Jeffers National Monument 

MN DNR Minerals Education Workshop 2005

Field Trip guide by Dr. Dean Moosavi and Rick Ruhanen 

At Jeffers National Monument the red Sioux Quartzite takes on a religous significance to the Native Americans of this area. Additional images and descriptions of Jeffers National Monument are available at this site by Dr. Steven Dutch of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. Here the importance of geologic records like thesse ripple marks in the quartzite mix with the culutural and religous traditions of people who have occupied these lands for at least 5000 years.

Native American legends explain the red color of the rocks at Jeffers from the blood of people who died there. Blood is red due to the presence of the iron and oxygen in hemoglobin. It is the iron oxides that were made possible with the production of atmospheric oxygen by early plants that connects native and scientific interpretations of the Sioux Quartzite.

European settlers began arriving in the praires in large numbers only about 150 years ago. This had a large impact on the land as the prairie became farmland, wetlands were drained and the bison (buffalo) were nearly exterminiated. Bedrock outcrops like this were important features in the lives of the Native Americans and early settlers. Stories of stampeding buffalo over cliff to provide hides and meat are part of Native American legands and archeological evidence supports these stories.

In the photos at the right and below glyphs or rock carved drawings are visible. The Native Americans carved (and continue to carve) these images into this very hard rock as part of religous or spiritual worship.

There are man miles of quartzite ridge exposed and some of the others have some carvings as well but here over 2000 individual carvings have been documented.

The long ridge of bedrock served as a natural highway for animals as well as people. In the wet spring it was unlikely to get "stuck" with little to no topsoil about the more than 1000 feet of rock. Written accounts of early Euorpeans substiantiate Native American tales of bison migrating along the rock including evidence of the rock at the bottom right that has been polished smooth by bison rubbing their winter coat off as they walked by the rock.

 
 

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