Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pipestone Example in Montana - A Little Bit of Minnesota or Utah


The Montana Historical Society museum in Helena, Montana has many displays from natural history to various human habitation eras of the state. On display is a beautiful arrow shaped red pipe tip carved by Natives.

Red pipestone is also called, catlinite, an iron-rich, reddish, soft quartzite slate harvested from below groundwater level. According to the Wikipedia site for caitlin, "Red pipestone was used by the Eastern Tribes, Western and Great Basin Tribes, and the Plains Tribes, with sources of the stone in Tennessee (South Central), Minnesota (Pipestone), and Utah (Delta, Uinta). Sacred pipestone comes from Pipestone, Minnesota. The quarry itself is located just north of the town at the Pipestone National Monument. Today only people of Native American ancestry are allowed to quarry the pipestone from this quarry."

Given the Montana's proxitity to Utah this display item may be from there or Minnesota. From the Minnesota samples that I have seen in museums in Iowa and Minnesota it looks like this arrow shape pipestone matches Minnesota quarry features - basically the color and lighter colored speck patterns. Regardless of where this piece was gathered and later carved, it is quite fancy and probably was used during important times.

Pipestone can be found in 42N country. I have purchased a piece at an antique store a number of years ago. I also have found some small flakes near local creek beds, hills and rivers bottoms. Quite cool. Know that.