Administrative History
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By the mid-1950s, Pipestone National Monument was in dire need of capital development. The energetic leadership provided by its early superintendents had been responsible for the beginnings of a professional management regime, but the physical facilities at Pipestone remained substandard. Following the Second World War, NPS officials found themselves facing incredible increases in visitation without any kind of budget for the improvement of facilities. Nationwide, the agency tried stopgap measures to prevent further decline in service and facilities, but the resources at its disposal were nowhere near adequate. In the funding climate of the early 1950s, development at Pipestone appeared to be a long way off.

But the increased affluence of American society and the importance of the national park system as a symbol of American culture made greater development possible. Adept lobbying by NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth and the response to pronouncements of decline in the quality of the park system by critics led to the advent of a new program. MISSION 66, a ten-year capital development program funded by Congress designed to improve park facilities in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Park Service in 1966, inaugurated a new era in the park system. Like the New Deal twenty years before, MISSION 66 reshaped the park system and the priorities of the National Park Service. [1]

The modern era at Pipestone began with MISSION 66. As a result of the developments of the program, Pipestone became a modern park area with all the advantages of that status, as well as its occasional drawbacks. The development program for Pipestone allowed the Park Service to construct a physical plant that supported agency and visitor activities.

The genesis of MISSION 66 derived from the master planning process that had become standard throughout the agency. Hummel's preliminary historical development report early in 1940 recommended "sufficient space" for administration and some exhibits for visitors, but clearly did not envision a visitor center of the kind built at many parks during the New Deal. [2] The first master plan at the monument was developed in 1942. Like many similar plans, it was a place to begin rather than a comprehensive approach to the future. Some of the suggestions Hummel made were incorporated in the plan, but budget limitations hampered the ability of the NPS to alter the situation at the monument. Most of the implementation occurred in areas such as interpretation and maintenance. In 1951, the loop entry road was closed and other improvements made, but other than the construction of the contact station and the superintendent's quarters, little construction had been completed.

Yet the planning process continued, yielding by 1948 a facsimile of what the Park Service would build. There were problems with the initial plan. It located the headquarters atop a ridge made of Sioux Quartzite, one of the hardest types of rock. This would have made the construction process extraordinarily expensive, and in 1949, plans were made to locate the headquarters on a more advantageous construction site. A new master plan, developed in 1952, codified this change and offered up more comprehensive possibilities. It included a complete development plan, a museum and administrative area housed in a visitor center, and other amenities, but was clearly relegated to the wish list until the advent of more affluent times for the Park Service. [3]

As late as the middle of the decade, NPS officials foresaw little opportunity to construct new facilities at Pipestone. In October 1955, the Park Service completed a remodeling project in the visitor contact station that added a number of new exhibits. Despite the development, the new enclosed facility was clearly inadequate within months of its opening. [4] Investment in a temporary project suggested that more permanent development was still a long time in the future.

When MISSION 66 was inaugurated in 1955, it began a rapid transformation of Pipestone National Monument. Development plans for all kinds of park activities were devised almost instantaneously, in an effort to spend the money allocated for improving facilities and programs. The rapid increase in visitation—to more than 60,000 by 1956 and projected to reach 100,000 by 1966—was the primary justification for development. The opportunity to present a realistic picture of Native Americans, their customs, and the importance of the calumet, also added significance, as did the need for curatorial storage and facilities to house and maintain the collection at the monument. [5]

There were other reasons for developing Pipestone National Monument. In 1958, Minnesota celebrated 100 years of statehood, and Pipestone remained the only operating national park area in the state. Although Grand Portage National Historic Site had been authorized in 1951 and became a national monument in September 1958, formal establishment did not occur until 1960. As a result, Pipestone was the only place in Minnesota where visitors could have contact with the Park Service in 1958. In addition, 1958 marked the 100th anniversary of the treaty that designated the one-square-mile Pipestone reserved area. NPS officials wished to have the visitor center ready for the beginning of the 1958 travel season. [6]

The museum prospectus became the driving instrument in the process of preparing to develop the monument. The prospectus called for rapid development of a building design, an exhibit plan, and the rest of the documentation necessary to begin full-scale development. Recognizing the opportunity that existed, other branches in the Park Service expedited their plans. In July 1957, the exhibit plan for Pipestone received the approval of Director Conrad L. Wirth, who had become head of the Park Service in 1954. With unusual speed, the ingredients necessary to support the development project came together. [7] After almost twenty years in the park system, Pipestone reached the pinnacle of the Park Service's list of priorities.

Budgeted at more than $250,000, the project progressed rapidly. By the spring of 1958, the project was nearing completion. A one-story brick visitor center with an entrance constructed of attractive Sioux quartzite gradually took shape. It was located near the center of the monument, as had been dictated by the revised master plan in 1952. Roadwork, parking areas, a wayside exhibit, and utilities were also built. [8]

In July 1958, the NPS dedicated its newly completed project. A range of dignitaries, including Rep. H. Carl Andersen, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Karl Rolvaag, National Park Service Regional Director Howard W. Baker, Winifred Bartlett, and Dr. Walter G. Benjamin, came to hear Director Wirth deliver the dedicatory address. Wirth took the opportunity to trumpet the success of the MISSION 66 program and the importance of the monument. [9] It was a triumph for his home region, his agency, and the primary plan of his directorship.

The completed visitor center signaled tremendous changes in the way visitors experienced Pipestone. As at many similar park areas, the NPS inherited unsatisfactory physical facilities and a layout that did not reflect the standards and goals of the agency. The activities of the 1940s and 1950s brought NPS interpretation and care to the resources of the monument, but were not sufficient to turn the quarries and the contact station into a modern park area. Only the construction of the visitor center, set up at the end of the approach road and located between the parking lot and the quarries, established the NPS presence and made Pipestone equal to other park areas.

Control of access to historic and prehistoric locations in the park system had long been the defining moment in the history of a national park area. With a physical plant that oriented visitors as well as served as barrier between the modern world and the prehistoric and historic, Pipestone joined the modern park system. The visitor center at Pipestone reflected the established practice of the agency, learned through experience at parks as diverse as Casa Grande and Bandelier. Its location allowed the Park Service a much greater degree of influence on the experience of visitors. [10] With an enhanced physical plant to augment successful interpretive programming, Pipestone seemed sure to play a significant role in the regional economy.

MISSION 66 for Pipestone mandated the expansion of the permanent and seasonal staff, a necessary step as the plans to build the visitor center began to come together. The new situations would require additional personnel to support the expanded mission of the monument. The second permanent staff member, Park Historian Lloyd A. Abelson, arrived in August 1957 to join Superintendent Paul L. Webb, and a clerk was added early in 1960. In addition, the seasonal staff grew to one ranger and four maintenance people. By the time MISSION 66 for Pipestone ended in 1959, the park had been physically and financially transformed. [11]

Pipestone became one of the first success stories of MISSION 66. Although the project at the monument proceeded quickly, some MISSION 66 programs faltered. Some ran into construction delays, while others were the victim of poor planning or weak leadership at some level. Congressional interest evaporated rapidly, and support for the program faltered. In an effort to save what had become the most important program in agency history, NPS officials began to collect information to tell the story of MISSION 66. In 1959, Pipestone was selected as one of the best places to illustrate the importance of the program and its successes. It offered an opportunity to show the impact of the program on small communities and their economies, the increase in spending in the town as a result of the growing number of visitors and their lengthened stays, and direct and indirect growth in employment opportunity for local people. The NPS planned to use the evidence in upcoming congressional hearings. [12]

The pride in the accomplishment at Pipestone was not misplaced. Visitors responded with enthusiasm to the improved facilities of the monument. Approximately five percent of visitors to the monument were surveyed in 1959. Of those, 98 percent reported that they enjoyed their visit, would return, and would recommend that others visit the monument. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed said that they came to the area only to visit the monument, and 72 percent said that they stopped at businesses in the town of Pipestone. "No tax money is lost when spent on the Park Service," Mr. and Mrs. C. Winter of Detroit, Michigan, wrote, and their sentiments were echoed by other visitors. Such a response to the development was what NPS officials wanted to show Congress. [13]

It also illustrated an important new reality for the leading visitor service agency of the federal government. The democratization of travel changed the kind of person who visited national park areas. A developed area such as Pipestone attracted a more middle-class, mainstream, summer vacation audience than did an undeveloped area. A complex conditioning process was occurring; visitors began to rank parks by their facilities as much as by their features. It seemed to the public that the most important parks had the newest facilities precisely because the amenities at such places were of recent vintage. In some cases, the facilities became more important than the reason for preserving the park area. The newly developed Pipestone National Monument had broader appeal because its museum exhibits and facilities distilled its message into a form the public easily understood. The interpretive material at the monument reflected the perceptions of Americans of that time.

The people of the Pipestone community were also impressed with the new development. Little more than a decade before, the monument had been an embarrassment and local leaders had lobbied to wrest control from the Park Service. But the new development made the monument the main attraction in the Pipestone community, and local leaders such as Robert C. Palmer, the president of the Pipestone Civic and Commerce Association, recognized that the monument meant "several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in additional income" for local businesses. He expected it to increase into the million-dollar range in the near future. From its position as an insignificant attraction to locals, a fact reflected as late as 1959 in the paucity of signs for the monument in the town, Pipestone National Monument had become an important part of the local economy. [14]

The completion of MISSION 66 at Pipestone and its success changed the management responsibilities of the Park Service. Consolidating the gains became the dominant theme of management as the park went from an era of rapid development to one of sustained growth. Making a successful transition from being an area with limited use to a developed one dominated management priorities. Managing growth and making that growth serve the needs of visitors were two distinctly different responsibilities. For more than a decade following the dedication of the new visitor center, administrators at Pipestone sought to become accustomed to the new management situation. The improvement in agency facilities demanded more comprehensive approaches to management, and superintendents Paul L. Webb, W. Dean McClanahan, Carl R. Stoddard, and Ralph K. Shaver sought to implement NPS policy, preserve the resources of the monument, provide visitors with an enjoyable and educational experience, and maintain, the quality of services at the monument.

Finding the optimal balance of seasonal and permanent personnel and defining their responsibilities became a priority for park superintendents. A management study suggested reallocation of positions from the MISSION 66 proposal. Team members recognized that the limits of the travel season and the nature of the people of Pipestone made a permanent winter staff something of a liability. It fed the inclination of local people to regard government employment as a sinecure. Since local people understood only the visible aspects of Park Service responsibility—principally visitor service—a full-time winter staff that appeared to do nothing was something the Park Service could not afford. From a full-time equivalency [FTE] of 6.3 in the MISSION 66 proposal, the management team subtracted .5 total FTE and recommended keeping the permanent staff at three instead of increasing it to four. During the 1960s, three more seasonal rangers were added, making the total staff eleven people during the heavy travel season. [15]

Pipestone personnel had long-standing ties in the community, and during the 1960s, active participation by the park staff strengthened the existing relationship. Pipestone National Monument was the creation of local people, many of whom, such as Winifred Bartlett, remained active in community affairs. They regarded the monument as their creation and looked favorably on its growth and development. Superintendents such as Paul L. Webb, who was extremely popular in the community, were active in local organizations, further enhancing the reputation of the agency. Cooperative agreements that covered a range of services further linked the town and the park. The monument received many essential services, such as garbage removal, electricity and water supply, road and trail maintenance, and telephone service, from the local community. [16] This allowed the Park Service to avoid building its own utility and sewage management system, an expensive and time-consuming management issue.

The community also benefitted. A national park area was a first-class attraction that brought visitors and the money to the town. The monument and its association with the historic past conveyed a certain prestige to the area at a time when it became harder and harder for small towns to survive. The boost to the economy created by MISSION 66 was also important. The links between the community and the park were strong. The growing pattern of interdependence illustrated the way in which the Park Service and local communities could cooperate and showed one of the many ways in which the park returned federal dollars to the area.

Throughout the 1960s, park leaders firmed up ties and improved services. Visitation increased, confirming the expectations of the Park Service and the local community. Superintendents continued to try to make Pipestone meet agency standards in areas as diverse as resources management, interpretation, and maintenance. As a result of the MISSION 66 program, Pipestone National Monument skipped a generation in the evolution of the park system. In the 1960s, it was one of the few park areas where visitation and the level of amenities and facilities provided were commensurate.

By the end of the 1960s, the U.S. was in the middle of a period of cultural upheaval. Spurred in part by the affluence that followed the Second World War, American intervention in Southeast Asia, and broad-based optimism about the perfectibility of American society, Americans sought to change the way in which their nation operated. Many conceived of a more inclusive ethic that allowed wider latitude in cultural expression. In the middle of the decade, the civil rights movement expanded from African-American issues in the South to include Mexican-Americans and Native Americans in the West. [17]

As the rules of American society changed, agencies such as the National Park Service had to become more responsive. During the 1960s, the agency encouraged Native Americans, African-Americans, and other minorities to seek careers in park management. A number of talented minorities found themselves in leadership positions, usually at parks with themes that reflected their heritage. For Native Americans, the rise to superintendency had little to do with tribal background. Most who achieved leadership positions began federal careers after military service and some college. [18] The rise to leadership had more to do with perceptions that these people understood and valued the way the Park Service operated than with any sense of their Native American identity.

In 1968, a new superintendent, Cecil D. Lewis, Jr., arrived at Pipestone. Sac and Fox, Delaware, and Potowatomi Indian, Lewis had grown up on the Navajo reservation, where his family worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In the proximity of Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Canyon de Chelly, he became infatuated with the national parks. After military service in Korea, he hired on as a seasonal employee. Lewis recognized that completing his college education would further his chances of a permanent position and subsequent advancement in the NPS. With his degree in hand, he became a permanent employee in 1960. After stints at the Southwest Archeological Center in Globe, Arizona, and Bryce Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain national parks, in April 1968 he became superintendent at Pipestone National Monument. [19]

With the support of NPS Director George B. Hartzog, Jr., who personally selected him for the position, Lewis brought new goals and priorities to the monument. The primary objective he set was greater participation for Native Americans in the activities of the park and increased interpretation of native culture. Lewis sought the support of the regional office to run Pipestone "as an Indian area as opposed to in the old sense a national monument." [20]

Lewis' plans resulted in an effort to develop a Native American cultural center at Pipestone. George "Standing Eagle" Bryan, one of the most venerable quarriers and pipemakers and a frequent employee of the monument, offered the genesis of the idea just after Lewis arrived. Frank Fools Crow, a traditional Oglala Medicine Man who had been present at the opening of the pipe bundle on the Cheyenne River Reservation, also supported the idea. [21] He perceived in it the opportunity for whites and Indians to better understand each other. Lewis recognized the importance of the idea, but it was the following summer before the superintendent could begin to implement his plans. On a trip to Omaha, where he met with Hartzog, Lewis presented a rough conceptual idea for building a center to preserve Indian crafts and craft-making. [22]

Lewis' proposal was a direct response to the agenda established by Richard M. Nixon's first secretary of the interior, Walter J. Hickel. When he took office early in 1969, Hickel established eleven policy guidelines for management of the park system. One called for programs that enhanced cultural, recreational, and economic opportunities for native peoples. [23] An Alaskan, Hickel entered office with an important crisis looming in the future of the department and his state—the Alaskan native land claims issue. Pro-development, he needed to cultivate an image of sensitivity to native issues. His policy guidelines were one step toward developing a public posture that allowed him to openly support more development and a smaller land base for native Alaskans.

Hickel's goals inspired the initial proposal, and with encouragement from the regional office, Lewis proceeded. He sought to invite Hickel and Hartzog to one of the performances of the Hiawatha Pageant as an opportunity for presenting the proposal for the craft center. Minnesota Governor Harold E. LeVander, a Republican, planned to attend the July 18, 1969, performance, and since Hickel and the governor shared party affiliation, Lewis thought it a good opportunity. He planned to have George Bryan present Hickel with a ceremonial pipe as a prelude to introducing his plan. [24]

Although Hickel ultimately declined the invitation to visit Pipestone, Lewis continued to develop the proposal. At the Midwest Regional Superintendents Conference in Omaha that summer, Lewis enlisted the support of his peers. In September, he, Paul McCrary of the Midwest Regional Office, and Don Ripley of Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area traveled to three Department of the Interior cultural centers, in Rapid City, South Dakota, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Anadarko, Oklahoma, to see what they could learn. They used the experience to add new dimensions to the proposal for what they called the "Upper Midwest American Indian Cultural Crafts Center." In September 1969, the proposal went to the director. [25]

The plan was impressive. With a proposed budget of upwards of $500,000, it recommended the construction of a building of more than 3,600 square feet, 2,600 of which would be for work and exhibit space and the remainder for storage and utilities. It included ample room for visitors to view craft demonstrators, permanent wall and floor exhibitions, and space for the sale of pipestone materials and other related crafts. In the project, eight to ten rental trailers to house visiting Native American crafts people were proposed. Rental housing was in short supply in the town of Pipestone, and craftspeople would have to relocate to the area if the program were to succeed. [26]

In February 1970, Lewis' planning came to fruition. Included in President Nixon's budget for fiscal 1971 was $487,000 for the project. Simultaneously, the regional office in Omaha announced plans to construct the center. As suggested in the proposal, it was to be built adjacent to the rear of the visitor center, away from the parking lot. A six-unit apartment building for temporary housing was to replace the mobile trailers in the initial plan. On paper, the facility was impressive. "Maybe I robbed from Yellowstone," Lewis laughingly remembered two decades later when asked about the scope of the project. [27]

The center added greatly to the interpretive capabilities of the monument. It included demonstration booths, video displays where visitors could view short movies about pipemaking, bead and quill embroidery, leatherwork, painting, weaving, birchbark craft work, as well as exhibits of similar craftwork from the modern era, and cross-cultural exchange of artifacts such as knives, guns, blankets, and beads. The sales counter of the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association, which in 1969 purchased $28,870 in crafts from Native Americans, was also included. [28]

The cultural center was part of a larger program to preserve craftmaking traditions, utilize the skills of area Indians, and teach them to manage natural and cultural resources. Lewis traveled to many of the reservations in South Dakota, where he sought the input of various tribal councils. Their contributions shaped the program. The initial plan called for full-time demonstrators who would serve as instructors for younger Native Americans. Pipemaking and other crafts were to be taught to students, who would then go home with a marketable skill and a knowledge to transmit to their peers. Some Native Americans were to stay at the park during the winters to learn resource management skills for use at reservation parks and cultural areas. [29]

The result was supposed to be a revival of native arts and crafts, an opportunity for Indians to develop a livelihood, and better management of Native American holdings in tribal museums. But "the money didn't come," one park staffer remembered, and the program changed. No one to teach craft skills could be found, and as Vietnam-era inflation began to affect federal spending, there was no money to hire them anyway. Instead of an educational experiment, a demonstration program evolved. [30]

The program that emerged was part expedience, part education. Cultural demonstrators were hired each summer to display Indian craft and pipemaking skills. Many of the initial demonstrators were from families with long histories at the quarry, limiting the impact of the program on potential craftspeople from nearby reservations. Yet visitors found the demonstrations compelling, and throughout the 1970s, the program grew, reaching seven demonstrators in 1977. Their work quickly became one of the most important focuses of interpretation at Pipestone. It offered a unique feature, for the demonstrators at Pipestone were not reenactors, but genuine practitioners of the cultures they portrayed.

This unique situation compelled different management strategies. Interpretation at Pipestone followed Native American custom more than NPS manuals. Involved in historic practice and ritual, Native American interpreters simply worked their material, answering questions but usually volunteering little. While Indian interpretation was not like that of NPS personnel, who focused on explaining culture in a standardized manner that utilized the educational level of the public, the way Indians made traditional crafts offered a measure of reality different from that to which the American public was accustomed. [31]

The Park Service supported the demonstration program, but left its management to the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association. The association had a long history of supporting native arts in the region, and with the addition of cooperation between the nearby Flandreau, South Dakota, Indian school and the Park Service, a situation that benefitted all developed. Native skills and craftmaking were transmitted to younger Indians and made available to the public, and park visitors received a special kind of interpretation.

Not every feature associated with the cultural center succeeded. The six-unit apartment building was not popular with visiting demonstrators and became a headache for park managers. It was a relic of the planned teaching program and did not fit in the changed situation. There were problems with maintenance of the structure. Initially, the sewer could not be hooked up because of the nearly $100,000 cut from the budget between the proposal for the center and its implementation. The building remained unusable until money could be found to hook up the sewer. In one later instance, two to three feet of snow blew into the area between ceilings and the roof and melted, necessitating expensive and time-consuming cleanup. Park rangers had to climb into the area and scoop the snow out by hand. Worse, the building had little appeal for Native Americans, who preferred off-site mobile homes, trailers, or other accommodations. [32]

As a result, park officials sought new tenants. In 1978, three of the six apartments were leased to the local school district and vocational education institute on a renewable ten-year basis. In 1989, the apartment building was sold and removed from the park area. During the spring of 1989, restoration of the ground began.

The cultural center also inspired bold interpretive planning for the visitor center. The exhibits in the visitor center had been put together in 1958 and they reflected the time of their genesis. New planning recommended greater reverence in the explanation of the importance of the ceremonial pipe and in the overall treatment of Native American religions. The prospectus also recommended displaying pipes "in profusion," a plaque or some other form of recognition for Winifred Bartlett, a reproduction gallery of nineteenth-century art that depicted Plains Indians, and an explanation of the impact of artist/explorers George Catlin and Karl Bodmer. It also recommended a new audiovisual presentation, expanding on the existing presentation of the White Buffalo Calf legend, depicting religious use of the pipe. Social uses of smoking added a dimension, as would the use of Lakota language translated by a narrator. Another movie, this one interpreting the rise and fall of the horse-bison culture, was also recommended. The issues the film could address had much wider application than Pipestone National Monument alone. [33]

The final interpretive prospectus recommended radical changes in the interpretive scheme of the museum. Of all the existing exhibits, only the diorama depicting prehistoric quarrying was to be retained. A number of exhibits were to be dropped, and others were to be incorporated into new exhibits. The plan proposed more than $112,000 in changes to the visitor center and an additional $66,700 for the cultural center. [34] Such an interpretation scheme would reflect the increased commitment of resources to the park. But the prospectus was not implemented.

The Upper Midwest American Indian Cultural Center and the interpretive prospectus ended the second period of rapid growth for the monument. After absorbing the MISSION 66 improvements, sustained management appeared close at hand, but the new developments spurred a second period of growth. After the construction of the center and the completion of the interpretive plan, the park was essentially complete. There was little need for further capital development, and the plans for upgrading interpretation were in place. Finding the resources to implement quality programs became the real issue.

The construction of the center strengthened the ties between the Park Service and the local Native American community. Superintendent Don Thompson, who followed two Indian superintendents when he arrived in 1971, recalled that he, park staff, local Indians, and the community formed touch football and softball teams and leagues. There were also a number of "sweats" held in a sweat lodge in the park. A Medicine Man from the Rosebud Sioux reservation, Charles Kills Enemy, built the lodge. On five occasions, Thompson participated in the ceremony. [35] The increased level of social and ceremonial interaction built on the professional and personnel ties that already existed. It also illustrated the importance of the monument in the life of everybody in town.

Yet despite the investment in the monument and the many advantages of the cultural center, its construction highlighted a historic problem at Pipestone. The monument was anomalous in the Midwest Region, a situation that its relative proximity to the regional office in Omaha did little to alleviate. From Fort Larned and Fort Scott in Kansas to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, most of the others parks in the region interpreted the history of Euro-American experience.

Despite Catlin and Longfellow, Pipestone did not fit easily with that heritage. Most parks with Native American themes were located farther west, in the Rocky Mountain, Southwest, or Western regions. The administrative questions at Pipestone more resembled those at Canyon de Chelly or Navajo national monuments, and Native American themes and issues remained a top priority for park administrators. In the politicized climate of the time, superintendents at Pipestone spent much time in contact with their peers in other regions. [36]

The problems of Pipestone were underscored in 1971, when national park areas in Minnesota were transferred to the Northeast Regional Office, located in Philadelphia. This region, since retitled the Mid-Atlantic Region, administered many Revolutionary War and industrial revolution parks as well as the a significant number of the rapidly expanding category of urban national park areas. Pipestone was even more anomalous in the Northeast Region. Ironically at the same time, the Midwest Region added national park areas in Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Pipestone shared common themes and issues with many of these parks. Park administrators experienced some relief in January 1974, when a major realignment of national park system boundaries returned Pipestone to the Midwest Region. [37]

By the mid-1970s, a sustained management mode came to govern decision-making at Pipestone. The monument was much like many other small areas in the park system. Its facilities and level of staffing were comparable, its issues similiar, and its prospects about the same. Administrative priorities in 1975 included management and preservation of the quarries through permit use by Indians and education for visitors, interpretation of native cultures, and the preservation and restoration of prairie areas within the park. Pipestone National Monument moved toward integrated management.

The planning process that had become increasingly important in the park system helped establish continuity in decision-making. The existence of prepared documents and the evolving practice of listing area priorities helped park managers retain consistent objectives even with the typical frequency of staff turnover within the Park Service. Superintendents and staff still determined priorities, but on the basis of the priorities established by their predecessors. Pipestone moved toward more orderly and planned growth and change than in the past.

But by the 1980s, the Park Service was in crisis. Changes in culture and character in the agency in the 1960s and 1970s affected relationships between the parks, regional offices, and the Washington office. After Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall forced out NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth in 1964, the Park Service scrambled to retain its familiar exalted position inside the capital Beltway. The selection of George Hartzog, a man with extensive agency experience, to succeed Wirth held off the changing climate, but a new level of precedent had been established. Earlier directors such as Newton B. Drury had been forced out in political situations, but never had the directorship of the NPS become a political perquisite. The firing of Hartzog and the appointment of Nixon assistant Ronald Walker, an insurance executive with little experience in the parks, in 1972 was evidence of the change. The remainder of the 1970s were disastrous for the Park Service, as a series of directors who could not inspire the rank-and-file came and went. Only with the ascension of career NPS official Russell Dickenson to the directorship in 1980 did the pattern begin to change. [38]

But Dickenson's administration faced problems of its own. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 brought a new mode of operation to the federal bureaucracy. For the national park system, it had a mixed effect. Secretary of the Interior James Watt sought to privatize some public land, and emphasize the development of visitor amenities at existing parks instead of the acquisition of new areas. [39] This seemed to bode well for Pipestone, but in actuality, Watt's development schemes focused on the grandiose scenic parks. With its newly completed physical plant, Pipestone was in no position to compete for resources.

In the late 1980s, agency officials were able to step out from under the iron hand of Watt and his successors, William Clark and Donald Hodel, and shift their objectives back to acquisition of new areas. But as the economic climate declined after the oil bust in 1985 and the savings and loan scandal a few years later, funding problems resulted. New parks were created, but their needs sometimes drained resources from other areas. The pool of funding for parks was not growing, and established areas like Pipestone found themselves with constant or shrinking budgets as a result of the addition of new park areas.

As leadership in the agency became increasingly politicized throughout 1970s, Park Service culture and the morale of NPS staff suffered. The appointment of Russell Dickenson as director in 1980 was clearly an effort to fashion a return to earlier agency values. But as rangers in the field toiled for many years without adequate pay or housing, and many times, without hope of career advancement, park-level staff throughout the system perceived a growing gap between national policy and objectives and local and regional needs. Attrition became an agency problem, as many younger, talented people left the Park Service for other careers. [40]

More strict enforcement of government regulations compounded the problems of agency personnel. A new bureaucratic mentality began to emerge in the agency as many suffered from burnout or found that they were discouraged from treating their jobs as anything more than a forty-hour-per-week obligation. The Park Service traditionally had been an organization with deep commitment. Individual rangers often worked "off the clock," on their own time, to assure that everything was accomplished at their area. By the 1980s, insurance regulations, the problems with compensation for time worked after hours, and other similar concerns limited the intense commitment park-level staff across the system once felt. Despite Dickenson's appointment and the subsequent rise in morale, the old Park Service was gone for good.

At Pipestone, these changes created a feeling of being left out. Park objectives were not always supported by higher administrative personnel, nor were resources available for many important projects. Park personnel expressed growing frustration, a sentiment shared by employees throughout the park system. Despite its impressive physical plant, Pipestone seemed again a remote place, far from the mainstream of a rapidly changing agency.

The sustained management mode continued at Pipestone. Superintendents David Lane and Vincent Halvorson, who collectively served from 1973 into the 1990s, found that a number of management issues intrinsic to the nature of the park dominated their administrations. Pipestone's unique commitment to Native Americans, its role in the local community, the atypical function of the cooperating association, and relations with other resource management agencies defined the limits of park management.

The Pipestone Indian Shrine Association became an increasingly complicated management issue for the park. Since its reinvigoration in the mid-1950s, the association and the park had close working relations. When the sales counter that the association ran was located in the museum, rangers often worked the desk. After the construction of the cultural center, rangers handled some of the purchases of pipes from Native Americans, but no longer worked in sales. Superintendents and chief rangers from the park sat on the shrine association board, and the NPS had a reasonable amount of influence in its decision-making. Late in the 1970s, changes in NPS policy led to declining influence of the park on the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association, as the Park Service adopted more of a hands-off approach in the affairs of the association. [41]

Since its founding, the shrine association had a broader mandate than most NPS cooperating associations. This bifurcated mission had the potential to cause problems. The educational activities of the shrine association were typical, but the marketing of pipestone pipes and artifacts was an area into which most cooperating groups did not venture. Their sales items were usually limited to books, trail guides, postcards, and other mementos of a place.

As NPS influence on Pipestone Indian Shrine Association declined, marketing pipestone artifacts took on greater importance. Each year, the association purchased more and more pipestone from local Native Americans, its catalogue business grew bigger, and it became more of an institution. After the Park Service limited its influence on the association, its priorities began to change in a manner that some in and out of the agency questioned.

Late in the 1980s, two local Native Americans, Loren Zephier and Mitch Walking Elk, challenged the shrine association. The politics of being Native American had again developed public militancy, and some felt that the shrine association, despite its overwhelmingly Native American managerial and sales staff, was not closely linked to the Indian community. This spurred park officials to question whether it was appropriate for an NPS cooperating association to market artifacts and material that may have religious significance. There were other Native American institutions in the community that offered an alternative. The Little Feather Indian Center, a local Indian support center, had the potential to evolve into a marketing operation. In the 1990s, park officials watched with great interest as the issue grew in importance. [42]

Maintaining the longstanding ties between the monument and the adjacent town and county of Pipestone also required management skill. Pipestone National Monument was a source of pride in the local community, and some locals had a proprietary feeling. Many walked its trails on a regular basis, and participated in activities that supported the monument and its mission. Some chafed in 1987, when a fee was instituted for entering the visitor center. Despite initial grumblings, this deterred few of the locals, who continued to walk in the monument, but eschewed contact with the Park Service. Yet this "city park" phenomenon had important positive ramifications for the monument.

In no small part as a result of the feeling of local people, relations with local government remained good. The County Board of Supervisors were generally supportive of Pipestone National Monument. A web of service arrangements continued to link county, city, and park, although a county-city dispute over responsibilities to the park simmered. Park officials considered it indicative of tension between the city and county, not a reflection on the relationship between the park and the community. A number of specific issues required constant attention. Flooding and flood control and the monitoring and testing of groundwater mandated by a comprehensive water plan required NPS attention. Occasional projects, such as the roadwork done on Hiawatha Avenue, had to be monitored by the superintendent. [43]

A number of other federal agencies had responsibilities in the southwestern Minnesota area, and on some occasion, these required the cooperation and participation of the monument staff. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Park Service shared a common interest in the protection of eagles and limiting the trade in eagle feathers. The Fish and Wildlife Service held title to the game reserve to the north of the monument that was created when the Indian School ceased to operate, although the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) handled the daily administration and management. Monument officials and DNR often coordinated natural resource management programs such as controlled burning. In other situations, the park exchanged perspectives with other agencies on a range of issues. [44]

Surprisingly, park officials reported relatively little communication with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In the era of self-determination, BIA officials were increasingly divorced from day-to-day decision-making of native peoples. This was particularly true in cultural affairs, where the legacy of nearly one hundred years of repressive policy made government advice unwelcome. The Tribal Council of the Santee Sioux Reservation often served in the stead of BIA. NPS officials and the council worked out numerous agreements and arrangements covering issues of mutual concern. Occasionally, BIA officials called about the rules governing quarrying, but in the early 1990s, that was usually the extent of contact. [45]

Relations with state agencies were closer. There were many issues of mutual concern that required consistent interaction. DNR and the park maintained a fairly close working relationship concerning the game reserve. DNR also monitored the new clean air act for the State of Minnesota, expanding the relationship with the Park Service even further. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency became the lead state agency for issues such as pollution contamination, discharge, and water analysis, surveys and inventories. In the area, many of these focused on Pipestone Creek. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the park worked together on issues of directional signing. Signs from highways to the monument were crucial to bringing visitors. Park relations with the state Department of Agriculture were more infrequent. If pollution could be traced to a farm chemical, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was responsible. Initially, the state Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency passed responsibility for such problems back and forth, but changes in law made farm chemical pollution the province of the state Department of Agriculture. The people of the wildlife division in DNR and at nearby state parks had the closest relationships with Pipestone National Monument. Monument staff and state park administrators in particular had similar concerns and interacted on common issues.

The park faced another important visitation issue. The number of recorded visitors began to decline following the Bicentennial celebration. The fall was dramatic, from approximately 200,000 in 1976 to 130,000 in 1984. Pipestone was not alone in this predicament, as other park areas in the I-90 area showed similar percentage declines. [46] Inflation and the rise in gasoline prices played an important role in the decrease.

Different methods of counting visitors may also have contributed.

In the late 1980s, visitation again fell by about ten percent, presumably in response to the initiation of an entrance fee. Since the people of the City of Pipestone regarded the monument as a city park, much of this decrease was attributed to the reluctance of local people to pay to enter the visitor center. Ironically, the entrance fee gave the monument extra operating capital to support operations, in an odd sort of way achieving the perennial bifurcated goal of the agency: to preserve and use simultaneously. Fewer visitors and more resources pointed in the direction of less wear on the resource and better programming and service for each traveler.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Pipestone National Monument played an important role in southwestern Minnesota. A destination for travelers, it added measurably to the regional economy. Its programs worked in concert with those of state and federal agencies to implement federal, state, and local law and policy. Its presentation of Native American culture and craftwork added a dimension of heritage to life in the region, bringing Native Americans from across the continent for ceremonies, rituals, and celebrations. These many roles made administering the park a delicate and sensitive process that required knowledge, foresight, and constant preparation. As in any similar situation, the Park Service had to balance the demands and desires of many constituencies with its legally mandated responsibilities. Success in such a venture had to be measured in increments; not everyone was pleased with the Park Service all of the time.

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Last Updated: 21-Aug-2004