MPR: Sacred pipestone at national monument

"In the southwest corner of Minnesota, thousands of visitors each year take in the Pipestone National Monument's untouched prairie and its famous red rock.

The Pipestone National Monument is a compact park, about 300 acres, loaded with history. Bordering the city of Pipestone, it's mostly open prairie that looks much like it did before European settlers arrived.

For centuries, Native Americans have placed great religious significance on the pipestone found here. They've quarried and carved the stone into pipes and other objects, and the practice continues today.

Scattered across the park's grassland are its famous pipestone quarries -- more than 50 of them. Travis Erickson, who was born and raised in Pipestone, works in one of them.

"I've been carving pipes for about 30 years, hand-quarrying the stone for 35 years," he said.

Erickson's quarry is one of the largest at the Pipestone National Monument, 17 feet deep and more than 50 feet wide. Other nearby quarries are much smaller, some just a few feet across.

Only American Indians can quarry here, and they need to apply for a permit to do so. Erickson is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe, and his annual permit allows him to mine as much pipestone as he wants."

Get the Story:
Pipestone: A spiritual place (Minnesota Public Radio 9/29)

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