Lacorsa Dellas Peranza Blog Native Smokes – The Longest Continuous Record of Native American Tobacco Consumption

Native Smokes – The Longest Continuous Record of Native American Tobacco Consumption

A new discovery in northwestern North America confirms that Indian people have been native smokes in all its forms for thousands of years—smoking it, chewing it, sniffing it. Researchers have now obtained the longest continuous biomolecular record of indigenous tobacco smoking. It comes from a single sample and proves long-held beliefs that Native American tobacco consumption predates the arrival of European-American settlers in the United States.

Explore Native Smokes: Traditional Tobacco Experiences Await

In recent decades, the use of commercial tobacco has become ubiquitous in most tribal communities. Its use is linked to poverty and disproportionately affects adults who are Alaska Native or American Indian. Smoking also causes serious health issues for Native Americans, including cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.

But some tribes are fighting back. They are planting indigenous varieties of the tobacco plant, which their ancestors grew for ritual and ceremonial purposes. They are reviving the use of “native smokes.”

At Gregory Point, on the windswept Oregon coast, there is a sacred ceremony held for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. It is part of a series of ceremonies that honor salmon and other important natural resources.

The ceremony includes the burning of kinnickinnick or a mixture of indigenous plants for smoking. The most popular kinnickinnick ingredients are the inner bark of certain willows, dogwoods, and sumac leaves. These ingredients are mixed with a leaf or two of the tobacco plant. The resulting mix is called kinnikinnick because of its shape when smoked.


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