Pipestone National Monument History

Pipestone Native American Pipe

Pipestone Native American Pipe

The Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, Minnesota was and is a sacred site for local Native Americans. Pipestone Monument celebrates the ancient rock quarry that Native Americans have used for centuries to create ceremonial pipes. Pipestone itself, sometimes called Catlinite in honor of the American George Catlin who was the first white man to catalog its existence, ranges from mottled pink to brick red in color and was created over millions of years as a layer of red clay was compressed and heated to form the relatively soft stone you see today.

By 1700, the Dakota Sioux controlled the Pipestone Quarry and traded the stone to nearby tribes. The Sioux carved pipes for ceremonial smoking, preparing for warfare, ritual dancing and trade. The pipes carved by Native Americans began as crude but adequate tubes, but by the time George Catlin arrived in 1836 the pipes were extremely intricate and included artwork such as elaborate human and animal effigies. These traditions are still carried on today, and the pipes carved are used for both artistic and ceremonial uses.

Tourist Information:

Pipestone National Monument includes a visitor center with a museum and interpretive film, and houses the Upper Midwest Indian Cultural Center where pipe making demonstrations are held and visitors can purchase publications and actual pipes.

The ¾ mile trail to the monument, called the Circle Trail, begins at the visitor center and includes views of native tall-grass prairie, the Pipestone Quarry and Winnewissa Falls.

Operating Hours:

The Visitor Center and Upper Midwest Indian Cultural Center are open daily. From late May through Labor Day, hours of operation are from 8am-6pm; from Labor Day through late May, from 8am-5pm. All facilities are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.


$3 per person for 16+

Pipestone National Monument was established on August 25, 1937.

Pipestone National Monument – 507.825.5463.


Pipestone National Monument Sign

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