Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/189

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


THE CEREMONIAL USE OF TOBACCO. 177

near the famous red pipestone quarry of the Coteau des Prairies is mentioned by Catlin, who says that the Indians never went quite to them, but standing some distance away they would throw plugs of tobacco to them, thus asking permission of the indwell- ing spirits to dig and remove the precious pipestone.

Still later survivals of the ancient customs connected with the use of tobacco maj^ be noted. According to Colonel Garrick Mallery, an instance of the use of tobacco as incense was fur- nished by the Iroquois as late as 1882. The following words were addressed to the fire : " Bless thy grandchildren ; protect and strengthen them. By this tobacco we give thee a sweet- smelling sacrifice, and ask thy care to keep us from sickness and famine." The Iroquois still make an annual sacrifice of a white dog, on which occasions tobacco is solemnly burned. The idea underlying this employment of tobacco is well shown in the prayer which accompanies the ceremony : " I now cast into the fire the Indian tobacco, that as the scent rises up into the air it may ascend to thy abode of peace and quietness ; and thou wilt perceive and know that thy counsels are duly observed by man- kind, and wilt recognize and approve the objects for which thy blessing has been asked." Another late custom of the Iroquois is thus related by Mrs. Erminnie A. Smith : " In a dry summer sea- son, the horizon being filled with distant thunderheads, it was cus- tomary to burn what the Indians call real tobacco, as an offering to bring rain. . . . Every family was supposed to have a private altar upon which its offerings were secretly made ; after which that family must repair, bearing its tithe, to the council house where the gathered tithes of tobacco were burned in the council fire. . . . Burning tobacco is the same as praying. In times of trouble or fear, after a bad dream, or any event which frightens them, they say, ' My mother went out and burned tobacco.' " The Cohuilla Indians of California believe in evil spirits called sespes, and when they can not sleep they make offerings to these of tobacco. In making their buffalo medicine the Dakotas were accustomed to burn tobacco to bring the herds. Some American Indians before killing a rattlesnake would make an offering to its spirit by sprinkling a pinch of tobacco on its head. Others would beg pardon of a bear which they had killed, and by placing the peace pipe in its mouth and blowing the smoke down its throat, ask its spirit not to take revenge. The Sioux in Hennepin's time looked toward the sun when they smoked, and when the calumet was lighted they held it aloft, saying, " Smoke, sun. A like cus- tom prevailed among the Creeks. Gordon William Lillie ('* Paw- nee Bill "), speaking of the pipe dance of the Pawnees, says that " before lighting their pipes they throw a pinch of the tobacco into the air. This, with the first three puffs of smoke, which are

vol.. xi.iii. — 13

�� �