Painting by George Catlin, circa 1830
Smoking pipes, also known as calumets or chanunpa (chanupa), were some of the most prized possessions among almost all Native American tribes. The two most common styles were the larger ceremonial calumet and a smaller personal pipe. Pipe bowls were generally carved from sacred pipestone, also known as Catlinite (named for the artist George Catlin, who spent much time living among and painting the Indians of the northern plains), which is found in only one place in Minnesota. The stone bowls were carved in a wide variety of shapes, such as T-pipes, elbows, and human or animal effigies, and they were often decorated with inlaid designs of lead retrieved from old bullets; today silver is usually used. Native Americans to this day are still making pipes out of stone extracted from these sacred quarries. Pipestems were most often carved from ash or sumac and decorated with eagle feathers, dyed horsehair
and porcupine quillwork. Later, after the Europeans introduced beads, beadwork often replaced quillwork .
Our pipes are based on several original examples seen in museums and the paintings of George Catlin. They are made from the traditional Catlinite, in most cases inlaid with silver. The pipestems are made from ash and wrapped in braided porcupine quills or beadwork, and further decorated with hand-painted simulated eagle feathers and red dyed horsehair. Each pipe is meticulously handcrafted in the highest quality using only the best original materials available.