Indian Country 52 #1 – Traditional Tobacco Use
“Mat Pendleton pulled his kids away from the basketball and video games on a recent Saturday to teach them a bit about a long-lost tradition.
Not far from the banks of the Minnesota River, they joined other youngsters trudging through snow in thick brush to harvest traditional tobacco — a cultural practice that’s making a comeback on the Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, two hours southwest of the Twin Cities.
“This is the red osier dogwood,” said Pendleton, the band’s recreation director, pointing to thin trees also known as red willow. “When we harvest it, we take what we’re going to use.”
Pendleton’s work on this day is part of a growing effort by Lower Sioux community leaders and American Indians across the state to re-establish the use of sacred tobacco, which is intended to be set out in prayer — or smoked but not inhaled — for spiritual and ceremonial purposes. In so doing, they also hope to decrease consumption of commercial tobacco, which is used in cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
While smoking rates among the general population have decreased, smoking rates among American Indians remain the highest of any racial group in the United States. In Minnesota, 59 percent of American Indians report smoking, while about 14 percent of the entire adult population smokes. In fact, American Indians across the Northern Plains have the highest smoking rates of American Indians in the country.”
– Star Tribune, American Indians in Minnesota reclaiming traditional tobacco.
Download the 18″x24″ poster (.pdf), Indian Country 52 #1 – Traditional Tobacco Use.
Indian Country 52
Indian Country 52 is a weekly project by David Bernie that uses the medium of posters that promote issues and stories in Indian Country. Follow the series: Indian Country 52
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