Orion and I got home late last night and I have photos to sort through this morning. So a late posted blog because I have to tell you what we’ve been up to.
We took a weekend trip out to the pink rock country. We visited Pipestone and Sioux Falls. As you know this year my women’s group each adopted a diorama from the Bell Museum. One of those diorama’s was of Pipestone.
Our adventure began by stepping into the diorama.
The tall grass prairie is in bloom at this time of year. Several of the exhibits at the National Park talk about the herbology of the Native Americans in the area. This is buffalo country, but the only one’s we saw were statues.
The Sioux Quartzite formations are very dramatic. They are full of fissures and faces. Towering above us they still embrace us, like sitting in a circle of elders.
This site is sacred to many different tribal nations, and that sacred ground is very apparent. Walking under the cliffs has the feel of being in a cathedral. The stones sing, as does the river that runs through the site.
Only registered Native Americans from tribes that historically mined the area are allowed to quarry the pipestone. They still do it by hand, with respect to the land. The quarries sometimes collapse or fill with water. There are families who spend years coming out to Pipestone to reclaim quarries that have fallen. Tending these sites is like a gift to the ancestors and descendants. It is sacred work.
We got to talk with some of the pipestone carvers, who work doing demonstrations at the Information Center. Carving is also a generational skill. Travis Erickson has been carving most of his life. He also saves the pipestone dust from his carving and makes a resin in which he embeds sacred herbs (like flat cedar). He turns these into amulets also for sale at the museum shop.
We spent the night at Palisades State Park in South Dakota. Our hostess reserved cabins so we didn’t have too much haul and carry. The cabins were not “accessible” but manageable and comfortable, especially since I had help. We had perfect weather, a late night watching the Perseid meteor shower, and breakfast on the cabin deck. Orion and I didn’t go walking through the park (except the hike to the bathrooms) but some of my friends did and judging from their stories there are some wonderful spots.
Sunday we spent in Sioux Falls. We went visiting family (not mine, but it’s always fun to meet my friend’s parents) and gawking about town. Apparently Pokemon Go functions as a guidebook to interesting sites. We found many in Sioux Falls, and made a point to visit a few. We went to see some of the sculptures on the Augustana College campus. We drove down the sculpture walk and of course spent some time at the falls.
Sioux Falls runs over pink rock, but here it’s not pipestone but quartzite. The falls powered a mill early in the development of the city. The ruins (it burned down) form some of the park structure. Again, we couldn’t have asked for a prettier Sunday afternoon. Of course the park was full of people and I wasn’t getting the wheelchair out climbing on the rocks. We did find a spot where we could stand in the spray of the falls and that was refreshing.