19th Century, 20th Century, Art, History, Native Americans

Pipestone National Monument Established

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“Pipestone Quarry on the Coteau des Prairies” George Catlin Oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum. 1985.66.337

Aug 25, 1937
Congress establishes the state’s first national monument–Pipestone National Monument–in southwestern Minnesota.*

Monuments typically are structures or markers that are placed to guide society to remember that something of significance. In this case, the item of importance is literally a type of stone specimens of a quality rarely found in elsewhere. Below is a brief excerpt, that gives us a little scientific footing to understand it.

“The Early Proterozoic Sioux Quartzite of southwestern Minnesota accumulated as sedimentary sand layers deposited by streams that flowed across an erosional surface developed on older Archean rocks. These deposits were metamorphosed by heat and pressure to produce the metamorphic layers of quartzite seen today. The thin 2 to 6 inch layers of reddish-brown catlinite – a metamorphic claystone argillite – is normally found sandwiched between layers of quartzite which is often found under an overburden of 10-15 feet. The catlinite deposits of southwestern Minnesota are estimated to be between 1.6 billion and 1.8 billion years old.” **

Most of the western world found out about Pipestone through snippets in the journals and writings of explorers like Lewis and Clark ca. 1814, or Philander Prescott ca. 1832.***
In 1836, American artist George Catlin – after whom Catlinite is named – recorded the Sioux legend of the origin of the pipestone as follows:
“At an ancient time the Great Spirit, in the form of a large bird, stood upon the wall of rock and called all the tribes around him. Taking out a piece of the red stone, he formed it into a pipe and smoked it, the smoke rolling over the whole multitude. He then told his red children that this red stone was their flesh, that they were made from it, that they must all smoke to him through it, that they must use it for nothing but pipes: and as it belonged alike to all the tribes, the ground was sacred, and no weapons must be used or brought upon it.”****
The mystery of this place was also recorded in the imagery of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry; “On the mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry…”.*****
However, those with the most memory of the place are those to whom it is most sacred; the Ihanktonwan Nation. This group of Sioux, a.k.a. the Council of the Seven Fires, are the sworn protectors of this holy ground, and the ritual pipes made from these stones.For what reason is pipe-smoking considered sacred and necessary for most tribal and family meetings, or at times of decision?******

The pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual for connecting physical and spiritual worlds. “The pipe is a link between the earth and the sky,” explains White Deer of Autumn. “Nothing is more sacred. The pipe is our prayers in physical form. Smoke becomes our words; it goes out, touches everything, and becomes a part of all there is. The fire in the pipe is the same fire in the sun, which is the source of life.” The reason why tobacco is used to connect the worlds is that the plant’s roots go deep into the earth, and its smoke rises high into the heavens.*******

So we turn to You in prayer, dear Father! We give You thanks for creating connections between the physical and spiritual worlds through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ! We thank You that the natural and supernatural is flawlessly joined in Your practical teachings and in the most sacred rituals proscribed in Your Word! You did not create and then negate; Your Spirit is with us, and guides our prayers and actions beyond the limitations of the present tense! You allow us to experience and connect with the great “I AM”!

We give You thanks for the creation of the Pipestone National Monument, and for its’ keepers; the Ihanktonwan Nation! We thank You for the protections offered by the states of Minnesota and South Dakota, indirectly, to the prayers of the Sioux Nations! We thanks You that You remember the smoke of the Ochethi Sakowin, the Dakota, and the Lakota peoples through time.

We ask that You forgive the separations of these people groups, and the latter residents of Minnesota and South Dakota. Where we sinned against You in this place, will You forgive us? Where we have failed to recognize You, will You open our eyes and our hearts? Where we have cursed the grounds in war, or broken relationships, will You lift the curse?

Sweet Holy Spirit, will You blow Your smoke over Pipestone, and connect us with our Messiah? Spread Your fragrance through us Jesus! You have carved Your image into our lives, may we pass that image on!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://www.rocksandminerals.com/specimens/pipestonegeo.htm
*** http://www.lewis-clark.org/article/3161
**** http://www.rocksandminerals.com/specimens/pipestone.htm
***** https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/pipestone/rock.htm
****** https://www.yanktonsiouxtribe.net
******* https://www.native-americans-online.com/native-american-pipe-ceremony.html

Want more? Please read a primary source letter by Catlin regarding Pipestone. Catlin, George. “Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians”. Published London.1844. http://www.rocksandminerals.com/specimens/pipestonevisit.htm

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19th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans

“Song of Hiawatha” Published Nov 10, 1855

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow never visited Minnesota, but his epic poem The Song of Hiawatha immortalized the Minnesota forests, prairies, and waters he saw only in his imagination. Longfellow began Hiawatha on June 25, 1854, he completed it on March 29, 1855, and it was published November 10, 1855.

The famous story still attracts tourists from around the country to see, in the words of the poem,
“Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.”*

This poem could be revelatory of the best and worst aspects of pop culture…even if it was popular 160 years ago. A cynical synopsis? A man who never visited Minnesota or lived with the Ojibwe whose language he borrowed, wrote a pop lyric that morphed and mutated their culture with the East Coast Iroquois to the tune of the “Kalevela” of Finland?! Of course it became a smash hit, and the listeners accepted it as the truth!

I’m not a cynic, Jesus. So today I wish to focus on that which gives life in this poem by Longfellow. I want to practice seeing the potential in historical works, rather than judging their limitations according to the standards of the present.

Longfellow sought to learn real Indian languages, and wasn’t afraid to interact with real Indians. He invited Kahge-ga-gah-bowh, an Ojibwe Chief, to his home, and took the time to meet Blackhawk, Sac, and Fox Indians in Boston.

If the poet saw a connection between tribes of the East Coast of North America with those of the Midwest, can we forgive him? Artists are allowed to make connections where others do not see them. We can find fault in their “improper” labeling of a small branch of a larger concept, and stubbornly miss their heart.

As a drummer and percussionist, I seek to learn each new ethnic music from the ground up with great respect for its traditions. However, there is new life in breaking the rules, once one knows them. If one hears a connection between Celtic music and samba, then merging them into a new style is natural.

Perhaps that is the explanation for Longfellow merging the sound and rhythms of Indians with the heartbeat of Finland? Maybe he borrowed an interesting “drumbeat” from Suomi poems to express what he felt about Native Americans? In any case:
“The Song of Hiawatha was written in trochaic tetrameter, the same meter as Kalevala, the Finnish epic compiled by Elias Lönnrot from fragments of folk poetry. Longfellow had learned some of the Finnish language while spending a summer in Sweden in 1835.” Calhoun, Charles C. (2004). Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press.

Father, will You bless Longfellow, Kahnge-ga-gah-bowh, and each Indian who shared his story? Will You continue to bless those who reach out to know a culture very different than their own? Will You honor those who see Your unyielding imagination expressed through all the families of nations?

Thank You for Longfellow’s example that we can create beauty beyond the confining aspects of our culture. Show us ways to “include, but not be limited to” the legalism of our traditions. Thank You, First Poet, for drawing the romance from hearts of stone! Thank You for the possibility of fusing peoples together when living under grace! May we never tire of creating, merging, or reaching to describe Your beauty mirrored in the faces of fellow humans! With this heart and mind, will You bless our state?

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .

 

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