Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/191

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
179
THE CEREMONIAL USE OF TOBACCO.

tribe possesses but two sacred pipes, which are in the keeping of a certain gens, though seven gentes are said to have once possessed pipes which were reserved for ceremonial usages. The two now in existence are called sacred pipes, or red pipes, and are made of the famous red pipestone. The filling of the pipes is not done by the keepers, but by a man of another gens; and, when this official does not go to the council, the pipes can not be smoked, since no one else can fill them. The ancient ritual for this ceremonial filling of the pipes must not be heard, so he sends all the others out of the lodge. He utters some words when he cleans out the bowl, others when he fills it. The pipes are then lighted by the keeper, and are ready for use. In opening, handling, smoking, and emptying them certain regulations must be carefully observed. Any violation of these laws they believe will be followed by the death of the offender. In smoking they blow the smoke upward, saying, "Here, Wakanda, is the smoke." If the presence of enemies renders necessary the sending out of scouts, the pipes are filled and offered to them, and they are solemnly admonished to report on their return only the exact truth, and to be careful to observe well. When the first thunder is heard in the spring the sacred pipes are filled and held toward the sky, while the thunder-god is admonished to depart and cease from frightening his grandchildren. In the time of a fog the men of the Turtle subgens draw on the ground the figure of a turtle with its face toward the south. On the head, tail, middle of the back, and on each leg are placed small pieces of breechcloth with some tobacco. This is to make the fog disappear. Should an enemy appear in the lodge and put the pipe in his mouth, he can not be injured by any member of the tribe, as he is bound for the time by the laws of hospitality, and must be protected and sent to his home in safety. These Indians use the pipe when declaring war and when making peace. Among the Poncas at the election of chiefs, the chiefs-elect must put the sacred pipes to their mouths and inhale the smoke. If they should refuse to inhale it they would die, it is thought, before the end of the year. The election of Omaha chiefs is similar.

Major J. W. Powell states that when the Wyandot tribal council meets, the chief of a certain gens fills and lights a pipe, sending one puff of smoke to the heavens and another to the earth. The pipe is then handed to the sachem, who fills his mouth with smoke, and, turning from left to right with the sun, slowly puffs it out over the heads of the councilors who are sitting in a circle. He then hands the pipe to the man on his left, and it is smoked in turn by each person until it has passed around the circle, after which the sachem explains the object for which the council was called.

A possible evidence of the religious veneration with which the