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Use of pipestone at new NMAI prompts complaints

The new National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., has removed four stones of pipestone from a floor installation in response to complaints that the display was disrespectful.

Travis Erickson, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, was commissioned to make the display. He took the stones from the Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, Minnesota, where Lakota people go to quarry material for sacred pipes.

But the placement of the stones in the floor of the museum and the fact that Erickson was paid for them drew complaints from some Lakotas. NMAI director Rick West said he decided to remove them after speaking with tribal leaders and Indian staff at the museum.

The museum is opening September 21.

Get the Story:
Smithsonian's American Indian museum sparks controversy (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/6)
Pipestone primer (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/6)

Relevant Links:
Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers -
National Museum of American Indian -

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