The Pipestone Cross Pendant
The Meaning of the Cross
The Pipestone Cross in an important symbol. The cross represents the most important aspect of the Christian religion. It symbolizes the end of Christ's life prior to his resurrection. The Pipestone itself is important to the Native community. This connection is to the Native pipe which has been a connection in this way to their God. For this reason the Pipestone Cross has an important meaning. It shows the deep care and concern that we have for our Native brothers and sisters. For a donation of $100 or more to a fund of your choice one has the ability to then receive one of these crosses which goes towards helping to heal the wounds that have been created between the Christian and Native populations.
Only three quarries exist in the world with this pipestone: one has black pipestone and is located in Canada, one has red pipestone and is located in Minnesota and the stone in the third quarry is red pipestone as well which is in Wisconsin but is considered by many too difficult to carve.
Pipestone can only be quarried by those who are of indigenous descent. In the quarrying of Pipestone only hand tools can be used. In order to access the Pipestone one needs to first break through a layer of quartzite which is the second hardest stone in the world. This quartzite has the ability to be sometimes several feet deep. In addition, Pipestone only has the ability to be quarried during the summer and fall timeframe due to freeze in the winter and spring thaw. In general, with skill and expertise, one can only take away a limited amount of Pipestone by the end of the year.
After the Pipestone has been quarried the Pipestone still then needs to be carved. This carving technique requires hand files and sanding. Many times one can still see small notches from the carving tools if they look closely enough at these crosses. Then one takes hot wax and covers the Pipestone which gives the Pipestone it's sheen.
Each piece of Pipestone is unique given the variations in the stone itself. Some red stone is a deep and solid red., other stone is called a 'snowflake' stone as it has speckles of white in the stone itself, some stone is almost pink in color and still yet other stone almost looks marbled due to these variations. The black stone does not have as much variation as the red stone itself does but it still unique given that there is only one quarry in the world that carries it.
Given the amount of work that goes into each Pipestone Cross one can see how each Pipestone Cross has unique characteristics given that each are hand-carved by those who are Native. For each of these reasons this Pipestone Cross is something that is to be cherished.
The Story of how the Pipestone Cross came into fruition
I had the privilege of working in Pipestone, MN where I was able to learn about Pipestone and the quarrying techniques. At a later time I was brought back up to my home in Stacy, MN where I went about my continued research of Bishop Baraga and what happened to the Ojibwe in the 1800's. During that timeframe I was contemplating starting a store that had the Native Crafts in it which would support the Native communities. I then contacted the person who I worked with in Pipestone and asked if there was some way that I could purchase some Native crafts from. He agreed and I left to go to the store at a later time.
On the way down there I was going through a list of possible items to carry in this store. I was going over the list with my travel companion. I had mentioned a Pipestone Cross and she wrote it down. We wrote down some more items but I kept going back to the Pipestone Cross. "It seems important. For some reason it just seems important!" We then would go back to the list again and once again the Pipestone Cross would come up again. Over all the items that we had discussed none had gained as much attention as the Pipestone Cross itself.
When we arrived at the store we took a seat in the kitchen area to talk with the store owner. He said that he and his wife were talking and they had thought about this one thing for me: Pipestone Crosses. The passenger and myself looked at each other and just started laughing. I responded back, "That's exactly what we were thinking! We kept going back to that one particular thing over and over the entire drive down here!" He then went into the back and grabbed all the Pipestone Crosses that he had and handed them over.
These are moments for me that have me know that what is showing up is 100% absolutely what was supposed to happen. Both myself, my passenger, him and his wife all knew together what was supposed to transfer hands. For this reason these Pipestone Crosses are able to be on this site today.