Native American Peace Pipe

The pipe is traditionally used as a token of peace and prayer. The peace pipe is also sometimes referred to as a calumet or a medicine pipe.

The stone of the pipe's bowl is made out of different material, which varies from tribe to tribe. The Cherokee and Chickasaw use aged river clay which is hardened over a fire. Red pipestone, made from Catlinite, a soft quartzite slate, is used by Eastern tribes such as the Iroquois and Waccamaw, Western and Great Basin tribes such as the Ute and Bannock, and Plains tribes such as the Comanche and Sioux. Blue pipestone is also made of Catlinite and is used primarily by the Plains tribes, but also the Cherokee, Creek, and Chickasaw. The Shoshone, Ute, and Plain Tribes have made pipe bowls out of green pipestone while the Plain Tribes have also used black pipestone. The Uncompahgre Ute have used salmon alabaster to make peace pipe bowls.

The Native American peace pipe is made using the same skills and tools used to create bow and arrows. The peace pipe may be made entirely of stone or have a wooden stem. The pipe is filled with tobacco or a mixture tobacco and the bark of the red willow.

The ceremony of smoking the peace pipe begins with the loading of the tobacco and then the participants sit in a circle. Next is the acknowledgement of the four directions, Mother Earth, and Father Sky. As the pipe is smoked, many tribes believe the smoke carries prayers and words to the Creator, so promises made at the ceremony should never be broken. Then, an offering is made to the Great Spirit by holding up the pipe up with the stem pointing towards the sky.

Peace pipes can be purchased at souvenir shops on most reservations, but remember that the Native Americans think of the peace pipe as being a spiritual tool and it should be used appropriately, if at all.

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