Ojibwe Presentation Pipe | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Ojibwe Presentation Pipe

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Ojibwe Presentation Pipe | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeOjibwe pipe stem

Ojibwe pipe stem, 1844

Source: Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1955.399,A

EnlargeOjibwe pipe bowl

Ojibwe pipe bowl, 1844

Source: Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1955.399,A

Ojibwe pipe presented to Wisconsin territorial governor James Duane Doty, 1844.
(Museum object #1955.399,A)

Tay-che-gwi-au-nee, a member of an Ojibwe band from the south shore of Lake Superior, presented this pipe to Wisconsin's territorial governor James Duane Doty on behalf of his father, Chief Buffalo. Doty received the gift on February 12, 1844 at a council held at Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin, near present day Portage.

Dyed porcupine quills in white, orange, red, and brown decorate the wooden stem and form Thunderbird figures. Horsehair and remnants of pileated woodpecker scalp, with some remaining feathers, also ornament the pipe stem. The other half of the pipe stem is carved with round and rectangular shapes, their inner surfaces painted red. The coloring of the pipe today appears muted due to fading over time. Originally, the colors of the quillwork were much more vivid and the bright red woodpecker feathers made the pipe a visually striking piece.

The heavy pipe bowl is carved from the stone catlinite, quarried near the town of Pipestone in southwestern Minnesota. The relatively soft siltstone can be hand carved and drilled with stone or metal tools. One end of the pipe bowl has a carved figure commonly known as a Janus head, which represents two human faces pointing in opposite directions. On the bowl’s anterior ridge is carved a representation of a bison, which is a common symbol carved on pipes.

Effigy pipes such as this one had been used among Native Americans both religiously and secularly for many years prior to European contact. However, there are some details about this pipe that suggest it was manufactured for trade or presentation. For example, human head effigies were not carved wearing hats, as this one is, prior to European contact.


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Posted on February 11, 2005