The Medicines: Tobacco

History

As aboriginal people, we use Traditional Tobacco to represent the honesty that we carry in our hearts when words are to be spoken between two people or to the spirit world. When a request is made, a teaching is shared, a question is asked, or a prayer is offered, the Sacred Tobacco travels ahead of the words so that honesty will be received in a kind and respectful way.

Tobacco is seen as a gift given to us by the Creator. To offer tobacco is to pay an ultimate respect to that which you are asking. When explorers reached the New World, Aboriginal people had been growing and using tobacco for centuries.

Tobacco Wise Aboriginal Communities

There is a major difference between Traditional Tobacco and commercial tobacco. Originally, our ancestors grew Nicotiana Rustica, however, there are more than ten plants related to Sacred Tobacco that are used in the same way and are referred to as Sacred or Traditional. Commercial tobacco which is sold in retail stores and found in commercial cigarettes is not made from Traditional Tobacco but instead is mass produced and has had a number of toxic chemicals added to it. The commercial tobacco that is sold in convenience stores and cigarette outlets has been chemically altered and is sold for profit, taking away the meaning of Tobacco’s original purpose.

Initial Stages of Planting

It is beneficial to seed tobacco plants in a greenhouse due to the extremely small seeds. This also cuts down on the germination time. One method of greenhouse growth is called the float management system. Seeds are planted in segmented trays floating on a pool of water. Each plant has its own section. Plant seeds early in the year by scattering them onto the surface of the soil, since germination is activated by light. Seeds should be mixed with sand and spread evenly over the soil. Mulch can be useful in the germination of the seeds. If using plastic, replace it with canvas after the plants begin to sprout. Proper maintenance i.e. clipping, watering and fertilizing, is crucial to the plants’ development.

Tips/Recommendations

Tobacco grows with more success when it is planted in an area of soil that has previously been used to grow tobacco. The longer the soil has been producing tobacco, the better. Tobacco benefits from compost made from its own stocks, although not the leaves.