The Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers is a non-profit 501C3 cooperation. Which began on Aug. 24, 1996 with a meeting of Tribal people in Pipestone, MN. This small group of Pipemakers and spiritual leaders voted overwhelmingly in favor of starting a Native American Indian organization to carry on this over 1,000 year old tradition of pipemaking and preserve itís oral and written histories.
Decisions are made by a board of directors, which is elected every four years during our annual meeting. Currently our board consists of enrolled members of the Ojibwe, Dakota, and Cherokee tribes. We strive to be inclusive and except members from all nations of people. We have members in 26 states and 6 foreign countries. These members inclusively represent people from 35 different tribal nations.
Much of the work at the Keepers is done, by our many talented and knowledgeable members who volunteer their time and expertise. While our Bookkeeping, grant writing, and presenters are paid commissions or contracted out. Our funding has been generously provided by The Shakopee Mdewakenton Sioux Community, members, local businesses, and commissions from our gift shop sales.
We are the proud owners of a small single story light yellow brick depot which sits on the North end of the town of Pipestone in Minnesota, it was built in 1890 and was a small depot 26 X 80 feet. The depot was built by Burlington Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway but was soon bought by Rock Island and Pacific Railway in June of 1902. During this time Pipestone was a growing community with an Indian Reservation and Indian School just north of this facility. The depot agent here allowed Joe Taylor a local American Indian craftsman to carve Pipestone pipes and articles under a tarp in front of the depot and even allowed him to board the trains to sell his carvings. During this time this ancient art of Pipecarving was nearly lost and we believe that this depot was an important part of keeping these traditions alive. If it had not been for the agents generosity and willingness to help there would have been no place for this artist to perpetuate his art and today his grandsons would not be here continuing their Grandfathers legacy. Yes, Lee and Butch Taylor the grandsonís of Joe Taylor are today here at this depot, members of our organization, carving and selling their Pipestone pipes just as their grandfather had done over 70 years ago. Our Gift shop and Gallery is primarily a consignment shop which allows numerous artists, including the Taylors, a chance to exhibit and market their creations.
When we heard that this facility was available we were excited about obtaining the building for this very reason. We immediately applied for a grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and received $50,000. We used these funds to purchase the depot in the spring of 1997 and immediately began working on restoring this Historic building with much of the labor donated by our members. Our efforts have transformed a vacant and dying building into a colorful, living and useful part of our community. We now have a small coffee shop, gift shop, gallery, and office housed within this facility. The cargo room has even become a classroom used by the Title IX American Indian Education program.
We are in need of funds to repair the exterior surfaces of the building as the mortar has begun to crack and fall away from the soft yellow hand puged bricks. Currently large steal piping and clamps hold the huge quartzite blocks in their places so they do donít fall from the top of the structure. These pipes were only a temporary solution until the money could be raised to repair the building in the correct fashion. This Building is therefore in dire need of tuck pointing to fix these problems and secure the quartzite caps. A roof is also needed as due to age and our sometimes violent weather. In the past couple of years we have lost large sections of roofing which have been replace repeatedly only to be blown down again. We need to replace the roofing with something of better quality and would like to find the funding to replace the original slate roof. The slate was replaced in the sixties to update the building after the Rock Island Railroad declared Bankruptcy and the depot was obtained by St. Leoís Catholic Church.
Last but not least we have began restoring the original wooden deck which was on the depot and was replaced in 1920 with brick. The bricks which make up the deck currently are cracked, broken and heaving from the ground creating a hazard for tourist who stop to visit our facilities. We think that it is important to consider the safety and security of the property. We have planned and have the approval of Pipestone Historical to replace the wooden platform, put in historically correct lighting, landscaping and a security system. The depots restoration will cost an estimated $80,000 but further delays could most likely increase that figure as the property further deteriorates and costs of materials increase.
These old buildings are being torn down at a alarming rate. Pipestone Indian School once had over 56 buildings all built around the turn of the century and 4 depots 3 of which are now gone forever. All our communities are being to look like the next; with no culture, tradition, art, or heritage. We hope to keep this last remaining depot open to remind us of our rich past and promising future and to provide a place for continuing to showcase the arts and heritage of the entire community.
Bud Johnston President
Rona Moore Secretary Treasurer
Update June 2003 We have re-tuck pointed the building for a cool $16,500 which we are still paying for but the building is now safe from falling down. We are still in great need of a new roof and need money to buy materials for this project. We have also had some plumbing problems which we may have to remove the bathroom floor to solve. It seems that cement some how got into the pipes under the flooring and restrict the water flow. Jack hammers make much noise and are a mess but the only way to take up a cement floor. Wish us luck. Or stop by and lend a hand.State Zip
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Thanks, Megwetch, Mado, Pida-miya