Courtesy New York State Museum, Albany, New York. Raymond G. Dann Collection.

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Calumets signaled peace or war, according to their decorations, and allowed participants to accomplish exchanges or negotiations while under their protection. The pipe was most often made of a red stone, catlinite, quarried in a region around the southwest corner of what is now Minnesota. This Plains style, T-shaped example, found at a mid to late 17th century Seneca Iroquois site in Monroe County, New York, is not Iroquois, but mid-continent in style. Although nearly all indigenous people of North America incorporated the use of tobacco into their religious ceremonies, the idea of the calumet and its significance probably originated among the Natives of the Great Lakes area. By the time of European contact, it was commonly practiced among the Natives of the Plains and Southeast. French traders may have helped to spread the idea of the calumet among the Indians of the Northeast; by the time of the signing of the 1701 Great Peace Treaty nearly all Eastern Indians knew what a calumet signified.

Date: circa 1675 
Topic: Ceremonial 
Materials: red pipestone
Dimensions: L: 6 in. (15.2 cm.) 
Accession #: NYSM #A-20920

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