The sacred pipe was one of the most important artifacts of the indigenous people of North America. In almost every culture, the sacred pipe was considered a gift from The Great Spirit. The Cree believed that the pipe, the tobacco, and the fire were given as parting gifts from the Creator, while the Iowa Black Bear clan believed that the pipe bowl and later the pipe stem emerged from the earth as gifts to the earth’s first bears. In most cases, the sacred pipe was considered a medium through which humans could pray to The Great Spirit, asking for guidance, health, and the necessities of life. In order for the prayers to reach the Great Spirit, they had to travel in the plumes of smoke from the sacred pipe. Because of its connection to the spiritual world, the pipe was treated with more respect than any human being, especially when the pipe bowl was joined to the stem.
Unlike the common pipe, which was used by average tribesmen for casual smoking purposes, the sacred pipe was built with precise craftsmanship. Before a pipe was carved, the catlinite (pipestone) was blessed and prayed over. The bowl of the traditional sacred pipe was made of red pipestone to represent the Earth. The wooden stem represented ail that grew upon the Earth. In the Lakota Society, as in many Native American tribes, the people believed that the pipe bowl also represented a woman while the pipe stem represented a man. Joined together, the pipe symbolized the circle of love between a man and woman. The sacred pipe was the only object that was built by both genders; men carved the bowl and stem while women decorated the pipe with porcupine quills. In many tribes the man and woman held onto the sacred pipe during the marriage ceremony.
Cultivating the tobacco was the responsibility of certain members of the tribe. Generally, tobacco was mixed with herbs, bark, and roots, such as bay- berry, mugwort, and wild cherry bark. These mixtures varied depending on the plants that were indigenous to the tribal area. Ceremonial tobacco was much stronger than the type that was used for everyday smoking. Rather than being inhaled, the smoke from the sacred pipe was puffed out the mouth in four directions.
In a typical pipe ceremony, the pipe holder stood up and held the pipe bowl in his left hand, with the stem held toward the East in his right hand. Before adding the first pinch of tobacco to the pipe bowl, he sprinkled some on the ground as an offering to both Mother Earth and the East. The East was acknowledged as the place where the morning star rose. Tribes believed that peace would evolve from wisdom if they prayed to the morning star.
Before offering a prayer to the South, the pipe holder again offered Mother Earth a sprinkling of tobacco and added another pinch into the bowl. The South was believed to bring strength, growth, and healing. While facing west the pipe holder acknowledged Mother Earth and prepared to thank the area where the sun sets. West was where the tribe believed the Spirit Helpers lived. At this time, they prayed for guidance from the spiritual world. The ceremony then proceeded to the North, which was thanked for blanketing Mother Earth with white snow, and for providing health and endurance.
After these four prayers, the pipe holder held the stem to the ground again and the tribe promised to respect and protect Mother Earth. Next, the stem was held up at an angle so that Father Sky could be thanked for the energy and heat he gave to the human body. Finally, the stem was held straight up and the tribe acknowledged The Great Spirit, thanking him for being the creator of Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the four directions.
After the pipe holder had worked his way around the four directions, he lit the pipe and passed it around the sacred circle in the same direction as the ceremonial prayers, starting from the East. Each member took a puff of smoke and offered another prayer. When the pipe had made a full circle, it was capped with bark, and the stem was removed. It was important for the stem and bowl to be stored in separate pockets in a pipe pouch. These pieces were not allowed to touch each other, except during a sacred pipe ceremony.
Pipestone, Minnesota, is considered hallowed ground for North American tribes. Regardless of their conflicts, tribes put their weapons down and gathered in peace in these quarries. According to the Dakota tribe, The Great Spirit once called all Indian nations to this location. Here the Spirit stood on the red pipestone and broke a piece away from the rock to make a giant pipe. He told his people that the red stone was their flesh and that it should be used to make a sacred pipe. He also said that the pipestone belonged to all native tribesmen and that the quarries must be considered a sacred place. Thus, people who had sacred pipes in their possession were considered caretakers, not owners.
Choose the correct letters, A-C, and write them in boxes 15-19 on your Answer Sheet
15 The sacred pipe was important in native American cultures because
A it was part of their spiritual practice
B it was used in gift exchanges between tribes
C it represented traditional handicrafts
16 The pipe was made of
A stone and wood
B bark and roots
C red clay from the Earth
17 The pipe was sometimes used at
18 During the pipe ceremony, tribe members smoked
A plain tobacco
B a combination of plants
C only bark
19 Pipestone, Minnesota, is an important place because it is
A the site of a major battle
B the origin of the Dakota tribe
C source of stone for pipes
Complete the flowchart about the pipe ceremony. Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
|The pipe holder takes the (20)………………..in his left hand and the (21)…………….in his other hand|
|The pipe holder offers tobacco to Mother Earth and (22)…………………the place where the morning star rises and then puts some in the pipe|
|The pipe holder prays to (23)………………..to bring strength, growth and healing and then prays to the remaining directions|
|The pipe holder points the pipe stem down and then up and prays to The Great Spirit, in appreciation for (24)……………., Father Sky and (25)……………..|
|The pipe holder passes the pipe around the sacred circle, and all members of the circle (26)………………..and pray|
|The bowl and stem are (27)………………..because they can only touch each other during the ceremony|