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Pipestone Fragment

Date: 1200-1700 (Oneota)


Description: This carved and decorated piece of pipestone comes from the Oneota culture. Pipestone is another name for catlinite, mudstone that had been hardened and metamorphosed until it is given a brownish red color. It got its true name from George Catlin, an explorer who found the pipestone quarry in Minnesota and discovered that Native Americans had been using the quarry for years. However, we call it pipestone because the red stone was often used to make calumets, or sacred pipes. Calumets were composed of a bowl or pipe stem made of catlinite, and a wooden staff. These calumets were used in traditional religious and spiritual ceremonies, and were a means of communicating with the spirits of ancestors. This piece of pipestone is hollow, and was likely used as a part of a calumet. It is part of the Sioux City Public Museum’s Homer Anderson collection, a huge collection of Native American artifacts. A national park has been made out of the pipestone quarry in Minnesota, called the Pipestone National Monument.


Donor: Cindy Owen

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