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Pipestone National Monument
Pipestone National Monument by National Park Service

The story of this stone and the pipes made from it spans four centuries of Plains Indian life. Inseparable from the traditions that structured daily routine and honored the spirit world, pipes figured prominently in the ways of the village and in dealings between tribes. The story parallels that of a culture in transition: the evolution of the pipes influenced - and was influenced by - their makers' association with white explorers, traders, soldiers, and settlers.

Plains Indian culture has undergone radical change since the era of the free-ranging buffalo herds, yet pipecarving is by no means a lost art. Carvings today are appreciated as artworks as well as for ceremonial use. Once again, as commanded by the spirit bird in the Sioux story of its creation, the pipestone here is quarried by anyone of Indian ancestry. An age-old tradition continues in the modern world, ever changing yet firmly rooted in the past.

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