Catlinite, a form of red pipestone, was an important raw material for the Ioway and other tribes of the Upper Midwest and Eastern Plains. They used catlinite extensively, but not exclusively, for carving tobacco pipe bowls. Tobacco and pipes played important roles in the rituals of many Native American tribes, such as when opening negotiations with other groups, including other tribes or Europeans.
The calumet was the French word given to a kind of pipe made by several tribes for rituals and ceremonies. A calumet had a highly decorated hollow cane or wood stem adorned with long colored feathers. At one end of the stem was attached a bowl carved of red pipestone, limestone, or other raw material. Two bowl forms--elbow-shaped and disk-shaped--were commonly found on calumets; the Ioway bowls were elbow-shaped. For calumet ceremonies, a mixture of tobacco and other plants such as sumac or dogwood was placed into the bowl and lit. In 1676 Father Louis André of the St. Francis de Xavier Mission at Green Bay wrote of the Ioway that "their greatest wealth is in buffalo hides and red stone calumet pipes."
Red Pipestone and Catlinite
Engraved catlinite tablet or plaque,
Stiles Collection, Cherokee County, OSA file photo
Catlinite pipe blank from the Blood Run Site, Lyon County;
Catlinite pipe from Allamakee County
OSA file photo
Blakeslee, Donald J.
1981 The Origin and Spread of the Calumet Ceremony. American Antiquity 46:759-768.
Emerson, Thomas E. and Randall E. Hughes
2001 De-Mything the Cahokia Catlinite Trade. Plains Anthropologist 46(176):149-162.
Hall, Robert L.
1997. An Archaeology of the Soul: North American Indian Belief and Ritual. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.