The Peace Pipe

Why the focus on Native American use of tobacco? Because one of the themes of Psychoactive Management is this: When we concentrate or refine a psychoactive ingredient of a naturally occurring substance, or provide a way for it to enter the body faster or more efficiently, it becomes more difficult to manage. An example would be coca leaves contrasted with cocaine.  [Image: Scientist smoking tobacco, links to Andrew Weil advice column on cocaine describing how a faster route of administration causes more problems] (The smoke from his pipe moves; wait for everything to load into your browser.)

Native Americans used tobacco ceremonially for a long time, evidently with few health problems. Someone found a way to refine it, and smoke it in a tube, greatly increasing the amount of nicotine consumed in a short period of time (faster than a hypodermic injection, in fact), which has led to certain problems. Similar refinements and problems have happened with cocaine, chocolate, heroin, cane sugar, salt, and so on. (Salt?) OK, now feel free to comment about "Chocolate is not a drug, dagnabit!" in the message board :-)

This is from "A Capsule History of Tobacco" [Image: Tobacco plant] :

1492-11: Jerez and Torres Discover Smoking; Jerez Becomes First European Smoker.

Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, in Cuba searching for the Khan of Cathay (China), are credited with first observing smoking. They reported that the natives wrapped dried tobacco leaves in palm or maize "in the manner of a musket formed of paper." After lighting one end, they commenced "drinking" the smoke through the other. Jerez became a confirmed smoker, and is thought to be the first outside of the Americas. He brought the habit back to his hometown, but the smoke billowing from his mouth and nose so frightened his neighbors he was imprisoned by the holy inquisitors for 7 years. By the time he was released, smoking was a Spanish craze.

The Greenville Pipe

Click on images and/or underlined links. These links were obtained with a Google search for "tobacco native american". I pasted them in here in the order in which Google's search reported them.

One ceremonial use of tobacco

(click on this picture.)
 [Image: Kay McGowan sprinkles ceremonial tobacco at an unmarked Indian burial site in Flat Rock (Detroit News, 11 Oct 99).]

Tobacco has been used for many generations as offerings to the spirits, for planting, for gathering food, for healings and for ceremonies. The sacred uses of tobacco are different for many tribes but a basic truth remains, tobacco should be used for prayer, protection, respect and healings. Tobacco is medicine. The meaning of medicine can be translated according to perceptions, i.e. power from the creator and/or knowledge of self.

Tobacco was used as medicine before first contact. After contact tobacco was used as "gold power" of the Americas supporting the establishment of the colonies, the clergy and the militia. In 1723 Maryland and Virginia exported thirty thousand kegs per year requiring 200 ships to transport it. Still to this very day one can walk through the nations capital building and see tobacco leaves sculpted to the columns.

The consequences of the dominant culture exploitation is evident today in the commercialization which glamorizes cigarette abuse. This raises a confusing conflict between abuse and the necessary place of tobacco within the native cultural community. The Costanoan Indian Research at Indian Canyon Ranch recently hosted a lecture to 300 students from various colleges of the North Central Coast of California. The students were surveyed over a 3 month period and asked before and after the discussion to respond ' to what tobacco has meant to them'. Each Learning Circle was attended by 10 - 40 students. 80% of Native American Students said that they "...had seen tobacco prayer ties being made and prayed with but they did not know how or why it was used.

(That's from, found at Tobacco, Health and the Law

Tobacco and Native Americans today

Touch the Earth>

Lakota Peace Pipe

Lakota Pipe-- Stonee's Web Lodge

Brief encyclopedia article

Little Princess Handcrafts peace pipe showroom

Peace pipe etiquette

Native american music phrase