in a Pipe Ceremony for the first time in 1988, an immense connection to
The Great Spirit came. Indigenous Americans describe God as Wakan Tanka,
or the Creator of All things, or the most Sacred Spirit. As the ceremony
progressed, there came a feeling that was hard to describe, as if this
part of my life had been unfolding with a greater purpose.
is a Lakota word for Sacred Pipe. As the months and years have passed,
great respect for
the teaching of this Sacred Pipe and the Ceremonies which honor it
became a part of my life. The teachings permeate all of the actions
taken to produce each pipe. I am respectfully grateful for all who have
shared the Wisdom of the Ancients and for the Elders who have accepted
this white woman’s purpose. I am 1/8 Seminole and 1/16 Cherokee,
but was not raised in this culture.
6 months passed after that first ceremony, in which many dreams
occurred. In these dreams, the Elders placed their hands over my own
hands guiding the process of carving stone into the Chanunpa. As the
Elders shared the teachings, there were no words, only acute
visualization and the understanding of the teaching through age acquired
thoughts and feelings that seemed to pass through their hands into my
trained as an artist, there had never been an attempt to carve anything,
much less to carve in three dimensional form. The Elder's hands taught
how approach the stone, and to become one with the stone. The hands
showed how to form the bowl and how to connect the smoke path to make it
draw properly. They taught how to respect the essence and nature
of the stone from which
the Chanunpa was to take form.
the lessons were completed, there was a knowing that it was time to
carve. With great excitement, the search for pipestone began, only to
find that it was more difficult to obtain than expected. Alas it seemed
unavailable in all the local searches.
or catlinite, is regarded as the blood and the bones of the Lakota
people and definitely a Sacred Stone. It can only be found in Pipestone,
Minnesota. After early pillaging by whites, the government finally
closed the pipestone quarry. Today only native Indians can take stone
from the quarry.
first stone that became available was a piece of African soap stone.
Gathering tools with which to carve, including exacta knives, drill
bits, razor blades, dental picks, and anything else to approach the
stone, the project began. The kitchen table proved to be the best
location for carving the first practice pipe.
were to make a small pipe of a woman's head with flowing hair going back
over the bowl. Work began by hand drilling the bowl and then the hole
for the stem and connecting the two together with a small drill. The
clump of stone would now smoke.
next four hours were a blur and very little was remembered from the
trance like state of consciousness that ensued. This state had never
before happened to me. As normal consciousness seemed to return, it was
shocking to find that I was holding a rattlesnake pipe in my hand
without remembering having carved it. Shocked and almost terrified at
the experience, I called my teacher and explained that I must send it to
him. He said absolutely not.
many attempts to give it to others , I called my teacher again. He
laughed at me he said; "Don't you know that it is
yours?". I too can make large mistakes, even while being
tutored by the best. It did become the special pipe that was meant
to be mine. The rattlesnake is still my personal chanunpa
finishing the first pipe, pipestone began to be gifted to me. There had
also been Dreamtime instructions that implied there needed to be four
additional pipes made and given as gifts. This was done.
became concerned that so many non-native people were turning to the pipe
to pray. Most did not know how to honor and use such an instrument. I
wrote a small book to explain these things and help the new comer with
proper usage and respect.
My hunka grandfather
said he wanted me to make lots of copies to give to the
children in the reservation schools so they could learn about the
chanunpa. He didn't like me calling it a "pipe" ... He said it
wasn't for plumbing!
the word "chanunpa" for a sacred pipe made from pipestone. To
me, it is not a chanunpa until it has been blessed and becomes an
instrument with which to pray.
red stone, pipestone, is very sacred. For a beginner with a new
chanunpa, I suggest the use of a stone other than pipestone.
Until one is certain this is the way they want to pray, it allows them
time to engage proper respect and usage.
My only message
to one who seeks such an instrument is to be careful for what you ask. You must understand the significance of a chanupa and how to use it. Know who are your teachers. If it is a Medicine person you want, then you will have to look hard. There are not many left.
They will not tell you who they are; there are no shingles outside their door.
They will not charge you to learn of spiritual things or to participate in a ceremony.
You will know them by their humbleness and the respect of those around them. As for myself, I am only a craftsperson who I believe has been given a gift by Spirit. The Creator can only judge the truth of this gift and I can make no other claim.
when commissioned to make a pipe for someone, I ask the person to send
me tobacco and tell me why they want what they seek. I hold the stone and pray with it. The stone shows me what is
inside, it is like the pipe is there, all I have to do is remove the
excise stone. I include a copy of my
little book with each commissioned pipe.
Original Snake Pipe
"T" pipe for males
Pipestone" elbow" pipe for females
If you would like to
discuss a personal hand crafted pipe, please feel free to contact me. I
do plain and effigy pipes. I prefer only to know the type of effigy and
let the stone decide what shape it will take. Contact