July 15, 2007

Tobacco:  good or bad?

Some tobacco is sacred for American IndiansGripping a leather pouch in one hand, Rios Pacheco had a seemingly contradictory message for an Independence Day crowd:

Tobacco is bad, but tobacco also is good.

Pacheco, a member of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, spent several months this spring helping young tribal members understand the difference between commercial cigarettes and chewing tobacco, which are bad for their health, and tobacco used in traditional ceremonies, which is to be embraced.

"It is a sacred plant. It represents the blessings our ancestors once had," Pacheco told a crowd gathered to watch American Indian dancers in Brigham City's Pioneer Park on July 4.

The Northwestern Band's Keeping Tobacco Sacred program, funded by a $7,500 grant from the Utah Department of Health, is part of a larger statewide effort to reduce the use of commercial cigarettes and chewing tobacco while honoring the traditional ceremonial use of tobacco.

1 comment:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
For one matter, commercially-grown tobacco isn't the same plant any longer, having been hybridized and domesticated into a malformed, gigantic version that hardly resembles its original ancestor. True sacred tobacco still exists in the lesser-populated reaches of Central America and that is the source Native Americans have for their ceremonial uses. Original tobacco almost is a hallucinogen in its strength with its leaves only slightly larger than your thumbs. In its way, commercial tobacco is like everything else the white man took into his hands, all mangled and corrupted, like the land and the forests and wildlife and, yes, even the Native Americans...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'