped midden-filled basins (houses?) were encountered, and
one storage pit feature, several concentrations of ash, food refuse and cobbles
were identified. In the food refuse, bison bone predominated, followed by dog,
then pocket gophers. Fish were taken, but birds are not reported. Some corn
and a single squash seed were are recorded, but digging tools are not mentioned. The pottery compares with Allamakee Trailed, suggesting occupation
by the Ioway, Oto or both. Tiffany and Anderson (1993:301) list items in the
Darrell Frerichs surface collection, including over 2000 pieces of catlinite, 73
of which are pipes or pipe fragments. European trade materials, including gun
parts, tools and related accouterments are noted. Only one end scraper is recorded, but over 1100 triangular chipped stone projectile points are inventoried. Obviously, hunting was important to the site occupants. Iron tools may
have replaced the stone end scrapers that we usually find equaling and sometimes exceeding the number of projectile points found on western Oneota sites.
Tiffany and Anderson, citing M. Wedel (1976, 1981, 1986), limit the Milford
occupations to between A.D.1688 and 1700. To me, Wedel’s data and the archeological remains suggest that Milford was occupied one or more times after
1700. Late in 1700, Le Sueur completed a post on the Blue Earth River and at
his urging, was joined there by some Ioways, whom he wished to befriend.
Shortly after, the fort was abandoned and the Ioways departed, perhaps returning to the Milford site with guns and other heavy trade items. No gun related
items have been reported from Gillett Grove, Harriman or at Blood Run; they
are unique to Milford. It is interesting that guns and other European trade items
are ubiquitous to Milford, yet still associated with traditional Oneota pottery
and chipped stone tools. Mildred Wedel (1981:5) discusses an Ioway (Oto?)
village on the east side of Spirit Lake, but no Oneota site there has been recorded.
Milford was the last of the Okoboji phase villages, judging from the gun equipage and heavy iron items found there. This group continuity apparently comprehends the remains of Ioway and/or Oto occupations here from, perhaps, the
mid-1600s into the early 1700s. [emphasis added]
Henning (n.d.) also notes that these sites appear to be closely related culturally, offering the
characteristics of a short-term group continuity, where trade was important and reflected contact with other native groups as well as with Europeans, perhaps directly at Milford, or
through down-the-line trade with Indian intermediaries. The importance of Milford and Gillet
Grove, in particular, resides not only in the invaluable evidence of prehistoric-historic continuity they furnish, but also in that they contain an extraordinary number of catlinite pieces,
both finished and in different stages of modification, that attest to the intensive use of the
quarry by the inhabitants of these sites—the Ioway and/or Oto—in the protohistoric period,
and also helps explain the presence of Oneota materials at the monument.
It is also important to take into account that, even though there has not been a positive statement as to the connection between Blue Earth-Correctionville Oneota and historic Indian
groups (largely because of temporal placement), the distribution of these archaeological materials coincides with the territory known to have been occupied by the Iowa and Oto at the time
of European contact. Additionally, there is enough stylistic and technological similarity between the Oneota-Orr and the Blue Earth-Correctionville ceramic materials (see discussion in
Harvey 1979:222-223; Henning 1970:153-154) that would tend to reinforce the proposition
that these, too, are the archaeological remains of Chiwere Sioux.
Oral Tradition
Ioway oral traditions recorded in 1848 by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, explicitly talk about the
group having lived in the vicinity of the pipestone quarry. Schoolcraft collected the migration
traditions from two missionaries to the Ioway, W. Hamilton and S.M. Irvin. An Iowa elder
told the missionaries that their migration starting point was the mouth of “a river that runs
from a lake,” and joins the Mississippi on its east bank. Schoolcraft surmised that this was the
Rock River, in Illinois and that the lake source would have been near Madison, Wisconsin
(Schoolcraft 1851:257) or very near the ancient Winnebago area. Also, the placement of the
Ioway somewhere in southern Wisconsin does coincide generally with the distribution of the
Oneota-Orr focus.
Accompanying the oral tradition was a map, originally made by the Ioway Indian known as
Waw-non-que-skoon-a and retraced by the missionaries. In this map, reproduced in Figure
4.3, Waw-non-que-skoon-a located the settlements built by the Ioway during their westward
migration, which involved numerous back-and-forth moves before becoming permanently
settled on the Missouri River. The map has them moving from the Rock River to the Des
Moines, and then across present Iowa toward the northwest Iowa at a place named “Fish
Creek” in the map, which, according to the tradition “flows in the direction of, and not far
from, the celebrated Red Pipe stone quarry, on the heights of the Coteau the Prairies. No. 3.”
(Schoolcraft 1851:257). Although no stream of that name figures in modern maps of the area,
the longitude and latitude (98°/43º) of this village generally corresponds to that of the Big
Sioux drainage (Dorsey 1886:219). The northwestward migration, perhaps following the Chariton River from the Missouri to the Des Moines, would have naturally, as Dorsey (1886:218)
wrote, placed them near the pipestone quarry. The Ioway’s further movements parallel the
historically known movements around the Des Moines and the Iowa rivers, toward the Mississippi River, and then back west, toward the Grand and Missouri rivers, until they finally
settled on the west bank of the Missouri between the Loup and Nemaha rivers, where Schoolcraft found them (Dorsey 1886; Miner 1911; see Figure 4.2).
There is no equivalent Oto migration tradition or map; Whitman (1938:173) observed that the
Oto did not have a group migration story of their own but, rather, a number of clan-specific
origin stories. Nonetheless, the Chiwere migration story, originally collected by Maj. Stephen
Long in 1819, speaks of an ancient nation once living near the Great Lakes that split sequentially into four branches—Winnebago, Ioway, Oto, and Missouri— and places the Oto migrating with the Missouri and generally keeping close contact with this group (Dorsey 1886).
However, Hodge (ed., 1919:165) and Chapman (1974) observe, on the basis of documentary
evidence and linguistic similarity, that at least in the early historic period the Otos seem to
have moved alongside the Ioway rather than the Missouri. Thus, the Oto also lived in the general vicinity of the quarry during the late 1600s and early 1700s.
In another tradition, an ancient Oneota-Chiwere presence as far east as the Minnesota River
was in fact recorded in a Santee Sioux oral tradition told to Rev. G. H. Pond in 1852 and
elaborated by Rev. Williamson in 1856. This story holds that:
Takoha, the old war prophet, says that the Iowa Indians never occupied the
country around the mouth of the Minnesota river. He affirms that it once belonged to the Winnebagoes who were long ago driven from it by the Dakotas—a few others of the Dakotas agree with Takoha. But Black Tomahawk,
who is by some of the most intelligent half-breeds considered the best Mdewakantonwan traditionist, says that in the earliest years of the existence of the
Dakotas they became acquainted with the Iowa Indians, and that they lived in a
village at the place which is now called Oak Grove, seven or eight miles from
Fort Snelling, on the north side of the Minnesota river. The numerous little
mounds which are to be seen about Oak Grove, he says, are the works of the
Iowa Indians…[The Dakotas] drove them across the Minnesota river and
burned up their village.
The Iowas then built another village on the south side of the river near the present planting grounds of Grey Iron, where they remained till the Dakotas obtained firearms, when they fought their last battle with them in Minnesota, on
Pilot Knob, back of Mendota. The Iowas who escaped on this occasion fled
and erected their next village at the mouth of the Iowa river, from which they
were again eventually driven by the Dakotas towards the Missouri. (Miner
Figure 4.3 Detail of the Ioway Migration Map (from Schoolcraft 1851)
This particular settlement location, in the vicinity of St. Anthony’s Falls, is not corroborated
by the Ioway’s own migration tradition as told to Schoolcraft; however, it does somewhat
agree with the statements made by Yankton Sioux to Le Sueur in 1700 regarding the location
of the Iowa as far as southern Minnesota. It also loosely corresponds with traditions collected
variously by Stephen Long in 1819, by Gallatin in 1836, and summarized by Dorsey (1886)
that relate to the split of “proto-Siouan” speakers into the Dakota, Chiwere, Dhegiha and other
groups. Dorsey’s (1886:218) educated interpretation of the all versions of the Ioway migration
story is as follows:
At all events the traditions agree in this: the people built earth lodges (permanent villages), they farmed and hunted the buffalo and other animals. When the
game became scarce in their neighborhood, they abandoned their villages and
went north-west. On reaching a place near the new hunts of the game, other
permanent villages were built and they were occupied for years. So they lived
till they reached the Pipestone quarry (which is not given in the right place on
the Iowa map). When they arrived at the Big Sioux River they built a fort. At
that time the Yankton Dakotas dwelt in a forest region of Minnesota, near the
Mississippi, and were called “Jan’-a-ta- ni’-ka-cin’-ga, people (dwelling) in the
Dorsey’s statement as to whether the quarry was placed wrong in the map or whether it is
even the same quarry has been raised by a number of scholars (see Thiessen 1998). However,
it must be remembered that the Ioway map does not actually show the quarry but the village
near it. At any rate, these oral statements, when combined with the documentary evidence and
the archaeological data, leave little doubt as to the cultural affiliation of the Ioway Indians
with the pipestone quarry and the direct involvement of Ioway ancestors in the production and
distribution of objects made of catlinite. beginning perhaps in late prehistoric times but most
certainly taking place in early historic times.
Ethnographic research conducted in the late nineteenth century by J.O. Dorsey (1891, 1894)
and in early twentieth century by Alanson Skinner (1925, 1926) and by Whitman (1937,
1938), among others (see Wedel 2001 and Schweitzer 2001 for additional sources) highlight
the cultural significance of pipe making and carrying among the Chiwere speakers, and particularly the Ioway and Oto. Although some traditional beliefs were recorded by missionaries,
such as Hamilton, in the mid-1800s, systematic research did not begin until later. By the early
twentieth century, the keepers of the gen origin knowledge and ceremonial cycle were mostly
dead, and thus only a few origin stories have been preserved. These contain explicit references to the pipes and pipe bundles and their place in Ioway and Oto culture. Dorsey
(1894:426), for example, noted that pipes are one of three “public or tribal fetiches” as opposed to “fetiches” of individual ownership. He continued:
The sacred pipes are used only on solemn occasions, and they are kept enveloped in the skin wrappers. The sacred bags, or waruxawe, are made from the
skins of animals. They are esteemed and mysterious, and they are reverenced
as much as Wakanta…There used to be seven waruxawe among the Iowa, ‘related to one another as brothers and sisters,’ and used by war parties. On the return from war the bags were opened and used in the scalp dance. They con63
tained the skins of animals and birds with medicine in them, also wild tobacco
and other war medicine, also the war club. There used to be seven war clubs,
one for each waruxawe, but during the last expedition of the Iowa, prior to the
date of Mr. Hamilton’s letters, the war club and pipes or whistles were lost
from the principal bag.
The bundles or bags were key in the cosmology and social organization of the Ioway and
other Chiwere speakers. Ioway and Oto society was traditionally ruled by a strict caste or
right-of-birth system. In turn, this system was maintained by a gen division, each gen incorporating ritual and political offices, and each with its own mythical origin. Each gen had one set
of sacred bundles. Skinner (1925:436) learned that the war bundles were given to the Ioway
twins Dore and Wahre’dua by the Powers Above in time immemorial. There were seven
medicine/war bundles and one leading or peace bundle. Eventually the twins received numerous other bundles from the bird and animal Chiefs, and gave to the people seven pipe bundles
or danuwe wa’honitai (Pipe, Holy) one each for the seven ancestor gens: Bear, Wolf, Eagle,
Pigeon, Owl, Elk, and Buffalo. The seven pipes were given to represent peace after victorious
war, and the people were thus prepared to make war and peace. From the twins they also received the caste system, consisting of chiefs, well-to-do men, braves, and commoners. Seven
is a magical number thus given in creation to the people. A myth told to Skinner by Robert
Small explains why there are more than the original seven pipes. According to this myth,
“Turtle once tried to claim the victory in a race by making a short cut and appearing at the finishing point with an imitation of one of the real gens pipes which the contestants were carrying. Since then others are said to have followed in Turtle’s lead and made false gens pipes”
(Skinner 1926:216). In other narratives, each gen was given four pipe bundles rather than one,
each representing a caste in Ioway society.
For their part, each gens also had an origin story for its sacred pipe, but Skinner (1926:218)
states that most of these stories were lost by the time he interviewed the Ioway elders. Whitman (1938), on the other hand, found a great reticence among the Oto to tell this secret
knowledge that was not supposed to be known outside the gen. Both groups do share, in general terms, some of the social, political, and ritual implications of the origin stories as they
refer to the gen division. Whitman (1938:173) makes the important observation that the origin
stories, even though they are first and foremost guides and justifications for gen-specific ritual
behavior, do contain behavioral principles that are applicable to the entire group, including
dual government, distribution of buffalo meat after the hunt, tattooing rituals, mourning,
peace pipe usage, and corn agriculture.
In at least two Ioway origin stories, the Buffalo and the Bear gens, the pipe is associated with
their primordial home, near the ocean. In a story told by Chief David Tohee in 1914, the four
ancestor bear-people came from underground and in their travels they heard a distant noise as
of someone pounding. The bear brother sent to see what the noise was came back and told
that a very old man was hard at work at something. When they went to investigate further
they realized the old man had disappeared but in his place was a stone pipe bowl in the shape
of a man, for the old person whom they had heard hammering had turned himself into the pipe
bowl. Skinner (1926:195) noted that the mysterious pipe maker was referred to in the personal
name Hangeskuna or Not There. The name Wita’tai or Hears Pounding refers to the ancestor
bear-people who actually heard the pounding of the mysterious pipe maker. These personal
names and their corresponding female names belonged only to the leading family of the bear
gens who also owned or cared for the sacred pipe. Eventually, Chief Tonhee’s story indicated,
the ancestor bear-people met with the ancestor buffalo-people and realized that these, too, had
a pipe. They offered each other the pipe to smoke and that is how the dual fall-winter and
spring-summer leadership division between the Bear and the Buffalo gens, respectively,
Among the Oto, the Hoot Owl origin story contains a reference to the creation of the pipe out
of redstone. In Whitman’s (1938:196) version, Hoot Owl and three brothers came across from
the great water and, following the eldest brother, they began the search for good land. Each
brother in turn flew and touched the ground and became a person. The brothers built a grass
hut and began to plan. Each brother would go out to find something good and then would
come back to show its siblings. They made bows and arrows. Third brother found four grains
of blue corn and came back and planted it on a big earth mound. It sprouted. Then, eldest
brother went out for a time and in his searches came across a red stone. He made a pipe with a
hole, but it was not complete. Upon his return the second brother realized the pipe needed a
stem; he found a walnut branch and hollowed it by removing the marrow. Third brother then
said that he had found a good thing for the pipe—tobacco. They hunted an otter and made a
tobacco pouch from its hide. But it was still not complete, as they could not smoke it. So the
youngest brother went out, believing he could find something good to complete pipe. He
found a stone and tried to carve it into a pipe, but it was flint, so he could not. But upon striking it three times it sparked and the dry grass caught a fire. He brought back the flint to his
brothers and showed them how it could be used to lit the tobacco in the pipe. He lit it at the
first strike and all smoked.
The pipe had a central role in several ceremonies specific to gens and medicine societies
(Skinner 1926:221). The pipe bundles were opened during the tattooing ceremony that honored braves, during the scalp dance, during the supplication for relief from pestilence, and
during the “smoking horses” ceremony, which called for opening the bundle without smoking
when a friendly visiting tribe was to be offered with horse presents and banquet. The Oto tattooing ceremony, in particular, has an explicit reference to the monument (Whitman 1937:74)
According to one of Whitman’s female informants, on the first day of her tattooing ceremony
her face was painted with red clay that came from “a place near Pipestone in Dakota.” During
this face painting she received a talk from the tattooer, which served as the preliminaries for
the actual ceremony. The face painting was repeated for four days, before sunrise, and each
painting also carried along a two-hour speech. On the fourth day the female would lie down
on the tattoo bed after the painting.
Several lines of evidence, including physical anthropology, history, archaeology, and oral tradition, point to a close connection between the Chiwere speaker–in particular Ioway and Oto–
and the pipestone quarry. First, the prehistoric manifestation known as Oneota, in particular
the Orr focus, appear as direct antecedent of these Chiwere groups. Second, an analysis of
human remains from Oneota sites, including the Blood Run, also support this ancestral connection. Third, historic documents place the Ioway and Oto in the immediate vicinity of the
quarry from the time of first European contact until the mid-1700s. Furthermore, these documents explicitly mention the Ioway as the manufacturers and traders of catlinite objects.
Fourth, Chiwere oral traditions, especially the Ioway migration story and aboriginal map,
place them as once living in the vicinity of the quarry. And, fifth, ethnographic data further
illustrate the significance of the quarry and its by-products in Chiwere society and culture.
Together, this information supports the proposition that the Ioway and Oto are culturally affiliated with the Oneota archaeological remains from the monument and neighboring Oneota
sites, and also have long-standing traditional association with the place and with the stone.
Oneota and the Dhegiha Sioux
Dorsey (1885) defined Dhegiha as a group of Siouan languages including five cognate
groups: Osage, Omaha, Ponca, Kansa, and Quapaw. His linguistic classification of Siouan
languages has withstood the test of time. Modern historical linguists have debated the timing
of Dhegiha split from Chiwere-Winnebago, giving a wide range of dates, from as early as
A.D. 1 (Grim 1986) to as late as A.D. 1000 (Springer and Witkowski 1982). The consensus,
however, tends to support a later date for the split, no earlier than A.D. 400 (Rankin 2000),
and most probably after A.D. 800 (Hollow and Parks 1980). Despite efforts of expert linguists
such as Swanton (1943), whose research supported an Ohio Valley origin for Siouan speakers,
the linguistics debate has only marginally helped to unravel the prehistoric origins of historic
Dhegiha speakers, which remain relatively obscure. Thus far, the most explicit information on
the presence of Omaha-Ponca in the Prairie Lakes subarea in the vicinity of the Pipestone
quarry, comes from oral tradition, archaeological remains found in northwest Iowa, and from
a few colonial maps. Here we use these lines of evidence to contextualize fragmentary historical and linguistic data.
Oral Traditions
Originally collected by Stephen Long in 1819, the Dhegiha migration tradition was scrutinized by Dorsey (1886) and by Fletcher and La Flesche (1911) for details on the ancient origin of Dhegiha speakers (see also Ritter 2002). In Dorsey’s (1886:215) version received from
the Ponca,
Ages ago the ancestors of the Omahas, Ponkas, Osages, Kansas, Kwapas,
Winnebagos, Pawnee Loups (Skidi), and Rees, dwelt east of the Mississippi.
they were not all in one region, but they were allies, and their general course
was westward. They drove other tribes before them. Five of these peoples, the
Omahas, Ponkas, Osages, Kansas, and Kwapas, were then together as one nation. They were called Arkansa or Alkansa by the Illinois tribes, and they dwelt
near the Ohio river. At the mouth of the Ohio a separation occurred. Some
went down the Mississippi, hence arose their name, “U-ga’-qpa (Oo-ga-khpa)”
or Kwapa (Quapaw), meaning “the down-stream people.” This was prior to
1540, when De Soto met the kwapas, who were then a distinct tribe.
The rest of the Arkansas ascended the river, taking the name of U-man’ –ha”
(Omaha), ‘those going against the wind or current’ …
The Omahas and their associates followed the course of the Mississippi till
they reached the mouth of the Missouri, remaining for some time near the site
of the present city of St. Louis. Then they ascended the Missouri to a place
called Tce-duñ’-ga a’-ja-be and Ma n’ -ta-qpa’-ye by the Kansas, and Ma n’ -taqpa’-dhe by the Osages. this was an extensive peninsula on the river, having a
high mountain as a landmark.
Here, according to the Kansas and Osages, the ancestors of the four tribes
dwelt together. In the course of time they ascended the Missouri and established themselves at the mouth of the Osage river. The Iowas were near them;
but the Omahas say that at that period they did not know the Otos and Missouris. At the mouth of the Osage river the final separation occurred. The
Omahas and Ponkas crossed the Missouri, resuming their wanderings. …
After crossing the Missouri they [Omahas and Ponkas] were joined by the Iowas, according to Two Crows and Joseph La Flésche, of the Omahas. They
said that this addition to the party was made about the time of the separation
from the Osages and Kansas. …The two Omahas just named said that their fathers followed the tributaries of the Missouri till they reached the great Pipestone quarry in Minnesota. Other Omahas have said that the course was up the
Des Moines river, which would naturally bring the wanderers near the
Here, the Omaha and their party built a fort and stayed for a while until forced to migrate west
by the Yankton Sioux:
By and by the Dakotas made war on the Omahas and their allies, defeating
them and killing about a thousand warriors. This obliged the three tribes to
abandon their habitat. They fled south-west till they reached the lake where the
Omahas and Ponkas obtained their sacred pole. This is now called Lake Andes,
and it is at the head of Choteau creek, Dakota. From this place they ascended
the Missouri river till they reached White river (Ni-u’-g-cu’de). There the sacred pipes were given, according to the Omaha and Ponka traditions, and the
present gentes were constituted. There the Iowas and Omahas remained, but
the Ponkas crossed the Missouri near the mouth of the White river, and went
on to the Little Missouri river and the country near the Black Hills… (Dorsey
In a letter written in 1884, Omaha tribal member Francis La Flesche estimated that at least
200 years had passed since the northward migration of the cognate groups that took them to
the vicinity of the Pipestone quarry, where they “lived for many years.” (cited in Thiessen
1998:50). A similar version of the migration story up to the Big Sioux River, where they built
a village with the Ioways, Otos, and Winnebagos, was narrated by Fontenelle in 1885. Another version was told by Omaha tribal member George “abandoned” Miller: “The Omahas
came from the North Pipestone Quarry this side of it along the Xé, a creek in Iowa other side
of Sioux City made a village. They started from there Missouri River and made a village at
Homer…” (cited in Thiessen 1998:51). Several other similar versions of this portion of the
migration tradition were collected during the Omaha Land Claims Hearings of 1912 (Thiessen
The Dakota have a tradition of meeting the Omaha near the Blue Earth and Minnesota rivers
(Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:73). The pressure of the Dakotas upon the Omaha and Ioway is
explained in a related migration tradition, collected by Fletcher and La Flesche (1911:86):
The attacks of the Dakota tribes forced the Iowa to leave that part of the country and they moved southward as far as the river Platte and never again built a
town near the Omaha tribe. The Omaha were driven by the Dakota from their
village at the same time as the Iowa and finally settled on a stream that flows
in a northerly direction into the Missouri…
This strife was reported in a newspaper article, as told to Charles H. Bennett by Yankton
Sioux chiefs Strikes the Rees and Fat Mandan in 1879:
It was learned that the old line of breastworks two miles east of town, was built
about 90 or 100 years ago by the Sissetons, who at that time where at war with
the Omahas, who then claimed the quarry, one of the causes of the war being a
strife for the possession of the quarry. (cited in Thiessen 1998:47).
This account by the Yankton chiefs in 1879 would place the Omaha-Sisseton conflict around
1780, after the Omaha were no longer living along the Big Sioux River but were still attempting to regain control over it. As related below, after the first battle in the Big Sioux, the oral
tradition indicates that the Omaha may have turned southward, remaining on the east bank of
the Missouri River, and after a time they apparently returned to the Big Sioux and built a fort
where “the river makes a big loop, at a point where a small stream enters from a canyon
which …has two cliffs, like pinnacles, standing at its entrance, through which the wind rushes
with such violence as to disturb the water” (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:74).
The Ponca, for their part, have their own version of the migration story. According to Peter Le
Claire, the first place where a permanent village was built after leaving the Ohio River was at
the pipestone quarry (Figure 4.4) “They came and lived in Pipestone, Minnesota. While they
were living there they found a pipe stone after a hard rain in a deep buffalo trail. They saw the
red stone and the head chief was called and he told them to dig it and get it out as God has
given us a pipe.” (Howard 1965:17). The Ponca further acknowledge authorship of petroglyphs:
When they were in Pipestone they started marking their trail on boulders. This
was done by the Medicine Men. It was a two-toned picture, part of the picture
is already on the wall and it is finished and only a few Poncas can see it, make
out what it is. We will come to some more of these pictures later. Pa-dah-gah,
he was the chief that kept the Sacred Pipe, he was the head chief and handed
down to sons and grandsons for thousands of years until by some error, it fell
into white mans hands.
Howard (1965:17, ff10) notes that Le Claire’s two-toned picture refers to the Ponca custom of
using the natural fissures in the rock to form petroglyph images and save carving effort.
Le Claire’s version of the migration tradition was narrated in greatest detail during the Omaha
land claim hearings of 1912 and 1914. In their expert testimony, both the Ponca and Omaha
recalled that the pipestone quarry figured prominently in their ancient history. The presence of
the Ponca at Pipestone or its vicinity has not been independently identified through historic or
archaeological documentation, and this lack of identification is most likely due to the fact that
the Omaha and Ponca became separate tribes rather late in the colonial period, probably in the
mid-1700s, or after they moved southwest toward the Missouri River.
Figure 4.4 Known villages of the Ponca Tribe, detail (from Howard 1970)
According to tribal historians Cash and Wolff (1975:3), the Ponca separated from the Omaha
after the Yankton moved into southwest Minnesota and forced them west. This separation actually occurred in South Dakota. There is some evidence that an early historic Omaha village
was built just west of the Pipestone Quarry about 10 miles southeast of Sioux Falls and another farther west, in the White River. The separation must have occurred in one of these two
villages, and Omaha tradition has it that it occurred in the latter (see O’Shea and Ludwickson
From an anthropological perspective, the clan/gens structure of the Dhegiha speakers both
contains information on how this separation could have occurred and provides some indirect
evidence of the timing of the separation. It appears that the Omaha originally had a Ponca
gens, and that this gens ceased to exist sometime in the eighteenth century, coinciding with a
sudden and unexplained drop in Omaha population (O’Shea and Ludwickson 1992). Fletcher
and La Flesche (1911:38) relate that,
There is a tradition that the Ponca were once a gens in the Omaha tribe and
broke away in a body, and that when they became a tribe the subdivisions of
the Ponca gens became the gentes of the Ponca tribe. This may possibly be
true. It would seem, however, that In earlier days some, at least, of the Ponca
had accompanied the Osage, Kansa, and Quapaw groups when they separated
from the parent organization, and when these groups became distinct tribes the
Ponca kindred appear to have combined to form a Ponca gens, for we find a
gens of that name in each of the cognate tribes just mentioned [but not in the
The writers continue,
Pon’ca is and old word, the meaning of which is lost. It occurs as the name of a
gens or subdivision of a gens in the Osage, Kansa, and Quapaw tribes, but not
in the Omaha, a fact which may have significance because of the tradition that
the Ponca constituted a gens of the Omaha before the separation of the tribes.
As the Omaha retained at the parting possession of the sacred tribal objects,
their rituals and ceremonies, the Ponca were everward after spoken of as “Orphans’ (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:41).
Germane to our understanding of Dhegiha ethnogenesis and its implications for cultural affiliation is the segmentary nature of many American Indian societies, which allowed for fission as much as it allowed for consolidation, as Syms (1985:75) notes. Thus, numerous
autonomous social groups that existed prehistorically (and that we may or may not be able to
isolate from the patterning of the archaeological record) may have aggregated historically to
form one or two larger groups or vice versa, as is the case in point, where, according to tradition, the ancestors of modern Ponca were once living at or very near the Pipestone quarry, not
as a separate and recognizable group, but as one segment of the Omaha.
Archaeology and Dhegiha Origins
The archaeological origins of the Dhegiha speakers are mysterious are fraught with unresolved controversy (compare Henning 1988, 1998), in great part because of the swiftness with
which these groups adapted to changing environments and European influence. Perhaps one
of the most contentious aspects of Dhegiha prehistory is that of its Ohio Valley origins, which
has been examined, rejected, and reconsidered numerous times in past and recent research).
Dorsey (1886:215) relates that the five cognate groups were once one nation that resided near
the Ohio River and was called Arkansa or Alkansa by the Illinois tribes. They moved downstream and split at the mouth of Ohio River. This detail of the narrative was what prompted
Dorsey to interpret the Ohio valley mounds as having been made by the Dhegiha ancestors. In
doing so he correlated two very distinct and unrelated phenomena: the Woodland-period
mound sites with the Mississippian-period (but not necessarily Mississippians themselves)
and Dhegiha Sioux groups.
Since that time, a number of archaeologists who have attempted to understand the dynamics
of Dhegiha origins and spread have rejected the Ohio River valley as the probable origin for
these people, proposing instead an in-situ development for these groups from various local
traditions. Berry et al. (1944) espoused an early theory of in-situ Osage development in Missouri, a theory that Yelton (1991, 1998) recently resuscitated. Ponca and Omaha were once
thought to be associated with a Mississippian-Oneota origin, namely, the Aztalan-Cambria
focus-Mill Creek aspect (Griffin 1946), but since it has been established that Mill Creek and
Oneota are two culturally unrelated, if geographically proximate, phenomena (Harvey
1979:220). Following in, Berry’s, Chapman’s, and Griffin’s footsteps, Morse (1991; Morse
and Morse 1983) rejected the migration tradition in favor of a local Mississippian development for the Quapaws; and Johnson (1991) argued that the Kansa derived from the local
Pomona variant, the Ponca from the Coalescent tradition, and the Omaha from the Nebraska
variant. These are only examples of numerous local traditions suggested as the ancestors of
the cognate groups. Bozell (1994), however, notes that there is a hiatus between the late prehistoric village occupations of the central plains and the historic advance of the Dhegiha
speakers from the east.
Archaeologists who question some of the in-situ development theories, on the other hand,
have given a second look at the archaeological record of the Ohio Valley, in search of a reason for the consistent mention of this valley in the oral tradition of the five cognate groups.
Hoffman (1986, 1993, 1990), Vehik (1993) and, less enthusiastically, Henning (1993) suggest
that there are protohistoric materials in the lower Ohio-Wabash Rivers, namely the CabornWelborn phase, that contains materials of possible Siouan/Oneota affiliation intermixed with
materials of Mississippian affiliation. The Caborn-Welborn phase has been described in detail
by Green and Munson (1978) among others, and is a late Mississippian occupation on the
lower Ohio represented most notably in the Angel site. Some diagnostic artifacts found in
sites of this phase are undeniably associated with the central and lower Mississippi phases and
thus have attracted the attention of scholars like Hoffman. Importantly, some of the southern
incised ceramics also exhibit Oneota-like motifs (Green and Munson 1978:303). Oneota artifacts include catlinite disk pipes, buffalo bone artifacts, copper snakes, and ear coils. This intermixing of both traditions has been described in detail for the lower and central Illinois
River (Farnsworth and O’Gorman 1998; Esarey and Conrad 1998) and the American Bottom
(Jackson 1998), suggesting a possible southwest-ward movement of a small number of northern Oneota/Siouan people along the eastern Mississippi River tributaries.
In his Archaeology of the Lower Ohio Valley, Muller (1986:262) suggests that the Oneota developed locally out of the late Woodland populations, but that were clearly not Mississippian
in organization except for the fact that they developed and lived in geographically proximate
and ecologically similar environments. The lower Ohio Oneota and other non-Mississippian
groups seem to have been modest horticulturalists and organized hunter gatherers who were
adapted to a dispersed settlement pattern and seasonal movement. Regarding the affiliation of
the Caborn-Welborn phase, Muller (1986:257) suggests that either the remnant population
was becoming more Oneota-like due to changes in the environment, including the entry into
the area of the bison, or there were southward population shifts in late prehistoric times, as
evidence found across most of the Midwest seems to indicate. At any rate, Oneota presence in
the lower Ohio was minor in comparison with Mississippian developments there but it was
resilient and sufficiently strong to be isolated archaeologically.
Vehik’s (1993) discussion of multiple lines of evidence for the origins of Dhegiha groups
provides the most cogent arguments for reconciling evidence of Oneota connections and the
“mythical” Ohio Valley homeland. Vehik’s major argument is against an in-situ development
of Dhegiha Sioux groups out of local cultural manifestations in the plains. She notes that such
a development would have necessarily implied long-term connection and some degree of cultural and material exchange between Dhegiha groups and their very proximate neighbors, the
Caddoan groups. Neither the material nor the nonmaterial culture of Dhegiha groups gives
any indication that such coexistence occurred before the protohistoric or Coalescent period.
Vehik examined linguistic borrowing, ritual, myth and folklore, and kinship, and concluded
that the similarities within Dhegiha and between Dhegiha and Chiwere Sioux far outweighed
any similarity between those and Caddo or southeastern Mississippian. Vehik’s analysis
(1993:243) showed that many interethnic correspondences (e.g., Quapaw’s southeast vintage
folklore, Osage historical matrilocality) were the result of protohistoric or postcontact interaction. She concludes:
Although anthropologists commonly dismiss origin legends as being inaccurate, in the case of some Plains archaeological discussions of Dhegihan origins
the oral histories have not necessarily been replaced by more useful scenarios.
It seems odd to dismiss a set of oral histories that exhibit substantial similarity
among Dhegihan societies in favor of an archaeological argument that cannot
be substantiated in Dhegihan or Caddoan culture as historically documented.
An origin in the Ohio valley, as suggested by the oral histories, would account
for the fact that there are so many Dhegihan similarities to Mississippi Valley
Siouan, Algonkin, and southeastern societies. It would also explain why there
are so few similarities to Caddoan societies.
The similarity among Dhegihan societies culturally and linguistically suggests
that their separation is relatively recent. Dhegihan origins more likely are in
Oneota or the disintegration of Mississippian tradition societies…(Vehik
Jeter (2002:215-219) contends that none of the proponents of an Ohio Valley origin for the
Dhegiha Sioux has actually looked far enough into the upper reaches of the drainage to find
archaeological evidence of a possible link between prehistoric cultures and this group (but see
Henning 1993:256). He cites Rankin’s 1997 analysis of linguistics and the Oneota manifestation to argue against an Oneota-Dhegiha connection and instead proposes an “eastern Fort
Ancient” connection based on the presence of long houses in the Ohio drainage of northeastern Kentucky and western West Virginia. Jeter suggests that this scenario would fit best with
the oral traditions of the cognate groups, would help explain the cultural, geographic, and historical relationships between the Chiwere and Dhegiha linguistic families, and would place
their arrival into the central and lower Mississippi Valley in the mid-1600s. Jeter justifies this
late arrival date from a macroregional perspective wherein the Iroquois League would have
pushed surrounding groups, including the Dhegiha Sioux and the Shawnee, thus creating a
domino effect of westward population movement in the protohistoric period. Likewise, Schlesier (1994:335) proposes an Indiana origin for Dhegiha Sioux.
To summarize, along the lines of Henning’s, Vehik’s and Jeter’s reasoning, one may conclude
that Omaha-Ponca culture and society had highly developed adaptive strategies that contributed to rapid changes in technology and economy. As Henning (1993, 1998b) notes, Oneota
was the ancestor of numerous Siouan groups, and its spatial variation in material culture corresponded to differences in interaction spheres of local Oneota manifestations beyond the
eastern woodlands—the western Oneota reflected close relations to the Plains cultures
whereas the eastern Oneota exhibited links to Mississippian cultures (see also Mckusick
1974). This statement is true not only for the Oneota manifestations but also for the historically known Dhegiha cognate groups, who were very closely similar in language, ritual, and
social organization but who had very different and rapidly changing material culture (Henning
1993:254). This highly adaptive structure has precluded the positive correlation between oral
tradition and archaeology.
Archaeological Signature of Omaha-Ponca
A few clues exist regarding the archaeological “signature” of Omaha-Ponca occupants of sites
near the monument, which would support the oral tradition regarding their ancient presence
and use of the quarry and vicinity. Interestingly, this presence is more visible archaeologically
for its departures from “classic” Oneota or at least from Orr focus Oneota, than it is for its diagnostic features. It was Wedel (1959:121) who first noticed that in northwest Iowa a number
of late prehistoric-early historic assemblages showed far more variability than those found in
southern Minnesota and northeast Iowa. She commented on the high degree of heterogeneity
that characterized Orr focus sites and entertained the idea of including Dhegiha as likely descendants of Oneota (Wedel 1938). Harvey ‘s (1979:227) knowledge of Oneota culture led
her to make a crucial observation for identifying Oneota-Dhegiha ethnogenesis:
If Oneota culture includes more ethnographic components than previously
thought, then it is also possible that we are not recognizing as “Oneota” some
cultural material which should be classified as such on the basis of cultural
identity. Specifically, if the four Dhegihan tribes [minus Quapaw] possessed
forms of Oneota culture they could vary considerably from the described
‘norms’ in Oneota complexes …Central to the issue of recognizing Oneota culture in the plains is shell-tempered pottery. This has been used as the hallmark
to distinguish Oneota from the Plains cultures and perhaps has led to some erroneous conclusions; all plain shell-tempered sherds which are not otherwise
identified are not necessarily Oneota. Conversely, if Oneota encompasses a
broader cultural base than just Chiwere-Winnebago, then all of its western
members may not have had shell-tempered pottery.
Harvey, specifically, had the Blood Run ceramic assemblage in mind when she wrote this
statement, as she saw in the ceramic assemblage form this site clear evidence that more than
one Siouan speaking group may have been present (Harvey 1979:174). As such, the variability in ceramics at Blood Run spans not only decorative motives and vessel forms but, significantly, technological sequences [e.g., paste recipes] that would indicate that pots were made
by potters who applied different technological traditions to the manufacture of Oneota-like
pottery. Harvey (1979:194), in fact, found it “difficult to resist the impression that the grittempered pottery was left by the Omaha.” Likewise, in a reanalysis of ceramics from the
Blood Run, Henning (1992, 1998) proposed that the grit-tempered pottery does not fit within
the Orr focus/Ioway/Oto Allamakee Trailed type and may indeed represent the early historic
Omaha-Ponca who lived at Blood Run alongside the Ioway and Oto.
Furthermore, some similarities between “revisionist” Oneota pottery from Blood Run and that
recovered by O’Shea and Ludwickson (1992) from Big Village points to an identification of
Omaha with historic Oneota materials. Big Village ceramics ascribed to Omaha potters are
grit-tempered and either plain or decorated with smoothed cord roughening (O’Shea and
Ludwickson 1992:211). Additionally, at Big Village there are pieces of catlinite that seem to
be in the process of pipe manufacture, thus suggesting that in the late 1700s the Omaha were
obtaining their unworked catlinite either directly or through exchange with the Yankton.
Other similarities include the use of Bijou Hills quartzite for stone tools and the practice of
including horse bones as burial offerings (Harvey 1979:137, 146; O’Shea and Ludwickson
1992:217, 232).
Some archaeological indicators of a possible settlement that would perhaps match the Ponca’s
oral tradition that speaks of a village at or very near the pipestone quarry were noted by Nicollet during his 1838-1839 trip to the quarry. These remains, also described by Philetus Norris,
consisted of two enclosures of probable prehistoric age, although the Yankton chief Strikesthe-Ree thought in 1879 that they had been built 90 to 100 year prior during a war between
the Sissetons and the Omahas for the possession of the quarry (Thiessen 1998:47). Historical
relationships have been proposed for the Ponca, namely, their authorship of the eighteenth73
century archaeological materials known as “Redbird Focus” in north-central Nebraska (Wood
1965; Howard 1965). Redbird focus sites do contain Oneota ceramics, but they are loaded
with Arikara material culture that overshadows any evidence of Ponca manufacture of historic
Oneota ceramics.
Physical Anthropology
As we explained above, the analysis of human remains from eastern and western Oneota sites
performed by Glenn (1974:140) involved individuals from Orr, Blood Run, Correctionville,
Leary, and Utz sites were found morphologically similar to comparative samples or “varietal
series,” which were derived from two archaeological sites and the historic Omaha-Ponca
population (Glenn 1974:54, 142). This is only one of a number of studies that have used
Omaha-Ponca population characteristics for comparison with a wide range of archaeological
populations (e.g., Osley, Morey, and Turner 1981; Jantz 1974; Jantz et al. 1978). One of the
most relevant findings of Glenn’s study of Oneota populations is that the western Oneota are
not similar to the Ponca and Omaha, because these have a lower cranial height than the western Oneota. This observation agrees with the traditional origin stories of a far eastern homeland. On the other hand, Glenn’s (1974:133, 137) statistical analysis places the eastern Oneota
population from Grand River closer to the Omaha-Ponca crania (“Dakotid B”) than any other
population included in the analysis. As Blakeslee (1981:101) comments, whereas the Grand
River Oneota may or may not be Dhegiha ancestors, they do represent a low-headed population. Jantz et al. (1981) provide an alternative explanation, suggesting that there is a cline in
the cranial height running from north to south, and that the Omaha, Ponca, and Pawnee are the
southernmost of the central plains groups whose crania have been studied in detail. This cline,
caused by Dhegiha-Caddo gene flow in historic times, is in turn cited as an explanation for the
lack of low crania among Glenn’s archaeological sample.
Whatever the case, available data on physical anthropology seem to at least complement the
traditional, archaeological, and historical documentation that places the early historic Omaha
–Ponca as culturally and linguistically related to, but socially and politically distinct from, the
Chiwere Sioux.
Colonial Documents
Historic documentation of Dhegiha presence in the general vicinity of the Pipestone quarry is
scant and limited to the first 50-100 years of European colonization of the Midwest. The earliest references to the “Mahas” or Omahas were collected in maps made by French explorers
or by cartographers who used the journals of exploration to make charts. In the 1673 maps
made by Marquette and Jolliet, the Mahas appear east and north of the Missouri River, just
below (or southeast) of the Ioway (Tucker 1942:Plate IV). A similar location was plotted by
Hughes Randin, an engineer working for Frontenac, who was sent to meet the Indian tribes
and distribute presents possibly before the La Salle’s expedition of 1682, as his map does not
reflect La Salle’s discoveries (Tucker 1942:3, Plate VI). Yet other maps noting this same location were made by Franquelin in 1684 and 1688 and by Minet in 1685; these were based on
a lost map originally drawn by La Salle (Tucker 1942:plates VII and XIA). All of these maps
show the Omaha living along side the Ioway (“Pahote”). It is highly probably, given the
breath of the first French expeditions, that these did not reach the Maha directly to map their
location but obtained the information from other Indian tribes.
The first written mention of the Omaha is found in Le Sueur’s notes of his tenure at Fort
L’Huillier, on the Blue Earth River, Minnesota, in 1700. Le Sueur sent his men to invite the
Ioway and Oto to come live near his trading post and upon the men’s return he learned that
the Ioway had moved to the Missouri River to be near the Maha (Wedel 1981:3). However,
Smith (1973:257) notes that Europeans probably did not meet the Omaha at their home
grounds until the late eighteenth century, during the Spanish Colonial period. Margry’s historical volumes (1879-1886) contain an undated document written by Le Sueur where he
stated that his post “attracted several Sioux villages, as well as the Mahas, Hoctotas, and
Paoutes, very populous nations that live on the banks of the Missouri, some 60 leagues [about
180 miles] distant from the fort” (translated by Smith 1973:258). Smith further states that
there is no record that Le Sueur traded directly with the Omaha or saw any Omaha for that
matter, but that nonetheless this early mention of the tribe indicates that the trading system
had reached them indirectly, through European or Ioway middlemen, as it is known from La
Salle’s notes that in 1682 two French traders had reached the lower Missouri River tribes
(O’Shea 1903:226). At any rate, Le Sueur’s information, though acquired indirectly, did provide an idea of the size of the group, as he noted that the Omahas had 400 cabanes (dwellings) and, when assembled, they numbered about 1000 men (Wedel 1981:9). His ethnogeographic observations formed the basis for the map made by Guillaume Delisle in 1703.
Arguably, this famous map shows the Omaha to have been living in an unnamed stream that
represents the Big Sioux River (Wedel 1938:262).
By 1700 the Missouri River tribes, particularly the Dhegiha and Chiwere speakers, were
reached by Peoria traders who already had the horse, and this introduction altered significantly the social and economic life of these groups as well as their political relations. Furthermore, the power of affluence and good accumulation also afforded wakan or spiritual
power, thus blending market and pre-market concepts in a single cultural perspective (Schilz
and Schilz 1987:5). The Omaha middlemen, sometime accompanied by Oto, Missouri, or Ioway middlemen, expanded their trading networks to the west and northwest; this expansion
may have been largely responsible for the widespread distribution of catlinite pipes and other
objects at least as far as the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa towns in the early historic period.
Soon thereafter, the first direct observations of the Omaha and neighbors were made by a
French explorer.
In the spring of 1714, Etienne Veniard, sieur de Bourgmont undertook a major expedition up
the Missouri River. It is unknown how far Bourgmont actually traveled, and it can only be
ascertained that he reached the mouth of the Platte River (Norall 1988:26). His close relationships with the Missouri Indians (he married a Missouri woman and had a son with her) allowed him to obtain detailed information on the country and its people. Yet, the description of
the Mahas attributed to one of Bourgmont’s travelogues says: “At the separation of this river
[Niobrara] is a settlement called the village of the Mahas [Omahas, who are] white and blond,
like Europeans. It is the most handsome tribe of all these continents. They live without warring on their neighbors. They are nomadic, sometimes to be found on one side of the river,
sometimes on the other” (Norall 1988:109).
This rather unlikely description of the Omahas living near the Niobrara River and without any
mention of the Poncas is generally cited by historians to time the separation of the Poncas
sometime after 1714 (Wedel 1938; Howard 1995:24). However the Delisle map of 1718,
largely based on Bourgmont’s Exact Description of Louisiana, shows one Maha village north
of the Missouri on the R. du Rocher, most probably the Big Sioux River and opposite a village of “Aiaouez,” and another named “Les Mahas, Nation errante” farther north, east of the
Missouri (Tucker 1942:PlateXV). These two Maha locales could, alternatively, signify that
the Omaha-Ponca separation had already taken place and that the wandering Maha were the
Ponca already living on the Niobrara River (Howard 1995:24). O’Shea and Ludwickson
(1992:20) note that the separation must have occurred sometime between 1714 and 1758, as
during this time the Omaha population dropped a reported 800-1000 men, or roughly the
number attributed to the Poncas. Delisle’s 1718 map also shows a traders trail, running overland from the junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers to the village sites of the Ioway and Omaha on the Big Sioux River, hence indicating that direct contact with traders was
already well established by that date.
In 1724, Bourgmont returned to Louisiana and again visited Indian friends on the Missouri
River. An engineer associated with him, sieur de la Renaudiere, wrote a memoir in which he
mentioned a coureur des bois, Francois Le Fleur, who had visited the wandering Maha, who
lived north of the Missouri River above the Platte, some 10 leagues of the “Ricara” (Arikara)
and who had killed some Spaniards while these were mining silver and took the silver but
knew nothing of the value of “white iron.” Apparently Le Fleur traded with them for the silver
and promised to return (Smith 1974:34). Smith (1974:37) notes that no more mention of the
Omahas, reliable or otherwise, was made until the 1770s, except for one highly unreliable report, made by Louisiana governor Chevalier de Kerlerec, who stated that the Omahas lived 80
leagues (240 miles) from the Ioway villages above the Missouri, and very few traders had
been able to reach them. This disruption in the flow of information and likely of trade goods
may have been the result of the collapse of the French trading house, Compagnie des Indies,
and the subsequent French and Indian War (1755-1763).
Fragmentary as it is, information about the Omaha, when extrapolated with that available for
the Ioway, indicates that throughout the eighteenth century the Omaha coalesced along the
Big Sioux River, progressively moving toward its mouth, and then west. Jefferys (1761), for
example, located them on the east side of the Missouri River, beyond the Iowa, immediately
above the Big Sioux (cited in Hodge 1910:119-120). As indicated in Ludwickson’s
(1994:140) regional map for the years of 1770-1850, the land known and used by them, although perhaps not exclusively, encompassed both banks of the Big Sioux River, all the way
up to northwest Ioway and as far north as their ancestral village, the Blood Run (Figure 4.5).
Jonathan Carver, in fact, met the Omahas and Dakotas together in the Minnesota River
(Carver1956). Subsequently, however, they retreated from the Big Sioux River toward Omaha
Creek, as a result of pressure from the Sioux (O’Shea and Ludwickson 1992:17). In 1775 they
built Big Village, a strategically located settlement on Omaha Creek, where they reached their
demographic and economic “apogee” and were in a position to dictate the terms of European
trade (O’Shea and Ludwickson (1992:23). This condition of power lasted until the turn of the
nineteenth century.
Under Spanish rule, systematic exploration and observation of the Missouri River region and
its Indian tribes was reestablished, particularly due to the Spanish determination to regulate
trade. Numerous official records, compiled by Houck (1909) and by Nasatir (1926, 1952),
among others, contain references to the Dhegiha groups inasmuch as they were involved in
trading enterprises. Some of these documents also contain information on the location of villages and demography and speak of the Omaha and the Ponca as separate groups. For exam76
ple, the location of the Ponca village appeared in the colonial documents in a letter written by
Governor General Miro, in 1785, where he stated that: “The Poncas have a village on the
small river below the River-that-Runs. Nevertheless they are nomadic, naturally ferocious and
cruel, kill without mercy those whom they meet on the road…” (Nasatir 1952:126). This village was probably on Bazile Creek, below the mouth of the Niobrara (Howard 1965:25). The
first European to visit the Ponca, according to Howard (1965:25), was Jean Baptiste Monier,
who monopolized their trade during the 1790s. One of his competitors, Jacques Clamorgan,
complained of this monopoly, adding that this was “a violation of the usual trade which had
formerly been made with the two nations [Omaha and Ponca] which are really one nation,
since the Poncas are nothing but Mahas who have left the tribe” (Nasatir 1952:206). Clamorgan located the Ponca “on the bank of the Missouri, about thirty leagues above the village of
the Maha nation.” The Ponca benefited greatly from Jean Baptiste Truteau’s trading post,
known as “the Ponca House,” which also served the Pawnee, Dakota and Omaha (Diller
Figure 4.5 Ancestral and Historic Omaha and other Tribal Villages (O’Shea and Ludwickson
For the same years, Zenon Trudeau reported that “eighty leagues from the entrance of the
Platte River, ascending by the Missouri, are the Mahas, consisting of 600 men” (Nasatir
1952:539). Jean Baptiste Truteau described Big Village as “situated in a beautiful prairie at
about a league’s distance from the Missouri” (Nasatir 1952:264). They remained in this village through the smallpox epidemic of 1800, which reduced them by at least two-thirds
(Smith 1974:198) and killed their great chief, Blackbird. The Omaha rebounded from this
epidemic but progressively lost their power and influence due to Indian war and restrictions in
Euro American trade with the Missouri River tribes. Less affected by the epidemic, the Ponca
continued holding their end of the trade. By the early nineteenth century river boats commonly stopped by their village in times of peace.
In addition to the smallpox, the first decade of the nineteenth century was filled with internecine wars; the Omaha and the Ponca suffered great losses at the hands of the Brule Sioux.
In fact, Lewis and Clark met as many as 48 captive Omaha in Teton Sioux country in the
summer of 1804 (Ronda 1984:35). After years of playing different colonial powers against
each other, the Omaha sided with the Americans in the war of 1812. But the American alliance would in the end not save them from their enemies; Big Village was eventually abandoned in 1819 due to attacks from the Sauk, which the Omaha could not successfully defray
(O’Shea and Ludwickson 1992:36). Subsequently, the tribe moved to the Elkhorn River, near
Stanton, Nebraska, until 1834. But the Sioux were determined to exterminate the Omaha and
thus harassed them until the latter were forced to flee their village and take refuge in the
Council Bluffs agency. Other attacks by the Sauk, Ponca, and Oto-Missouri contributed to
further weaken the Omaha position among the Missouri River tribes. Between 1819 and 1834
the Omaha moved from their village repeatedly and in response to tribal attacks (see Smith
1974:185). However, they continued to venture east of the Missouri, and possibly along the
Big Sioux River, to hunt and trade.
Soon after signing the peace treaty of 1830 at Prairie du Chien, the Omaha ceded some of
their lands in exchange for a modest annuity and access to trade goods (Boughter 1998:34).
This treaty allowed the Omaha to hunt in western Iowa, which would have granted them access to the Big Sioux River drainage and to trade with the friendly Yankton. In 1834 and after
at least one failed attempt, the Omaha were able to return to Big Village to cultivate the fields.
They remained at Big Village for ten years, until the Teton forced them to return to the Elkhorn River village. Such was the pressure exerted by the Teton upon the Plains tribes that the
Ponca and the Omaha even contemplated reuniting to defend themselves more effectively.
This attempt failed and the Omaha, unable to access their horticultural village or their hunting
grounds safely and productively, became ever more dependent on the government agency at
Council Bluffs. As O’Shea and Ludwickson (1992:51) observe, between 1834 and 1854
Omaha population attrition due to war was perhaps even more dramatic than that due to disease. As Boughter (1998) explains, this situation continued or even worsened after their land
cession of 1854 and throughout the remainder of that century.
For their part, throughout 1830-1855 the Ponca wavered politically from being allies of the
Yankton and Teton to being their victims. In addition, they waged war against the Pawnee on
an endemic basis, calling upon the Teton for support. But because they were not as severely
decimated as the Omaha, their trading economy remained strong. Yet, after 1855 the Ponca
could no longer access their buffalo hunting grounds without confronting the Teton, and could
not farm outside their villages for fear of more attacks. On the verge of starvation, in 1858 the
Ponca signed a treaty with the United States ceding a large portion of their lands but retaining
a reservation on the Niobrara River. Subsequently they ceded an additional acreage but retained their burial grounds and corn fields. As Howard (1965), Jablow (1974), and Wishart
(1994) relate, the Ponca progressively lost ground to the Teton and to the U.S. Government
until forced out of the Niobrara River.
In sum, the historic documents indicate that Dhegiha speakers, namely the Omaha-Ponca
were already living at or in close proximity to the pipestone quarry at the time of first contact
with Europeans. They remained in the general vicinity of the quarry until about 1700. The
Omaha continued using the Big Sioux River drainage for subsistence and trade activities
throughout most of the eighteenth century. Even though the Omaha and Ponca were progressively cut off their ancient territories by competing eastern tribes, they may have had access to
their Big Sioux River locations until at least the early nineteenth century.
There is abundant ethnographic information on the use and significance of catlinite pipes and
other objects among the Dhegiha speakers; in fact, they were curating pipes well into the
twentieth century (Henning 1998a). Pipes figure in Omaha origin stories as having been given
to the Hañga (ancestral of foremost) gens at the tribal circle and by the “old men” or the
original pipe makers. The Hañga, in turn, appointed the Iñke-sabe gens as the pipe custodians.
At Creation, buffalo skulls, buffalo bladder tobacco pouches, and firebrands for lighting pipes
were likewise given to some of the gens instead of a pipe. Thus, these items are considered
equivalent to the pipes in terms of their sacredness (Dorsey 1884).
Among the Ponca, the sacred pipes were kept by the Pon’caxti or “original” gens, and its subdivision the Monkon; one of those pipes was the chief’s and also was used for conjuring. War
pipes, on the other hand, were kept by the Ponca gens Ni’kapashna or “skull,” which directed
the council of war. Oral tradition has it that the Pon’caxti gens found the Omaha sacred pole
during the migration and when the Ponca were still a part of the Omaha. A catlinite pipe bowl
was found inside the pack attached to the Omaha sacred pole, along with nine scalps, a braid
of human hair, a crane feather, seven divining arrows, bits of sweet grass and cedar, red paint,
sinew, and a brush. This pipe was smoked in association with the ceremonies of anointing the
sacred pole (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:226).
It is unknown if all of the original seven sacred pipes given to Hañga were made of catlinite.
However, from Joseph La Flesche and Two Crows Dorsey (1884:222) learned that the two
sacred pipes then in the possession of the Omaha were made of catlinite:
The two sacred pipes still in existence are kept by the Iñke-sabe gens. These
pipes are called “Niniba waqube,” Sacred Pipes, or “Niniba jide,” Red Pipes.
They are made of the red pipestone which is found in the famous red pipestone
quarry. The stems are nearly flat and are worked near the mouth-piece with
porcupine quills.
Although the sacred pipes are a chiefly possession and thus they are never shown to the common people or used in ordinary occasions, Dorsey (1896:279) states that the ordinary pipes
that everyone could own were also made of catlinite. Catlinite pipes were a requisite object in
the gift giving ceremonies, particularly those following the election of members to the chiefly
orders (Fletcher and La Flesche (1911:203). Neither the sacred nor the ordinary pipes are to
be confused with the calumet or peace pipe, which did not have a bowl but a duck head fastened to the stem. Both, however, were interchangeable; according to Omaha chief Joseph La
Flesche, in the Hede-watci, or dance that sometimes followed the sham fight, the red stone
pipes were fastened to the stems normally used with duck heads in the calumet dance or
weawan. Among the Ponca, these pipe stems were painted by certain gens in their taboo colors (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:43).
The sacred pipes played a critical role in the sociopolitical organization of the Dhegiha
speakers as well as in their ceremonial cycles. In an analysis of Omaha politics and chiefly
offices, Fletcher (1893:441-455) made detailed observations of the relationship between
chieftancies and “pipe-dancing.” As opposed to the Chiwere political system, where individuals could only be chiefs by birthright, the Omaha also elected theirs on the basis of accomplishment—the term Ne’-ka-ga-he or chief was derived from three words “embodying the
idea that the position has been reached by means of the will or act of the people.” As among
the Chiwere, the Dhegiha had two chiefly offices: the higher-order one representing the chiefs
of the seven original clans and possessing a “pipe owner” subgens, and lower-order one representing the “brown or earth people” or the accomplished men. The stone pipe was the symbol
of a chief. A man elected to be chief would have to smoke the seven sacred pipes as a sign
that he accepted his office. These pipes were unwrapped and presented at the tribal circle,
which in turn evoked the original circle where the “seven old men” once made and distributed
the original pipes. In historic times, the two remaining sacred pipes had the critical role of
symbolizing the union of the two halves of the tribal circle (the Omaha moieties), and thus
representing the tribe as a whole. As Fletcher and La Flesche (1911:207) noted,
The prominence given to the Pipes, as the credential of the “old men,” as their
authority in the creation of chiefs and the governing council, seems to indicate
that the institution of the Nini’baton and the establishment of the council, although a progressive movement, was a growth, a development of earlier forms,
rather than an invention or arbitrary arrangement of the “old men.” The retaining of the two Pipes as the supreme or confirmatory authority within the council rather than giving that power to a head chief was consonant with the fundamental idea embodied in the tribal organization.
Thus, it appears that the pipe, made of catlinite, was an intrinsic element in the very fabric of
Omaha society since its inception or, judging from the similarities of the role of pipes among
Dhegiha and Chiwere speakers, since before their split.
The sacred pipes were smoked on special occasions. The summer hunt, the preparation for
war, and the corn planting are examples of crucial times when smoking took place in conjunction with the setting of the sacred pole and the sacred tent that held the sacred white buffalo
hide. This hide had shell disks fastened to its back and the pipe associated with it was a catlinite disk reminiscent of Oneota design; this shape is supposed to represent the hoof of the buffalo and is associated with its creation or birth (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:284, 290).
Smoking of the sacred pipes occurred during the preliminary feast before departure for the
summer hunt; during the white buffalo hide ceremony after the prey had been sighted; and
before the return home, after anointing the sacred pole and completing the sham fight or mock
combat (Dorsey 1884:284,296; Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:281, see Figure 2.2). The association of the buffalo with the catlinite disk pipe is particularly noteworthy as it explains the
intricate connection among ecological, ceremonial, and cultural manifestations that perhaps
date as far back as Oneota times, when the disk pipes were first made.
The sacred war pipes were kept in the sacred war bundle, along with an unidentified flag, and
parts or skin of elk fetus, wolf, fox, otter, porcupine, swallow, falcon, and a scalp lock. Each
of these components was said to have been used in ancient ceremonies, some of which were
lost. But at least one was described: the wolf skin was soaked in water and wrapped around
the neck of a person for divinatory purposes. The pack was brought out and the two war pipes
were filled and smoked in preparation for a large war party or a defensive party (Dorsey
1884:319). During campaigns, the pack was kept in the sacred war tent. The pipes belonging
to the war tent were elbow-shaped with serrated carvings.
Also in the tent was the sacred shell, the oldest, most powerful, and greatly feared object of
the Omaha. This shell was Unio alatus, a fresh water mussel found in the Ohio, northern Mississippi, Missouri, and Great Lakes. Fletcher and La Flesche (1911:456) suggest that it would
have been brought to them from an outside source; alternatively, this shell may have been
brought along by the Omaha themselves during the migrations—hence its great power. Shells
are associated with the Omaha Midewiwin society (Fortune 1969), which is an ancient institution of Great Lakes / woodlands origin. Fletcher and La Flesche thought that the rites associated with sacred shell, long since in disuse, were among the oldest of the tribe. They further
hypothesized, along the lines of modern Plains anthropologists such as Henning (1993),that
the Omaha had adapted their ritual cycle to changing habitats and environments, but that the
core of their primordial cosmology remained intact.
The sacred pipes were smoked on occasion of planting. The Omaha keeper of the sacred
pipes, the Inke’cabe gens, also had the red corn taboo and thus had the obligation to distribute
sacred corn at the time of planting; it was the opinion of Fletcher and La Flesche (1911:261)
that the pipe and corn rites were once closely connected. This connection is evident in Chiwere origin traditions and specifically the Oto’s Hoot Owl gens origin story, which ties the
discovery of corn and of red pipestone to the four Hoot Owl brothers.
Individual pipes were owned and smoked by powerful members of secret medicine societies.
For example, Fortune (1969 [1932]:76) describes how a member of the Ghost society, when
asked to stop the rain, filled a small pipe that was unadorned in token of his modesty in addressing the cosmic forces, elevated the stem and sung a song while the smoke wafted upward. The Midewiwin and Water Monster cognate societies’ rituals also involved smoking
pipes and shells (Fortune 1969:117). Among the warrior societies, the Hethu’shka is probably
the most ancient, its origins dating to the time before the Dhegiha cognates split and also existed among the Chiwere cognates. This society had two sacred pipes and the pipe-keeping
office was hereditary (Fletcher and La Flesche 1911:459). Pipes were also smoked during
feasts held by other social societies.
Individual pipes filled with tobacco were taken in vision quests in preparation for the coming
of age and for war. These could not be ignited until a vision had been attained, or an enemy
had been killed (Fortune 1969:188). Catlinite pipes were also left as offerings after the summer hunt. Dorsey (1884:286) describes how the director of the hunt (chosen by the chiefs) had
to provide a red stone pipe bowl (not a sacred one) and a stick of hickory or oak, eight feet
long, painted with red, adorned with a row of white and spotted eagle feathers and with a
nikide (precious shell disk or pendant). The pipe was fastened across the middle of the
wacabe, which was left stuck into the ground on a hill. This object was always ritually deposited before the return home. From archaeology it is known that in ancient times the pipes were
ritually deposited in mounds or as funerary offerings, but this was not recorded in historic descriptions of funerary rites except for general references to burial with all personal possessions.
Whereas the prehistoric origin of the Omaha and Ponca remain shrouded in mystery, their
presence at or near the quarry has left an unmistakable signature in their oral tradition, society, and culture. Fragmentary as they are, the archaeology and documentary history of the late
prehistoric and protohistoric period also point to an Oneota-Omaha-Ponca presence in the
immediate vicinity of Pipestone National Monument and to their cultural affiliation with at
least some of the monument’s archaeological remains classified as Oneota.
The name Dakota designates a large cultural group with several significant sub-groups. The
name also designates the language spoken by these groups. Dakota is one of the three Mississippi Valley linguistic groups; historical linguists believe it split from proto-Siouan at least
3,000 years ago and probably about 5,000 years ago (Hollow and Parks 1980; Rankin 2000;
Grimm 1985). Dakota encompasses three dialect groups: the Dakota or Santee Dakota, the
Middle Dakota sometimes called “Nakota” used for the Yankton and Yanktonai, and the Lakota or Teton Dakota. They are distantly related to Stoney and Asinniboin, which once were a
part of the proto-Dakota family (Springer and Witowsky 1982, Figure 3). Some researchers
place the Yankton and Yanktonai as a group separate from the Dakota (Santee) and the Lakota (Teton). DeMallie (2001a:718), however, asserts that indeed Yankton and Yanktonai
people are Dakota and not Nakota. For DeMallie, the term Nakota refers properly to the Assiniboin and the Stoney Siouan groups.
French literature dating to the early colonial period (1650-1700) refers to the Dakota as the
Nadouesioux, distinguishing only between the Sioux of the east or of the woods and the Sioux
of the west or Sioux of the Prairies (DeMallie 2001a:722; Wedel 1986).Gibbon (2003) looking at the historic and ethnographic literature, asserts that there is no one term that satisfactorily refers to the Dakota, Lakota, and Yankton peoples. Therefore they choose to use the term
Sioux as the generic functional moniker. This reflects also the history of European and
American recording of the indigenous cultural groups and the confusion that arose from multiple indigenous languages and multiple European languages trying to make sense of each
other. The word Sioux comes from an early Ottawa designation an towel sisal “which was
borrowed into French as Nadouessiouak and adapted as Nadouesioux, with the French plural
–x substituted for the Ojibwa plural –ak.” Eventually the French abbreviated this to Sioux.
Dakota people today sometime refer to themselves as Sioux, usually when speaking to nonNatives. Dakota people may use their band names (e.g. Sans Arc, Mdewakanton) or their larger group names (Lakota or Dakota) in preference to “Sioux,” which is a term of foreign origin. Other means of self-reference may include reservation affiliation (e.g., Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Prairie Island). Though the terms Santee and Teton have historical significance, they are
not commonly used by many groups today. In this chapter we follow the linguistic and cultural divisions used in the Handbook of American Indians, as it is an updated and easily accessible source of classic and contemporary references on the prehistory, history, and ethnography of Siouan speakers.
Historical Sketch
Around the time of European contact (mid-1600s), the Dakota heartland centered on the Mississippi headwaters and lake system of northern and central Minnesota, particularly around
Mille Lacs, but their hunting range extended to western and northern Wisconsin, northern
Iowa, eastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota (Howard 1985; Gibbon 2003).
According to French trader Le Sueur, who established a post in southern Minnesota in 1700,
even the Lakota, called the Tintonah by Le Sueur, resided very near Mille Lacs along with the
Santee Dakota, a term that appears to subsume the major Eastern Sioux/Dakota groups known
as the Mdewankaton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton and Sisseton (Hickerson 1974:53). Tribal historians Hoover and Bruguier (1988:25) also place the Yankton and Yanktonai as living in central Minnesota as late as 1700 but traveling twice yearly along the corridor that took them
through the pipestone quarry to the Black Hills (Figure 5.1). Whereas archaeological evidence
and historical accounts place the Dakota speakers within the Woodland tradition of the Mississippi headwaters, their land and resource use practices indicate that they were familiar with
the forest-prairie ecotone and organized their activities accordingly (Robinson [1904] 1956).
Figure 5.1 Heartland, hinterland, and expansion territories of the Dakota and
Lakota Sioux (from Hoover and Bruguier 1988)
Dakota peoples lived in semi-permanent villages and they were highly mobile within and outside their traditionally held lands. The Dakota used the rivers for transportation. They used
riparian areas for subsistence from aquatic plants and animal including many species of fish
and many species of plants including wild rice. The woodland areas provided other plant resources including sugar maple and hunting opportunities especially elk and deer. The grasslands offered still other plants for food and medicine and opportunities to hunt buffalo. Deer
and elk hunting was a late fall early winter activity. The summer was the appropriate time to
hunt buffalo. Early to mid autumn was the harvest time of wild rice, though western Dakota
groups abandoned such harvesting as they moved to the prairies. The “Sioux of the West”
were described by Le Sueur as people who lived by the hunt, roamed the prairies between the
Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, and who did not practice horticulture (DeMallie
2001a:725). It is possible, however; that such Sioux of the West would trade for agricultural
Pierre Esprit Radisson, who spent the winter of 1661-1662 in central Wisconsin, were the first
Europeans who rendered a detailed description of the Nadouesioux as a group having broad
interregional relationships with varied and distant ethnic groups (Adams 1961). In 1685,
Nicolas Perrot established a trading post. Hickerson states that this post was “located either at
the mouth of the Trempealeau River … or near Pelee Island.” This post, which had been intended for trade with the Dakota, operated until about 1691 (Hickerson 1974:58-59; Blair
1996, I:243) and it was succeeded by Fort Le Sueur, built in 1694-1695, in the same island.
According to Hickerson, there were no “permanent Sioux villages…south of the Minnesota
River” circa 1695 (Hickerson 1974:62), and Frankelin’s 1697 map shows the villages of the
Wahpeton band of Dakota on the north shore of Mille Lacs and those of Mdewakanton band
on the south shore, near the head of the Rum River. However, the bands’ main habitation
range appears to have stretched down to Lake Pepin (Anderson 1984:23-24).
All the above sources, therefore, confirm that, until the end of the seventeenth century, Dakota occupancy was well established in the area comprised between the St. Croix (and perhaps between the Wisconsin) and Minnesota or St. Peter rivers, and from Mille Lacs to the
Mississippi River as far down as Lake Pepin, below the mouth of the St. Croix. The trading
post in Lake Pepin, was abandoned in 1695 leaving the Sioux without traders until 1699
(Hickerson 1974:64). Le Sueur, not wishing to abandon his endeavors entirely, resumed trade
with the Sioux in 1699 or 1700, when he established his post at the confluence of the Blue
Earth and the Minnesota Rivers.
Le Sueur’s memoirs are a valuable source of information on the extent of territory controlled
by the Dakota speaking groups along the forest-prairie ecotone. Wedel’s (1981, 1986) careful
analysis of Le Sueur’s information as well as other cartographic, historical, and archaeological data dating to the protohistoric and early historic periods reveals that the Sioux (possibly
the Yankton) were unhappy about Le Sueur’s decision to place his post so far to the southwest
as the Blue Earth River, as it forced them to leave their main settlements undefended and
could easily be cut off from them by their enemies. According to Wedel’s model, the Sioux
may not have had absolute control of the lands to the west and south of the Minnesota River
until after 1700, as these were traditional Iowa (Chiwere Siouan speakers) lands (contra DeMallie 2001b). The Yankton endeavored to take control over this area and had completely
succeeded by the mid-1700s.
During the French Colonial period, intertribal warfare continued, intensifying on the western
portions of the Great Lakes and specifically in the upper Mississippi region. Indian nations
oscillated between peace and war with each other. At times alliances would form against
common enemies. However, later in another conflict, former allies would become enemies
and vice versa. It appears that from 1670 to 1679 the Dakotas were at war with the Ojibway,
Illinois, Cree, and Fox (Perrot in Blair 1996, I:182-190). For the next decade the Sioux were
at war with the Fox and the Miami. In 1691 the Sioux allied themselves with the Ojibway and
the Iowa to battle the Fox and Miami (La Potherie in Blair 1996, II:112-113). This alliance
would be short-lived, as they engaged in internecine warfare that lasted for almost a century.
The greatest pressure on the Dakota was placed by the Ojibway, an Algonquian-speaking
group of people who were migrating from the eastern Great Lakes into the upper mid-west
due to pressure from the Iroquois Wars and the lure of the fur trade. Throughout the eighteenth century the Ojibway relentlessly pushed the Dakota toward the Plains, causing a domino effect that eventually affected other ethnic groups as far as the middle Missouri River.
During the American period, settlement and encroachment put further pressure upon the Dakota people. Statehood, achieved in Minnesota in 1858, only put the Dakota into further jeopardy of land and livelihood. Various Dakota bands ceded land and were restricted to reservations along the Minnesota River, on the Mississippi River downstream from the mouth of the
St. Croix River, and along the Big Sioux River and upper Des Moines River in northwest
Iowa (Winchell 1911). Other reservations were established in the Dakota Territory which became the states of North and South Dakota. Several treaties exist and have existed between
various Dakota Sioux speakers and the United States (copies of relevant treaties are in Volume II of this study).
In Minnesota, the conditions of Indian groups worsened after 1858 to the point that the Dakota mostly Santee Dakota, Mdewakanton and Wahpekute rebelled and killed many American settlers in 1862. The Sioux Uprising or Sioux Rebellion as it is called resulted in the punishment of Dakota people in Minnesota by reducing the sizes of the respective Minnesota
reservations and by confiscation of privately held property of off-reservation Dakota individuals. Thirty-seven Dakota men were hanged in Mankato. As a result, many Dakota people
left Minnesota for reservations established in South Dakota and elsewhere. Below are brief
overviews of each of the cultural and linguistic groups that altogether conform the Dakota
Sioux speakers.
Dakota (Santee)
The Eastern Dakota were sometimes called Santee Dakota or Santee Sioux or just Santee. The
word Santee derives from an earlier term Isantee or Isatis, which referred to the villages of
Mille Lacs (Winchell 1911). Abundant archaeological information exists for a prehistoric occupation of this area, and there is increasing evidence of continuity between a late prehistoric
population and the historically known Dakota. Investigations in the Mille Lacs region and
particularly along the Rum River have uncovered such evidence of continuity. The protohistoric component of Mille Lacs sites is represented by the Sandy Lake Ware which, according
to Cooper and Johnson (1964), succeeded the late Woodland Kathio and Blackduck phases in
central and northern Minnesota. Birk and Johnson (1992) documented several sites in the
Mille Lacs region, including the Cooper Mound, Vineland Bay, and Wilford Site, among others, where the protohistoric component was clear enough to warrant the definition of the
Bradbury Phase.
The Bradbury Phase includes Mdewakanton Dakota materials in habitation sites, often mixed
with small numbers of French period artifacts. Evidence indicates continuity in settlement
patterns and subsistence practices from the preceding periods. However, the overall archaeological record of this phase would not fit strictly as Woodland, Oneota, or Mississippian but
as a unique lakeshore adaptation developing from the Kathio antecedent (Birk and Johnson
1992:209). Gibbon (2003:27) offers the term Psinomani to refer to the prehistoric ancestors of
the Dakota speakers. In his model of Siouan prehistory, Gibbon carefully weighs linguistic,
archaeological, and biological evidence to offer a possible ethnogenetic trajectory for the Dakota Siouan speakers. He sees the development of the Psinomani out of Woodland cultures
but strongly influenced by a tribalization process, which probably emerged in opposition to
aggressive Mississippian behaviors and which involved variously organized groups including
eastern Oneota (historic Winnebago), western Oneota (historic Ioway and Oto primarily), and
Psinomani. Importantly, Gibbon (2003:42) notes that, while there is an Oneota element in
Psinomani culture (likely a result of emulation) but that differences outweigh similarities with
the “true” Oneota groups. He furthermore notes that it is very unlikely that the Dakota, Lakota, and Yankton-Yanktonai existed as separate cultural or political entities in prehistoric
times, and that the expansion trend toward the prairies likely post-dates A.D. 1500.
During the historic period four main bands of the eastern Dakota lived throughout central
Minnesota with villages around Mille Lacs Lake, and villages as far north as Leech Lake and
Red Lake. They ranged east through the St. Croix River Valley and south to the Minnesota
River and the Mississippi River. From the early fur trading days the four major eastern bands
were the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, and the Sisseton. Each band consisted of
families that had areas of steady use. These bands had similar economic and subsistence patterns. Parts of their subsistence patterns reflect their woodland history while other patterns
reflected some of the strategies employed by their plains neighbors. This Dakota subsistence
strategy, semi-sedentary but dependent upon the availability of extensive hunting grounds,
continued into the nineteenth century along the Lower St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, even
after the Dakota retreated from the Mille Lacs area after 1720.
Wild rice and maple were important plant food resources. When maize agriculture was introduced to the Dakota, they raised corn in small gardens and tobacco (von Gernet 2000:67).
Wild food resources were also collected in season such as raspberries, choke cherries, blue
berries, wild spinach, and wild potato. Elk and deer were hunted for food, hide, and for bone
and antler tools. Eastern Dakota people also hunted buffalo in the summer months. Before
buffalo populations were decimated, buffalo herds existed in much of western and southern
Minnesota. Mdewakanton Dakota consultants participating in an ethnographic resource assessment for the St. Croix River National Scenic Riverway mentioned that there were once
woodland buffalo that were smaller than their plains relatives (Zedeño et al. 2001); these were
also hunted for food, bone tools, hide for clothing and various other cultural uses.
Many lakes and waterways in Minnesota and western Wisconsin were important habitats for
wild rice (Hoffman 1896). In the early to mid autumn eastern Dakota families would separate
from larger villages and retire to wild ricing camps to harvest the rice. Dakota consultants also
mentioned that they would never take all of the rice from the stalks, so as to ensure that some
grains would fall back into the water to seed the next year’s harvest. Also it was not unheard
of for Dakota people to take handfuls of grains and throw them over the water. Rice was
pounded and threshed. Wild rice was also stored in caches. In the late fall and winter Dakota
would begin their winter hunting and trapping. In the spring Dakota families would move into
the maple woods to tap the trees for sap, boiling down the sap eventually to make solid pieces
of sugar. Before the advent of kettles and pots, sap was collected in boxes made from birch
bark, and the sap was boiled in hollowed out logs. In the spring the Dakota would also being
their planting. In late spring early summer, the Dakota would commence the summer buffalo
hunt. After returning to their villages in the late summer and early fall they would harvest
their crops and harvest late summer berry crops (Robinson 1956; see review by Zedeño et al.
The introduction of new actors on the historical stage led to changes in the culture and geography of indigenous people all over the continent. The Dakota were no exception. With the
Iroquois and Algonquian struggles and wars intensifying in eastern North America, many
groups of people were displaced. Add to this the colonial endeavors of Europeans states such
as France, England, and Spain, further disruption and change occurred. Algonquian groups
began to move westward. This put pressure upon western groups causing them to push westward also. Groups and bands of Ojibwa, Algonquian speakers, had been living around the
Great Lakes. In their push westward some Ojibwa bands would clash with the Dakota in present day Minnesota and Wisconsin. At other times, they formed fragile alliances that were
quickly eroded by the competition for trading partnerships (Anderson 1984; Hickerson 1974;
Tanner 1987).
The first trading post specifically by the French for the Dakota was built by Perrot at Lake
Pepin on the Mississippi River in 1686 (Wedel 1974). Le Sueur became the next major
French trader with the Dakota at Lake Pepin, until he established a new post at Prairie Island
in the Mississippi just downstream from the mouth of the St. Croix River in 1695. Le Sueur
established Fort l’Huillier in 1700 on the Blue Earth River near its joining the Minnesota
River, abandoning the post in 1702. DeMallie (2001a:721-722) points out that the Sioux were
without French trading partners until 1727 when two Jesuits founded Fort Beauharnois on
Lake Pepin. As tensions and struggles between the Sioux and the Ojibwa and between the
Sioux and the Cree increased and with the French attempting the have good relations with all
of these groups, Fort Beauharnois was abandoned in 1737. The rest of the eighteenth century
was marked by further conflicts with the Ojibwa and the Cree. Moreover, all Dakota groups
moved westward. The eastern Dakota groups were pushed westward by the Ojibwa and were
pulled by the buffalo herds which receded westward. The westernmost Dakota speakers (Lakota) continued their expansion westward following the bison herds.
The English began trading in the region from their post at fort Michilimackinac after 1763.
Peter Pond traded with the Sioux on the Minnesota River and at Prairie du Chein. With English influence Pond brought Dakota and Ojibwa chiefs to Michilimackinac in 1775 to negotiate a peace treaty, thus establishing as a boundary between them, the Mississippi River, with
the Ojibwa to remain east of the river and the Dakota to take the area west of the river (DeMallie 2001a:727). Thereafter, the Mdewakanton settled on the Mississippi River and lower
Minnesota River. The Wahpeton settled on the Minnesota River above the Blue Earth and the
Sisseton moved to the area of Lake Traverse and Big Stoney Lake on the Minnesota River.
The Wahpekute moved to the Cannon River near Traverse des Sioux. DeMallie (2001a:728729) also says “the locations of these groups, and many of their village sites, remained relatively stable from the 1760s until 1851, when, by treaty, the Santee sold most of their lands to
the United States.”
Traders were also moving west. In the west traders found new markets with the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa by exploring the Missouri River and its tributaries (Wood 1980; Wood and
Thiessen 1985). Wood (1980) notes that the Dakota held a secondary trading rendezvous that
converged every May on the James River in the late 1700s. Santee, Yankton and Yanktonai
came to trade with the Teton. Ewers (1954) lists specifically as a trade item from the eastern
Dakota groups catlinite pipes, and from the Teton horses and buffalo robes.
The Santee appear to have become a culturally distinct group sometime in the late eighteenth
or early nineteenth century. The Mdewakanton and parts of the Wahpeton and Wahpekute,
who remained in the east near the Mississippi River and the lower Minnesota Rivers, continued to harvest wild rice practice horticulture. The Mdewakanton remained much like their
woodland neighbors the Ojibwa, retaining canoes, wild rice and crops like corn and tobacco
(Robinson 1956). The Sisseton, who settled up the Minnesota River on the Minnesota prairies, developed culturally like their western neighbors the Yankton and Yanktonai, relying
more heavily on the bison herds and the use of horses than on horticulture and plant gathering.
As the political and military contests of the colonial powers continued ceaselessly through
this period, indigenous people tolerated many changes in traders, economic advantages and
disadvantages in dealing with Europeans, and eventually the settling of their lands by Euroamericans soon after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. President Jefferson was eager to explore, survey, and settle the newly purchased lands, whose vastness, dangers, and riches had
to be learned and understood. Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to head the Corps of
Discovery that would explore the vast unknown country and open a passage to the Pacific
Ocean. The expedition began in 1804 and lasted two years. Thereafter, the United States
commenced a period of diplomatic relations with many Native American groups, including
the writing and signing of treaties with various Native nations.
Lewis and Clark met with Yankton, Yanktonai, and Teton Dakota people on the Missouri
River. In 1805, Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike led an American military expedition to the upper Mississippi headwaters to establish relations with Indians in the territory and to secure the
area for American traders that were being threatened by remaining British economic and political interests (Coues 1895). Pike signed the first treaty with the Mdewakanton. This treaty
provided for two small parcels of land for American military posts. One post built in 1819 at
the confluence of the Minnesota and the Mississippi Rivers, first called Fort Saint Anthony
due to its proximity to the Falls of Saint Anthony on the Minnesota River, became Ft Snelling. Lawrence Taliaferro became the first Sioux Indian Agent there. With the American presence in the middle of Dakota land, British influence came to an end and Dakota “interests became increasingly subordinate to … the United States” (Albers 2001a:673).
During the War of 1812 many Dakota, especially Santee, continued their alliances with Britain against the U. S. Many Western Sioux groups did not fight against the United States.
American treaty making with the Sioux began on July 19, 1815, after the end of the War of
1812 and before the founding of Ft. Snelling. But those first four treaties, known as the Treaties of St. Louis, were not extremely significant in that very few Sioux leaders attended the
council. These treaties mainly established a general peace between the Sioux and the U. S.
(Anderson 1984:92). There were other treaties later, as the aforementioned Prairie du Chien
treaty in 1825. The next major treaty was the treaty of 1837, negotiated in Washington D.C.,
which extinguished the title of the Mdewakanton Sioux to lands east of the Mississippi in
Minnesota and Wisconsin (Hickerson 1974:242). In return the United States promised payment for the land, annuities in perpetuity, and other benefits for the cession. On the whole the
Dakota felt that they did not receive as much as the worth of the land. Almost immediately
settlers and timber companies entered the region, depleting resources and reducing the Dakota
to starvation and destitution by the 1840s (Albers 2001b:770-769). Conditions steadily declined. In 1851 the Santee bands signed the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and the Treaty of
Mendota. These treaties ceded all Santee territorial holdings in Minnesota and Dakota Territory. The Santee were to receive a reservation encompassing the upper Minnesota River,
however; they were forced into another treaty that reduced their reservation by half.
Conditions continued to deteriorate. Annuities were pillaged by traders to pay off the debts of
Dakotas who had been reduced to utter dependency upon credit in the trader’s posts. The land
base was further eroded. Game disappeared. Crops failed. Relief did not exist. Some Dakota
people resorted to raiding white settlements to survive. This led to conflict. In 1862, some
Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Dakota raided settlements and killed settlers. American retaliation resulted in the killing of many Dakota in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory. Many Santee, even those that had nothing to do with the conflict fled Minnesota to live with other
Yankton, Yanktonai, and Lakota people. Finally, under pressure from settlers in Minnesota,
Congress abrogated all treaties with the Dakota. Thereafter Dakota people were actively removed from Minnesota (Albers 2001b:770-771).
Mdewakanton and Wahpekute people that were imprisoned at Fort Snelling and Mankato
were repeatedly relocated to Crow Creek on the Missouri River, then to a place on the Niobrara River in Nebraska, and then to land the became the Santee Reservation in Nebraska on
the Missouri River. Some of these Dakota moved to what became the Flandreau Agency in
South Dakota in 1869. In 1867 some Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota made a treaty with the
United States and were established on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota and the
Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota. Other Santee that had joined the Lakota, Yankton or Yanktonai ended up on the reservations that were eventually established for these
groups of Sioux. Still other Santee escaped to Canada and were eventually established on reserves in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan. A remnant of Dakota people stayed in Minnesota.
Other Dakota returning to Minnesota joined those that remained and established small communities that received recognition from the government. These communities became the
small reservations of Upper Sioux at Granite Falls, Lower Sioux at Morton, Shakopee and
Prairie Island (Albers 2001b:772).
The Pipe in Dakota Culture
Mary Eastman, while living among Dakota people near Ft. Snelling, became one of the earliest American recorders of Dakota legends and aspects of Dakota religious practice. Her book
Dahcotah; or Life and Legends of the Sioux was published in 1849. One of her first observations about Dakota use of the pipe was in the formal request for the services of a native doctor, healer or medicine man. The supplicant entered the home of the medicine man or woman,
and offered to the medicine person a filled pipe and a payment of some kind. The Doctor received the pipe that was sent by the messenger of the family, smoked it and proceeded to the
home of the patient (M. Eastman [1849] 1962:xxii-xxiii). Here the pipe appeared to be used as
an offering encouraging and entreating the assistance of the healing practitioner. The smoked
pipe acted as a sign that the doctor accepted the invitation to heal the sick person and symbolically and ritually initiated the healing process.
Dorsey listed the act of “holding the pipe with the mouthpiece toward the power invoked” and
“the use of smoke from the pipe or the odor of burning cedar” as a method of prayer common
to all Dakota and Assiniboin; (Dorsey 1894:435). As mentioned elsewhere in this volume,
George Catlin recorded several traditions about the origin of the pipe and the pipestone. Catlin
ascribed the following tradition to the “Sioux of the Upper Mississippi”. This tradition says
that ages after the creation of the so-called red men, as all tribes were constantly at war with
each other, the Great Spirit sent runners out to all the tribes to summon them to the site of the
present pipestone quarry. The Great Spirit took the red stone from rock and made a large pipe.
Then the Great Spirit smoked the pipe over all the people assembled. The Spirit also,
“told them that the stone was part of their flesh; that though they were at war,
they must meet at this place as friends; that it belonged to them all; told them
that they must make their calumets from it and smoke them to [Great Spirit]
whenever they wished to appease him or get his good-will” (Catlin 1973,
At the last whiff, the Great Spirit disappeared into the rising smoke, fire rolled out over the
rocks and glazed them, and two women “went in a blaze of fire under the two medicine rocks,
where they remain to this day, and must be consulted and propitiated whenever the pipe stone
is to be taken away.” In this legend one may see the making of the pipe itself, institution of
the peace of the pipestone quarry, meaning the there should be no warfare near the quarry,
and the vow and promise of the Great Spirit to listen and to respond to the pipe if smoked in
prayer and that the pipe is a powerful link between the people and the highest mysteries of the
world. By the direction and creation of the Great Spirit, the pipe is integrated and functional
in a distinctly Dakota and in many respects a pan-Indian context. A significant historical observation made by Springer (1981:221) is that the institution of peace at the pipestone quarry
was not unique to the Minnesota quarry, but was also in place among the tribes who know and
used the Wisconsin quarry and a quarry near the Missouri River. A purported eyewitness account by John T. de la Ronde, dating to the 1840s, describes enemies peacefully quarrying
stone side-by-side in Wisconsin (Ronde 1876, in Thiessen, review comments 2003).
As mentioned before, the pipe is used to supplicate spiritual beings and sacred powers, it is
used to request the assistance of medicine people and religious practitioners, but it is also used
to enlist the help or seek the advice of the so called “War Prophet”. According to Dorsey, this
war prophet is a wakan man, a medicine man with special power or medicine concerning war.
As most Dakota males were considered to be warriors, by Dorsey’s account, it was important
to receive their weapons and paint blessed by the war prophet. To request the favor of this
type of investiture, the pipe was presented to the war prophet by the young man who wished
to receive weapons and paint after ritual purification in the sweat bath (Dorsey 1894:444).
Yankton are mainly grouped as Yankton and Yanktonai “Little Yankton.” The Yankton
(Yankton and Yanktonai) also called the Nakota by J. O. Dorsey, like other Dakota bands
have their origins in the woodlands. Over the course of time the Yankton and the Yanktonai
moved their areas of use and habitation westward and slightly southward from the Minnesota
woodlands and lake lands. Prior to this movement the Yankton Dakota ranged into the prairies and plains to hunt bison. Like other Dakota bands, they exploited various methods of subsistence including hunting, collection of plants for food and for medicine, limited gardening
and cultivation, and fishing in the many accessible rivers and lakes. Dakota people in general
used several ecosystems throughout the year including woodlands, riparian, lacustrine, and
prairie. Since the Yankton or Middle Dakota or Middle Sioux could easily adapt to new
homes as they moved westward from Minnesota, their westward migration was not very difficult (Hoover and Bruguier 1988).
Yankton and Yanktonai dialects are mutually intelligible and vary slightly from the other
cognate languages, which indicate a late split (likely post AD 1500) from the eastern Dakota
speakers. DeMallie (2001b:778) maps a wide territory for the Yankton and Yanktonai in the
nineteenth century, at the peak of Yankton power before conflicts with the United States reduced the Yankton Dakota and many other indigenous cultural groups. In the mid-nineteenth
century the Yankton and Yanktonai lived and ranged over the prairies between the Missouri
River and the Red River, encompassing eastern North and South Dakota, northward beyond
Devil’s Lake and southward to the confluences of the James and the Missouri Rivers and of
the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers at Sioux City, Iowa. This region includes the Coteau des
Prairies and the red pipestone quarry, what is now Pipestone National Monument. There is no
archaeological or physical evidence that ties the Yankton to prehistoric inhabitants of the Prairie Lakes subregion where the monument is located, or to northwest Iowa sites occupied by
protohistoric Oneota groups (Alex 2000; Gibbon 1983, 2003; Glenn 1974; Wedel 1981,
1986). This lack of evidence, combined with colonial-period documents, may be taken together to suggest that the geographical proximity of this group to the monument is a product
of historic processes and events.
As mentioned previously, the sixteenth and seventeenth century French documents do not distinguish the divisions of Teton, Yankton and Santee Dakota. Instead, the division of reference
is that of geography, the Sioux of the East and the Sioux of the West, the latter sometimes
used to refer to Chiwere speakers as well (Wedel 1986). The Yankton would be part of the
Sioux of the West (DeMallie 2001a:722). Le Sueur describes the Sioux of the West, which
ostensibly includes the Teton and Yankton bands, as living by the hunt, roamers of the prairie
with no need of the canoe, and practicing neither horticulture nor wild rice harvesting.
Champe claims that “it seems reasonable to conclude that by 1700 the Yankton were established at the Pipestone Quarry, only a few miles east of the Big Sioux River, and were hunting
in the prairies from that point to the Missouri River on West” (Champe 1974:261). Howard
concurs that the Yankton were living west of the Mississippi by the late seventeenth century
and certainly before 1700 (Howard 1972:283, 1976). Also, Le Sueur list Dakota bands, one of
which is a band of the Sioux of the West named “Hinhanetons – Village of the Red Pipestone
Quarry” (Champe 1974:261; Woolworth 1974:27; Howard 1972:283).
Hurt also interpreting both Hennepin’s and Le Sueur’s maps, indicates that the Yankton Dakota had migrated from their woodland homeland northeast of Mille Lacs Lake and then established themselves near the pipestone quarry near the Big Sioux River (Hurt 1974:77).
However, Wedel (1981, 1986) translation of the original Le Sueur documents as well as her
intimate knowledge of the protohistoric archaeological record of the region indicates that this
group may have been established west of the Mississippi by 1700, but not west of the Minnesota River until at least one or two decades later. At any rate, there was recognition on the part
of the Sioux, according to Le Sueur’s account, that the land to the west of the confluence of
the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers belonged a that time to the Ioway, and oral traditions of
the Dakota, Ioway, and Omaha, cited elsewhere in this volume, confirm Wedel’s interpretation of this account.
By the mid-eighteenth century the Yankton and Yanktonai groups lived throughout the Coteau des Prairies between the James and Minnesota rivers and west to the Missouri River.
They also lived around the lower Sioux River and the headwaters of the Little Sioux and Des
Moines rivers. Champe cites Tabeau recording that some Yankton were hunting at the mouth
of the Grand River and hunted in the territory of the St. Peter’s (Minnesota) River. Tabeau
also noted a band of Yankton who lived on the James River and hunted beaver on the Des
Moines River, and the east bank of the Missouri River (Champe 1974:268; Howard
1972:286). As Yankton and Yanktonai people moved westward they came into contact with
Missouri River tribes such as the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa. Just as the Santee shared cultural and economic similarities with their woodland neighbors, so too did the Yankton and
Yanktonai share some cultural and economic traits with their neighbors. Howard notes that
the Yankton eventually displacing the Arikara and some of the Ponca, “took over virtually
intact the seasonal economic and settlement patterns characteristic of riverine groups” (Howard 1972:303). But they accomplished more than cultural assimilation; both the Yankton and
the Teton, aided by the horse, quickly expanded toward the upper Missouri River, and by the
end of the eighteenth century they had gained enormous military advantage over Plains
groups; they were not simply “playing the game of war” but attacking the Mandan en masse
and burning their villages (Bruner 1961). They continued this trend until the Mandan were
practically decimated by war and plague.
When Lewis and Clark ventured into the area, they reported that the Yanktonai had no agriculture and were at peace with the Arikara, while being at war with Assiniboin, Cree, Plains
Ojibwa and Mandan. The Yankton were at peace with the Omaha and Ponca but warred with
the Arikara, and that they were engaged with trade on the Des Moines River. They also observed that the Yankton and Yanktonai traded on the James River. Lewis and Clark met with
Yankton, Yanktonai, and Lakota peoples in 1804 during their famous expedition after the
Louisiana Purchase of 1803 (DeMallie 2001a:731, 733). During this expedition in 1804 Lewis
and Clark observed the Yankton inhabiting the area north of the Missouri River above the
Floyd River and below the James River (Champe 1974:271).
After the War of 1812 the Yankton were one of the groups to sign treaties of peace and
friendship with the United States at Portage des Sioux in 1816. In 1825 Yankton and Yanktonai and Lakota people sign treaties with General Henry Atkinson and Indian Agent Benjamin O’Fallon. These peace and friendship treaties were written to have the Sioux acknowledge the supremacy of the United States and to recognize that the Sioux lived within the
United States (DeMallie 2001a:733). According to Samuel W. Pond, some Yankton still lived
in Minnesota in 1834 along with Sisseton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute and Mdewakanton Dakota
peoples. Though Pond recognized that there were a great number of Dakota west beyond the
border of Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains, Pond reserved his description to those Dakota
within the present state boundaries. These Yankton lived around Lake Traverse on the Minnesota River. Pond estimated the Yankton population in Minnesota at one thousand (S. W. Pond
Yankton representatives signed the Treaty of Prairie du Chien for intertribal peace along with
representatives from the Santee, Omaha, Iowa, Oto, Missouria, Sauk and Fox. Treaties in
1836 and 1837 further eroded Santee and Yankton lands (DeMallie 2001a:734). The 1837
treaty ceded all Yankton claims to land in what is now Iowa (Woolworth 1974:117). DeMallie
(2001b:777) also states that the Yankton and Yanktonai by the mid-nineteenth century hunted
west of the Missouri River with Lakota at times. Woolworth characterizes the period of 18451850 as a time when game became exceedingly scarce between the Missouri and Minnesota
rivers, thus, causing great hardship for Yankton and Santee Dakota that occupied this region.
Another treaty was signed by a Yankton chief along with other Teton chiefs at Fort Laramie
in 1851. This treaty defined the lands of the Sioux. There had been no Yankton representation
of the other 1851 treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, which regarded Santee Dakota
land holdings in Minnesota (Woolworth 1974:153-158).
As game was depleted east of the Missouri River, and as the buffalo receded further west,
many Yankton were hunting buffalo west of the Missouri River in 1853, where cholera
plagued the Yankton (Woolworth 1974:160). During this period also, white settlement pressure increased in the region and threatened Santee, Yankton, and Yanktonai peoples. The
Yankton began to think about ceding lands to the United States. The government also pressured the Yankton to cede lands. Yankton land cessions west of Minnesota began in 1858.
There were several bands of Yankton Dakota. In the literature, the Yankton were divided into
Upper Yankton and Lower Yankton. The Lower Yankton were the first to succumb to government pressure to cede lands in exchange for a reservation.
Struck by the Ree and Charles Picotte made a delegation to Washington D. C. in order to negotiate with the government. The Upper Yankton did not support Struck by the Ree’s decision
to make a treaty of land cession with the government. In April of 1858 they signed a treaty
which ceded all Yankton land except the land for a Yankton reservation. This treaty as most
treaties of this period was not accepted by all members of the tribe. Other Yankton band leaders opposed the sale of land to the government (DeMallie 2001b:779). Moreover the Lakota
were deeply angered with the Yankton cession of lands over which the Lakota felt they still
retained title (White 1978:342).
The Dakota generally functioned as independent local bands. The Lakota were angered by the
sale of lands to the United States. One chief declared that the Yankton would not be allowed
to settle in Lakota lands if they sold their lands to the whites (Woolworth 1974:182). Moreover the Lakota when they met with American officials claimed that the lands ceded by the
Yankton did not belong to the Yankton exclusively but to all Dakota peoples, thereby denying
the sole authority of the Yankton to cede the lands they occupied (Woolworth 1974:186;
White 1978:342). On the other hand, the United States government treated the leaders who
signed treaties as the authorities for the whole tribe, even if they knew that a particular chief
could not speak for a whole ethnic group. Because of this, the United States felt fully justified
in demanding its own rights without fully recognizing the rights of the indigenous people, a
behavior that continues to this day.
At the time of the 1858 treaty negotiations, the United States government recognized Struck
by the Ree as the head chief of the Yankton. Struck by the Ree recognized the importance of
the pipestone quarry and strenuously fought to keep the quarry open to Yankton access (Corbett 1978:101). Thus began a century long struggle for the Yankton to preserve the sanctity of
the quarry and its environs and to preserve the aboriginal and indigenous access to the quarry.
The Yankton bands (but not all Yankton people) were settling on their reservation on the Missouri River above the mouth of the Niobrara River after 1858 with the usual problems of adjusting to the Christian agrarian social norms enforced upon them by their agents. In the beginning there were still hunts. Later as hunting became more difficult and crops failed, the
Yankton were faced with typical reservation troubles; not enough support from the government and not enough hunting opportunity to support themselves.
Though the Yanktonai did not sign the 1851 treaties, the Indian agent Vaughn distributed
goods to some Yanktonai bands. DeMallie mentions one excursion in particular by Vaughn to
Little Soldier’s band of Upper Yanktonai, who had made a village on the right back of the
Missouri River near present site of Pollock, South Dakota. Vaughn reported that these Yanktonai had attempted to grow corn. The following year he visited and found further up the Missouri Two Bears’s band of Lower Yanktonai (DeMallie 2001b:780).
In 1856 at Fort Pierre, Missouri River Sioux chiefs were summoned to council and treat for
peace between the tribes and the United States. However, tensions were soon to flair as settlement, White encroachment, and steamboat traffic on the Missouri disrupted Sioux life.
Tensions exploded in Minnesota in the Sioux Uprising of 1862. Military and civilian forces
ruthlessly sought vengeance on the Sioux regardless of participation in the uprising. All Sioux
in Minnesota were suspect and therefore targets. As fleeing Sioux left Minnesota and entered
into the lands of their relatives the Yankton and Teton, the military continued their pursuit and
killing. American generals Sibley and Sully lead army forces against the Sioux, Sibley from
Minnesota, Sully by ascending the Missouri River. Sully’s forces fought through the summer
of 1864, pursuing the fleeing Santee from Minnesota. At Killdeer Mountain near the Little
Missouri River in North Dakota Sully killed many Yanktonai and Teton who had nothing to
do with the uprising (DeMallie 2001b:781).
After the conflict between the Sioux and the United States, Peace Commissions were established from 1865 to 1868. The United States government made treaties with all Teton and
Yanktonai bands on the Missouri River. Though the intent of these treaties were for establish
peace in the region, many Sioux protested the provisions of the treaty which favored the
United States and its colonial interests. Nonetheless the U. S. Senate ratified the treaties into
law. The 1868 treaty established the Great Sioux Reservation as South Dakota west of the
Missouri River. All other lands in North Dakota and South Dakota, not previously reserved,
was ceded to the United States. The government established the Crow Creek Reservation and
settled many Yanktonai there. Crow Creek began in 1863 as Fort Thompson to manage Santee from Minnesota. When the Santee were moved to Nebraska in 1866, Fort Thompson became the Upper Missouri Agency, and thereafter the Crow Creek Reservation east of the Missouri River and Lower Brule Reservation west of the Missouri. The east side was assigned to
the Lower Yanktonai, and the west side was assigned to the Lower Brule (Sicangu Lakota).
While Bone Necklace’s band of Lower Yanktonai settled at Crow Creek, Two Bear’s band of
Lower Yanktonai settled at Grand River Agency (what became Standing Rock Reservation
when the Great Sioux Reservation was dismantled) by 1868. All Over Black and Big Head
led their respective bands to settlement at the Grand River Agency in 1869 (DeMallie
Thought the American government had wanted to contain all Sioux people into a relatively
small area by creating the “Great Sioux Reservation”, not all Sioux people wanted to live in
western South Dakota. More significantly, not all Sioux people wanted to live in such close
proximity with all the other Sioux bands that were encouraged to settle on the Great Sioux
Reservation. Some Sioux who were still following the bison herds roamed into Montana Territory. More than a thousand Yanktonai ventured to Ft. Buford on the Missouri River just near
the present border between North Dakota and Montana in the fall of 1869. These Sioux told
the commanding officer of the fort that they wished to receive annuities and that they were
not yet bound by a treaty. DeMallie lists the chiefs that went to Ft. Buford and negotiated with
Lt. Col. Morrow; Medicine Bear, Thunder Bull, and His Road to Travel of the Cuthead Yanktonai, Shoots the Tiger, Afraid of Man, Catches the Enemy, and Heart of the Wazikute Yanktonai, Calumet Man, Afraid of Bull, Long Fox Eagle Dog and Standing Bellow of the Thakini
Yanktonai, and Brave Bear and Your Relation to the Earth of Sisseton Dakota (DeMallie
The Yanktonai population more than doubled the following summer. In 1870 Black Eye’s
band of Lower Yanktonai came to the region, encamping at the mouth of the Poplar River in
present day Montana, upstream from Ft. Buford. 1n 1871 there were also 250 lodges of Yanktonai, Yankton, Teton, and Santee Dakota encamped downstream from the Milk River
Agency, which was the agency for the Gros Ventre and the Assiniboin. This collection of
Sioux and Assiniboin became the Fort Peck Reservation in 1874 (DeMallie 2001b:787).
However, definite boundaries were not set until 1888, which included cession of all claims to
land outside the reservation boundaries for the Yanktonai, Yankton, and Assiniboin who lived
As mentioned above the Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota reservations were established as the
Devil’s Lake Reservation and the Lake Traverse Reservation. Cuthead Yanktonai (a division
of the Upper Yanktonai) wishing to join the Sisseton and Wahpeton at Devil’s Lake traveled
there looking for rations. There were not enough resources for all present. Many Cuthead
Yanktonai also did not want to settle on the reservation but preferred to roam over the territory. Eventually Cuthead Yanktonai settled on the western side of Devil’s Lake Reservation
after 1874 (DeMallie 2001b:784).
Drifting Goose led a band of Lower Yanktonai that remained on the James River, refusing to
enter a reservation, due to their refusal to sign any of the cession treaties though in the eyes of
the government, their lands were ceded. This group occupied an Executive Order reservation
from 1879-1880. The land was full of settlers. The army refused to remove them. Drifting
Goose eventually led his people to settle at Crow Creek in 1880 (DeMallie 2001b:782-783).
The Pipestone Quarry and Yankton History
In agreement with archaeological, linguistic, physical, written historic, and oral historic evidence, Catlin in his letters records that other Native Americans that he met in his journey
claimed that the Sioux did not always possess the area of the sacred pipestone, but that they
had forced other tribes away from the quarry and claimed it for themselves. This was done,
Catlin’s informants said, at the encouragement of the Whites. This take-over angered other
tribes as the ground was previously sacred and peacefully neutral, appointed by the Great
Spirit to be used to make pipes for peace for all nations, not just for the Sioux. Catlin recorded
such complaints about Sioux occupancy of the pipestone quarry by a Chief of the Sac, a Chief
of the Ponca and a Mandan (Catlin 1973, II:169-171).
When the pipestone quarry came to attention of American interests, the Yankton had already
been established there for over a century. When treaty negotiations began between the United
States and the various bands of the Dakota people, it would be a band of the Yankton led by
Chief Struck by the Ree that made the quarry and its environs the subject of negotiation and
concern in legal discourse. According to Corbett, the Sisseton bands of Dakota, who in Nicol96
let’s times lived the closest to the quarry, failed to secure rights to the quarry in their cession
treaties with the United States in 1851 at Traverse des Sioux and at Mendota (Corbett
1978:101). It is the present author’s opinion that the importance of the quarry was not forgotten by these bands, but rather, the Sisseton had little idea of how intense the pressure of White
settlement would become and that American law could hinder their access to so holy a site.
In 1857 Struck by the Ree went to Washington D. C. to negotiate with the federal government. Struck by the Ree would not sign the drafted treaty without securing Yankton access to
the pipestone quarry. The 1858 treaty, ratified by Congress in 1859 set aside a reserve for the
pipestone quarry to be one mile square centered on the Nicollet rock. Corbett mentions that
American settlement of Minnesota and the region of the quarry did not begin in earnest until
the 1870’s. The 1870 survey of Minnesota “divided the region into townships and sections.
Settlers began to file claims of land within the boundaries of the reserve. First to do so was
Henry Davis whose claim was eventually canceled. But in May 1874 [August] Clausen received a patent for land within the pipestone reservation” (Corbett 1978:102).
As the new town of Pipestone City grew, settlers sought stone for building. Workman began
to mine the quarry for quartzite to build Pipestone City. The Yankton protested. Though their
complaints went through the appropriate channel, their agent, nothing was done to remove
settlers from the reserve or to stop workmen from mining building material. A man, Herbert
M. Carpenter had bought the Clausen’s patent of land on the reserve. He refused to surrender
the patent. He filed his case with the United States Circuit Court of Minnesota who ruled in
his favor. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court. (Corbett1978:103). More settlers
built homes on the reserve, some squatted as they had no title to the land. Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller refused to remove the white settlers from the quarry. A few months later
the Supreme Court decided that the reserve was removed from the possibility of private ownership and settlement. However, the squatters remained, and more people settled on the reserve. In October 1887, a force from Fort Randall evicted the squatters from the reserve (Corbett 1978:104-105).
Settlers and squatters were not the only problems to plague the Pipestone reserve. The Cedar
Rapids, Iowa Falls, and Northwestern Railroad laid tracks through the reserve circa 1884 taking a right of way one hundred feet wide and a mile long. The Yanktons could not remove the
railway, so they settled, in 1889, with the railroad to purchase just the right of way and not the
whole reserve. This sum of money was distributed among adult men of the Yankton tribe. But
the Yankton received no rest in their struggle to retain the sacred pipestone quarry. In February 1891 a bill passed that established an Indian school on the pipestone reserve. To the Yankton this was just another threat to their access to the quarry. The Yanktons sought to have an
unequivocal decision bearing upon the title of the land, which of course the Yankton believed,
they held. Eventually, the Yankton, in 1899 “approved a $100,000 settlement for the Minnesota quarry lands…” and “…retained sole right to quarry pipestone” (Corbett 1978:112).
However, this would not be the end of the case.
It was not until a Supreme Court decision in November 1926 that the question of title to the
reserve was settled. The high court decided that the Yanktons did indeed hold title to the
quarry lands and that they were entitled to just compensation. According to Corbett this decision resulted in $296,835.90 to be paid per capita to the Yankton; it encouraged the Yanktons
to file other claims; and the right of the Yanktons and by inference all Indians to use the pipestone quarry was upheld (Corbett 1978:115-116; U.S. Supreme Court No. 836, 1925-1927).
The pipestone quarry was and is a holy place for the Yankton and for other groups of indigenous people. Corbett interprets the long struggle of the Yankton to preserve their right to the
land as indicative of their commitment to their religious beliefs. As to the use of the pipe, it is
reasonable to infer that its importance among the Yankton would be reflected in its importance among their Dakota and Lakota relatives. The pipe is used to make peace between
groups of people, individuals and tribes. The pipe is the instrument par excellence of prayer. It
is the instrument of offering sacred smoke (tobacco, other herbs and mixtures thereof). The
Yankton like other Dakota would leave tobacco offerings to the Guardians (the Three Maidens) in order to mine the sacred pipestone. And before doing this they must ritually purify
themselves in the ritual sweat bath. The pipe itself may be smoked after this ritual cleansing.
Hoover and Bruguier (1988:48-51) recounts a very brief summary of the visit of White Buffalo Calf Woman to the people. Included in his book about Yankton people, the authors include a photograph of a Yankton sweat lodge near the pipestone quarry used to purify a person before going to the quarry to get pipestone.
Hughes interviewed Yankton consultants about the pipestone and the quarry which he incorporated into a report submitted to the National Park Service in 1995. He recorded a range of
responses from his consultants regarding the antiquity of the sacred pipe and the use of the
pipestone. As to the antiquity of the Yankton use of the pipestone for making sacred pipes,
one response, which Hughes claims as the most common attitude among the Yankton is that
the use of the pipe has been “effectively forever” (Hughes 1995:30). Another response
Hughes received stated that it had been nineteen generations since the pipe was given to them,
so that would be an origin for the sacred pipe in the early part of the seventeenth century. Yet
another respondent placed the beginning of pipe use to be 10 to 12 thousand years ago
(Hughes 1995:30-31). Hughes recorded other beliefs concerning the pipe and the pipestone.
For example the pipe should not be sold for money. The pipestone should not be used for
making trinkets, curios, or other non-sacred objects, though it may have occurred in the past.
Though the pipestone and the pipes that are made form the stone should be respected, the
question of who can use or possess a pipe is only of secondary importance. Respect and
proper use is of primary importance. Recent Yankton interest in the quarries is demonstrated
by the “Run for the Sacred Pipe” events, which were organized for eight years but are now
discontinued (Thiessen, review comments 2003).
James Howard provided the literature with an excellent article on Yankton ethnogeography.
In collaborative research with Ella Deloria in the mid and late 1960s, Howard and Deloria interviewed several Sioux elders, mostly Yankton and collected many Yankton names for geographic features in the area of traditional Yankton occupancy of the eighteenth century
through to the reservation period. Many of the Yankton names collected were names of water
forms and permanent villages. What was interesting about the collected names was their presence in the Nicollet map of the region. Names that appear on the Nicollet map are clearly in
the Dakota language of the Yankton (Nakota) dialect. What interested Howard the most was
the apparent consistency of names on the Nicollet map and the names that Yankton elders still
recalled a few generations later. Villages included what are now Yankton, South Dakota and
Sioux City, Iowa (Howard 1972:296-297).
Howard’s informants remembered names for such major waterways as the James River, the
Big Sioux River and various tributaries thereof, and also the Vermillion River, where they
mined iron for red paint, the Minnesota River, and also tributaries of the Missouri River. All
of Howard’s Yankton informants mentioned and claimed the Minnesota pipestone quarry.
“These quarries are called Canum oke (pipestone quarries) by the Yankton, a few of whom
still visit the quarries each year to mine the precious pipestone” (Howard 1972:302).
Lakota (Teton)
Like their Dakota relatives, the Lakota were also at one time a woodlands people. The Lakota
migrated to and then beyond the prairies to the plains, adapting to their environs. With the addition of the horse to the life and economy of Lakota bands, the classic images of the stereotypical “Indian” on the plains, hunting buffalo and living in hide tipis were born. Of course all
stereotypes hide more than they reveal.
In the earliest European literature regarding the Lakota we see them referred to as the
Nadouesioux (of infinitely different spellings) or when more precision was needed at the time,
the Nadouesioux of the West as opposed to those living east of the Mississippi River. This
distinction is ascribed to Hennepin. At this time in the mid and late seventeenth century the
modern divisions of Santee, Yankton, and Teton were not yet in use; neither the ethnic and
linguistic marker “Lakota”. The term Teton was derived from Tetonwan, which was glossed
as “Prairie Dwellers.” There are seven major bands of the Lakota that have had continuity at
least from the early nineteenth century to the present. These bands are the Oglala, Sicangu or
Brule, Mnikowoju sometimes Minneconju, Itaziptco or Sans Arc, Hunkpapa, Oohenunpa or
Two Kettles, Sihasapa or Blackfeet (Powers 1977:13). Each of these major bands also contains smaller bands. Bands could be as small as a large extended family.
When Father Louis Hennepin was captured by the Sioux in 1680, most likely by Mdewakanton Dakota, he spent time, from April to July in a Dakota village just southeast of Mille Lacs
Lake. Hennepin reported in his memoir the nation of Nadouessans inhabit the neighborhood
of the lake. At this time Hennepin also placed the “Tinthonha which means prairiemen” near
Mille Lacs Lake and the surrounding streams and lakes (Hickerson 1974:53). At this time the
Teton or Lakota still had a strong presence in the Upper Mississippi woodlands, even as they
were known as people of the prairie. It is quite possible that at this time the Teton hunted and
lived for part of the year on the nearby prairies and lived for part of the year in villages near
their Santee relatives. The Santee themselves were also quite mobile at the time. The summers
were used for the annual buffalo hunt. The Santee would then retire to the woods in the winter. The Teton, however, did not maintain a presence in the vicinity of Mille Lacs long into
the historical period. They were already migrating westward following the buffalo as the
Yankton and Yanktonai did also (Howard 1980).
Circa 1702 Delisle’s map places the Teton northeast of “Lac des Tintons” which Champe
identifies as Lake Traverse on the Minnesota River between present day South Dakota and
Minnesota. It is at this time also that the some of the Sioux of the West were established in a
village near the pipestone quarry (Champe 1974:263-264). In the mid-eighteenth century as
the various Sioux bands were moving westward they encountered other tribes including the
Missouri River tribes the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa, in some cases coexisting and in other
cases displacing them. According to DeMallie, smallpox epidemics starting in 1771 until
1781 devastated the Arikara population. Northern Teton groups (Minneconjou and Saone)
took advantage of this demographic change and moved into this area of the Missouri river just
below the Cheyenne River. The Missouri River valley was quite hospitable to the Lakota. The
Lakota would winter in the wooded areas along the river, where the buffalo would also retire.
In the summer the buffalo returned to the prairies, thus the Lakota followed (DeMallie
During the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Lakota and Yanktonai displaced to the south and
west the Omahas, Otos, Cheyennes, Missouris and Ioways, thus taking their lands (White
1978:322). Specifically to the Arikara, who were one time allies coexisting with some Teton
groups when they first advanced to the Missouri River, by 1832, the Arikara being fully displaced from their villages and from the Missouri River, moved south and lived with the Skiri
Pawnee for a time. Then Yanktonai from the Minnesota River moved into the Arikara region
of the Missouri (White 1978:333). The weakening of the river tribes was not by warfare
alone, but also from smallpox and other epidemics that ravaged the Missouri River. Sioux lost
lives too, but not in the proportions of the sedentary, village dwelling Arikara, Mandan, and
Hidatsa. Champe cites the Lewis and Clark map of 1814 which places the Sicangu (Brule)
across the Big Bend, and the Oglalas on the Missouri above the Teton River and below the
Cheyenne (Champe 1974:271).
DeMallie states that the Lakota continued to press westward and drove the Kiowa and the
Crow from the Black Hills in the early 1800s (DeMallie 2001a:732). In the summer of 1815,
after the War of 1812, and American interests prevailed over British, the Teton and the Yankton signed a treaty of friendship with the United States at Portage des Sioux. It is DeMallie’s
opinion that this treaty was the first extension of American jurisdiction over the Sioux
(2001a:733). In 1851 the United States government sought to treat with western tribes in order to reduce intertribal warfare, which threatened the advancement of American trade and
settlement, and to establish both recognized boundaries between the tribes and recognized
“Chiefs” with which to conveniently negotiate. Near Fort Laramie, Wyoming representatives
of Teton, Yankton, Arapaho, Assiniboin, Cheyenne, Eastern Shoshone, Crow, Mandan and
Hidatsa, met at Horse Creek to sign a treaty. DeMallie points out that the significance of this
treaty lies in the establishment of intertribal boundaries. It also began an ongoing process to
limit Indian sovereignty, and it established, strictly from the American point of view, a head
chief over all the Lakota (DeMallie 2001c:795).
Although the American goals of the Treaty at Fort Laramie of 1851 included ending intertribal warfare, and establishing boundaries for Indian tribes, the treaty was mostly ignored by
the tribes. The Lakota in particular were perplexed by the American injunction against war for
the Lakota, yet the Americans continued to make war in quest for new lands (White
1978:340-341). As more and more immigrants flooded over the plains on the Oregon Trail,
the Lakota resented their presence, the diseases they carried and spread, and the buffalo they
took and the buffalo they scared away. Many altercations between American and Lakota
would take place. General William S. Harney wishing to punish the Lakota marched his
troops over the Oregon Trail in September 1855 and attacked a Brule village killing 86 people
(DeMallie 2001c:795). This would not be the last altercation with the U. S. Army.
DeMallie interprets the 1860s as difficult for the Sioux and other tribes because two American
authority systems were vying for primacy in Indian policy, the military and the civilian.
The1862 Sioux Uprising in Minnesota also fueled the military fire to conquer and punish the
Sioux collectively. As Dakota people fled Minnesota to seek refuge with their Dakota, Yankton, and Lakota relatives, the military pursued them relentlessly. Furthermore, as tensions
continued to mount, as Americans pressed into Sioux hunting lands and compromised Sioux
resources, driving buffalo away, and spreading epidemic diseases, and as the military seemed
willing to avenge any Sioux attempt to protect their interests, it would be the military extension of the government that pursued intercourse with the Lakota and other western Sioux
bands (DeMallie 2001c:796).
The Colorado Volunteer Militia attacked a Cheyenne village near Sand Creek on November
29, 1864 killing 137 Cheyenne. The Oglala and southern Brule joined the Cheyenne and the
Arapaho in seeking revenge, thereby, attacking Camp Rankin on the South Platte River and
the settlement of Julesburg on January 5, 1865 (DeMallie 2001c:796). Another Oglala Chief,
Red Cloud became a particularly famous Lakota leader against American expansion and interests. He declared all “whites” as enemies. Other hostilities occurred over the Bozeman
Trail. After 1862 settlers began streaming up the Bozeman Trail to Montana crossing Lakota
hunting grounds on the Powder River. The Lakota naturally fought to protect their land and
interests. In 1865 the military responded by building Fort Connor (Fort Reno). Other forts on
the Bozeman Trail followed: Fort Kearny, Fort Smith (1866), and Fort Fetterman (1867). The
Lakota continually attacked these forts. These mounting tensions led to the drafting of the
Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868. This treaty established the Great Sioux Reservation which
encompassed present day South Dakota west of the Missouri River and a section of present
day North Dakota between the Missouri and Cannonball rivers. According to the treaty, lands
in Wyoming and Montana remained unceded Indian lands. The treaty did not, however, solve
all of the problems between the Lakota and the United States.
The Lakota and other Sioux groups did not remain strictly inside the reservation established
for them. Many Lakota lived west of the reservation. Other Sioux groups were moving into
Montana on the Yellowstone River. As Sioux presence in Montana increased, eventually the
Milk River agency which served the Assiniboin and the Gros Ventre, was moved to Fort Peck
in 1872 and then established as a reservation for the Lower Assiniboin, Yanktonai and some
Teton (De Mallie 2001c:797). Military resistance to American expansion, settlement and interests continued throughout the region in the 1870s. Many Sioux opposed the building of the
Northern Pacific Railroad. When gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874 the publicity
of such news instigated a new flood of fortune seekers to the Black Hills, all trespassers upon
the Great Sioux Reservation. Though the government sought the sale of the Black Hills from
the Sioux, they refused strenuously.
Tensions rose further. And other skirmishes continued. Most famous was Custer’s defeat at
Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. Lt. Col. Custer attacked a village of Sioux and Cheyenne
during their summer gathering for the Sun Dance ceremonial. Custer and his men were defeated and killed. This indigenous victory sent shock waves over America. Hostilities between
the army continued with such famous chiefs as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, American Horse,
and Lame Deer. Slowly the Sioux bands surrendered and returned to their agencies. Buffalo
were becoming more and more scarce. The height of Sioux power had ended and decline followed. In 1888 the United States broke up the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations.
The United States wanted the reservation land for settlers and for progress. Though the Sioux
were unwilling to part with their land, the government used every tactic they could to get the
land. The reservations of Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge and
Rosebud resulted (DeMallie 2001c:815). These reservations remain today with the descendants of many different bands of Sioux living on each reservation. Intermarriage continues.
And today many Sioux identify themselves to outsiders by using their reservation affiliation
rather than their band name. But as the struggle for Native American rights continues, many
indigenous groups are recommitting themselves to representing themselves not only by their
reservation but by their cultural heritage.
The Pipe in Contemporary Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Culture
The Lakota holy man of great fame, Black Elk, gives to the red pipestone calumet preeminence in the realm of Lakota religious traditions. In the famous book Black Elk’s The Sacred
Pipe, Joseph Epps Brown, who edited the book, Black Elk recounts a legend of the origin of
the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe, and describes seven rituals and ceremonies which Black Elk
perceives to be central to traditional Lakota religious life. The sacred pipe is used ceremonially in each of these rites. These rites are the “keeping of the soul”, the Inipi or ritual sweat
bath for purification, Hanblecheyapi or crying for a vision (vision quest), Wiwanyag Wachipi
or Sun Dance, Hunkapi or the making of relatives, Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan or preparing a
girl for womanhood, and Tapa Wanka Yap or the throwing of the ball (Brown 1989:vii). The
opening of the pipe bundle itself requires a specific rite (Smith 1964).
White Buffalo Calf Woman, a Holy Person sent from the Great Mystery came to the people
bearing a precious gift, the sacred pipe. When she visited the people gathered for her visit, she
gave the pipe to a good chief of the people and instructed him and the gathered ones on the
rites and rituals of the pipe. She also instructed them how to live life in a good way using the
pipe for prayer, communication with the spirits and the Great Mystery, and to make relationships of mutual caring between peoples (Brown 1989; Red Dawn 1982; Looking Horse 1987;
LaPointe 1996).
Another Lakota man, Arval Looking Horse contributes an article to DeMallie and Park’s edited volume, Sioux Indian Religion (1987). Mr. Looking Horse at the time of publication was
the Keeper of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe, which he received from his grandmother, Lucy
Looking Horse the former pipe keeper when he was just a boy of twelve in 1966 (Looking
Horse 1987:67-69). According to Looking Horse, when nearing death the keeper will be told
in a dream who is to receive the pipe, usually a family member. His grandmother taught him
the ways to care for the pipe when he was very young. Though he forgot many things, due to
his young age, his father helped him and re-taught him many of the instructions of his grandmother.
In another contribution, Looking Horse mentions Black Elk’s prophecy that spirituality
would return to the Lakota people, especially to young people. Looking Horse says that when
it is time, he will pass on the Sacred Pipe Bundle on in the traditional way, just as it had been
passed to him by his grandmother (Doll 1994:110-111). The fulfillment of Black Elk’s prophecy is seen in the desire of Native American group’s including the Lakota to revive traditional
indigenous spirituality and to use the pipe as a part of this revival. Looking Horse remembers
the recent history of his people as time when the Sacred Hoop was broken, as Black Elk had
stated. But Looking Horse also sees the prophesied mending of the broken Hoop.
Looking Horse sees the Sacred Pipe of the Lakota as the source of blessing and power of all
pipes. He states that anyone can have and use a pipe as long as they believe in it. But only the
Sioux can use the Sacred Buffalo Calf Pipe for ceremony. All other pipes are roots and
branches from the core of the Sacred Pipe (Looking Horse 1987:69). Looking Horse relates
the story of the coming of the pipe brought to the people by White Buffalo Calf Woman, and
also the importance of the sweat ceremony for purification. Looking Horse mentions the Pipe
Ceremony which is performed for the good of the people. Many people come to him in order
to have their family pipes blessed by the Sacred Pipe. The Pipe is very powerful. The people
pray with the Pipe, this is Sioux religion according to Looking Horse. When the Pipe is
smoked, the spirits come and listen.
The presence of people like Arval Looking Horse and others show the living traditions of the
pipe and traditional Lakota and Dakota religion. It shows that the pipe itself is alive as a potent symbol and link between native people and their past, their present and their future, between native people and the world of spirit in which they live, between earth and sky, between land and people. It is the pipe that joins all these parts into one whole. It appears that all
Dakota and Lakota groups agree that the pipe is used as a method of prayer. But to pray with
the pipe is not a practice limited to the Sioux or to Siouan peoples. Praying with the pipe is a
living tradition, just as the quarrying and carving of the pipestone into pipes is a living tradition. Smith (1970) relates how in modern Teton society the pipe has become a central ritual
symbol for the revitalization of traditional religion and culture; for example, in the 1970s it
was proposed to introduce the use of the peace pipe in Catholic services.
Chief Red Dawn, (a.k.a. Stephen S. Jones, Jr.) writes in Masterkey of his own recollections of
his maternal grandfather Anpaduta (Eastern Dakota, Santee), an herbalist, storyteller and pipe
carver. Red Dawn recounts the legend of White Buffalo Woman as the bringer and giver of
the pipe of peace to the people, in this case the Dakota people. Remembering the skill with
which his grandfather carved pipes from the Minnesota pipestone, Red Dawn also recalls going to the quarry with his grandfather in order to excavate and retrieve the stone. He also mentions the importance of offering tobacco to the two guardian-spirit women before taking the
stone (Red Dawn 1982:110-112). Even today there are still Lakota, Dakota, and many other
indigenous carvers of pipes from the Minnesota pipestone quarry.
David Hughes provides the Park Service demographic information about Native American
quarriers. The time period from 1973 to 1994 many different indigenous groups were represented among the people securing permits to quarry the pipestone in Pipestone National
Monument, these include Sioux (identified by cultural group or by reservation affiliation; Sisseton, Wahpeton, Santee, Mdewakanton, Oglala, Yankton, Teton, Rosebud, Cheyenne River,
Yankton (Reservation), Standing Rock, Crow Creek, Upper Sioux, Lower Brule, Devils Lake,
Birdtail), Chippewa, Ojibwa, Blackfeet, Mandan, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Seneca, Dine (Navajo),
Winnebago (Ho-chunk), Pottawatomie, Oneida, Jamestown Klallam, Fon Du Lac, Arikara,
Joseph Bighead Reservation, Ponca, Penobscot, Peepeekesis Branch, Papago (O’Odham),
Paiute, Ottawa, Osage, Nez Perce, Menominee, Leech lake Pillager, Gros Ventre, Eskimo,
Creek (Muskogee), Creek Conkow Maidu, Comanche, Athabaskan and Assiniboin. “Ninetytwo percent of all permit holders come from the first ten of these tribes” (Hughes 1995:2223). Hughes further points out that most (39.2%) of the Sioux people who hold permits did
not specify their band or reservation affiliation. Of the Sioux that did specify most of these
identified as Sisseton-Wahpeton (21.1%) or as Santee (12.3%). According to Hughes the most
important factor for holding a permit was geography, “more than 80% of all permits issued
are to residents of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.”
Indeed the pipe is important to many different tribes and groups. Hughes points out how many
tribes are represented by individual permits held by Natives for Pipestone National Monument. Don Doll, S. J. interviewed and photographed Lakota and Dakota people for his book,
ten of the sixty-three Sioux mentioned the pipe as important or central to religion, culture and
identity or held a catlinite pipe in their hands (Doll 1994). Native American portraits with
pipes are not a new phenomenon. The American artist George Catlin painted many portraits
during his journey into Indian country in the early part of the nineteenth century. Many of the
portraits he painted, that are reprinted in his published journals, are of Indian men, sometimes
chiefs holding calumet pipes with catlinite bowls (Catlin 1973).
The pipe is also one symbol traditional indigenous religion among many Native American
groups. Among the Yankton, the continuity of the use of the sacred pipe in religion and prayer
is of central importance to traditionalists. Even among non-traditionalists, the pipe has become a symbol for their Yankton identity and solidarity to their Lakota and Dakota relatives
as well as their other Indian relatives. The pipe is part of the mending of the Sacred Hoop of
which Black Elk spoke. Hoover and Bruguier (1988:74) state that “[m]issionaries and federal
employees have used almost every means … to destroy the Pipe, but Yankton traditionalists
preserved it underground. Since the 1930s, the ways of the Pipe have surfaced in a renaissance that allows change in procedure without loss of meaning.”
As indigenous religious consciousness is rekindled all over the hemisphere and as pan-Indian
movements sweep through Indian country, some ideas and practices that are recognized as
(stereo)typically “Indian” become popularized. Moreover, the uniqueness of the sacred pipe
as a symbol to many Native American cultural groups and the widespread use of the pipe in
traditional cultures add to the growing significance of the red pipestone in particular. Groups
that may have used other materials in addition to pipestone to make pipes may be moving towards wanting to make ceremonial pipes of pipestone alone. Pipes also continue to be made
as ceremonial gifts in honoring people who make significant contributions to the community.
This present author has witnessed such gifting of pipes among several different Native
American groups including Cherokee, Winnebago, and Ojibwa. Corbett points out that the
Indian Claims Court recognized that the Yankton and by implication all Native Americans
have rights to use the pipestone quarry for making their sacred pipes (Corbett 1978:116). With
this in mind and one of the legends recorded by Catlin, that the Great Spirit gave the pipestone to all nations, we see that the importance of the quarry in Native American consciousness will continue for many centuries to come.
On the basis of the cultural affiliation and traditional association research for Pipestone National Monument summarized in this Draft Volume One, the following suggestions may be
Research Suggestions
1. Given that numerous contemporary claims of cultural affiliation or traditional
association are made to gain access to the pipestone quarry, it would be very
useful to invest research efforts and funding in updating the provenance studies. The analytical techniques used in identifying sources of red pipestone have
improved enormously since John Sigstad wrote his dissertation in 1973. Currently there are affordable, nondestructive, and highly sensitive techniques,
such as Portable Infrared Mineral Analyzer (PIMA) and Laser Ablation Inductively-coupled Plasma Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), which may be helpful in
isolating catlinite from other red pipestones. Such an analysis would provide
the monument managers with independent data to support their decisions about
quarry use and access.
2. Given that the archaeological record of Indian use of the quarry is not always
explicit or forthcoming, we suggest to expand research to systematically
document non-archaeological resource uses. Plants have already been surveyed
(see Volume Two), but animals and landforms may also have a significant use
3. One of the areas that may need yet more reanalysis is the archaeological context around the Leaping Rock, which even though it was found to be disturbed,
it still may contain some information on the uses of this feature. The pattern of
deposition of the pottery found there, near or below water, is characteristic of
tribal ritual offering placement and does not resemble any type of secular use
or habitation.
4. Thiessen (review comments, 2003) has suggested that a systematic review of
pipes that appear in historic Indian portraits and photographs may reveal additional information for cultural affiliation. Similarly, oral histories of contemporary pipe keepers from different tribes may be useful for assessing genealogical
connections with old pipestone carvers and pipe keepers.
Suggestions for Interpretation
1. A promising area for expanding or refining interpretive programs in the
monument is the diversity of place versus resource uses documented in regional prehistory and history. For example, it would be informative to show
that various features in the monument were used intermittently by prehistoric
people even before the exploitation of catlinite for pipe and tablet manufacture
and exchange became such a widespread phenomenon, so that visitors may expand their perspective of the highly dynamic history of the monument.
2. The tribal groups who are affiliated or associated with the monument may appreciate an exhibit that shows the centrality of Pipestone Quarry as a destination or as a locality in their migration and origin stories.
3. The public may benefit from interpretive exhibits that provide a “landscape”
perspective to the history of uses of the monument, where the quarry is shown
in association to all other cultural significant features in an “organic” or interactive way.
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