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Pipestone






Category: THE CENRAL STATES AND THE GREAT LAKES

Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Pipestone, a smooth, hard, even-textured clay, of lively color, from
which thousands of red men cut their pipe-bowls, forms a wall on the
Coteau des Prairies, in Minnesota, that is two miles long and thirty feet
high. In front of it lie five bowlders, the droppings from an iceberg to
the floor of the primeval sea, and beneath these masses of granite live
the spirits of two squaws that must be consulted before the stone can be
dug. This quarry was neutral ground, and here, as they approached it, the
men of all tribes sheathed their knives and belted up their axes, for to
this place the Great Spirit came to kill and eat the buffalo, and it is
the blood of this animal that has turned the stone to red. Here, too, the
Thunder Bird had her nest, and her brood rent the skies above it with the
clashing of their iron wings.

A snake having crawled into this nest to steal the unhatched thunders,
Manitou caught up a piece of pipestone, hastily pressed it between his
hands, giving it the shape of a man, and flung it at the reptile. The
stone man's feet stuck fast in the ground, and there he stood for a
thousand years, growing like a tree and drawing strength and knowledge
out of the earth. Another shape grew up beside him--woman. In time the
snake gnawed them free from their foundations and the red-earth pair
wandered off together. From them sprang all people.

Ages after, the Manitou called the red men to the quarry, fashioned a
pipe for them, told them it was a part of their flesh, and smoked it over
them, blowing the smoke to north, south, east, and west, in token that
wherever the influence of the pipe extended there was to be brotherhood
and peace. The place was to be sacred from war and they were to make
their pipes from this rock. As the smoke rolled about him he gradually
disappeared from view. At the last whiff the ashes fell out and the
surface of the rock for miles burst into flame, so that it melted and
glazed. Two ovens opened at its foot, and through the fire entered the
two spirits Tsomecostee and Tsomecostewondee--that are still its
guardians, answering the invocations of the medicine-men and accepting
the oblations of those who go to make pipes or carve their totems on the
rock.





Next: The Virgins' Feast

Previous: The Keusca Elopement



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