Sacred Pipes were used in sacred, central rituals and tobacco ceremonies of Native Americans. Pipes were the most potent symbols in these rites demonstrating harmony and brotherly love. However, the Calumet was also used to offer prayers in religious rituals and ceremonies and during war councils.
Native American Life - Peace Pipe
The life, history and lifestyle of Native American Indians is a varied and fascinating subject. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on the Peace Pipe, also referred to as the Calumet. It was believed that tobacco was a gift from the Great Mystery, and that the exhaled tobacco smoke carried thoughts and prayers to heaven.
Peace Pipe Fact Sheet for kids
- Peace Pipe Fact 1: The name of the Otoe Native American Indian, in the above picture by George Catlin, is Wée-ke-rú-law, meaning "He Who Exchanges". He holds a pipe carved with an effigy
- Peace Pipe Fact 2: The French word 'calumet' means "pipe" is derived from the Latin word 'calamus' meaning "something made or shaped like a reed"
- Peace Pipe Fact 3: Fire symbolized the heart of the Native American people and its smoke, which could be created in pipes, carried prayers to the Great Spirit
- Peace Pipe Fact 4: Pipes are believed to have originated in the Southeast, and early tube pipes have been found in the ancient burial mounds
- Peace Pipe Fact 5: The use of sacred pipes in religious ceremonies and rituals spread across the length and breadth of the North American continent and became an important part of the culture of the Native Americans.
- Peace Pipe Fact 6: Sacred Pipes were considered as holy objects and treated with great veneration. They were the containers that held a burning offering and linked the user, via the stem and the smoke, to the unseen world and the Great Spirit.
- Peace Pipe Fact 7: The distinguishing characteristic of the sacred pipes is that the bowl is separable from the stem and the two parts are kept apart except during ritual use
- Peace Pipe Fact 8: The two parts equated to the pairing of female and male spiritual powers which, when combined, results in creation. The stem was symbolically male and the bowl was symbolically female
- Peace Pipe Fact 9: It was only when the stem was inserted in the bowl that the pipe became potent. The two parts were therefore kept apart and only joined at the beginning of the sacred ceremonies, and separated at the end of the ritual.
- Peace Pipe Fact 10: A common material used by many of the Plains Indians for making the calumet bowls was red Minnesota pipestone or catlinite. other redstones came Wisconsin, Ohio and Alabama. But many other different types and colors were also used. The Yuchi & Creek tribes used mostly argillite (black) and dolostones. The Cherokee often used a dark greenstone that which they often darkened with a walnut stain
- Peace Pipe Fact 11: The design and size of the Peace pipes varied according to the purpose and symbolism of its use. Some were constructed with a very long stem that enabled the, often hot, pipe to be offered with both hands.