O'siyo, Welcome to my Lodge, come, come in and have a seat and we will pass the pipe as friends and then I will tell you a story of our Ancestors and thru this story you may learn of our ways and our culture. These Legends are of our life and tell us how to live with all life in this our world, and Id like to share these with you. This month I will tell you of how Tobacco came to the Cherokee. This Cherokee lore is in honor of Joe Winter who runs the Native American Tobacco Seed Bank. He gives countless hours to this project so that Native Peoples thru out America will have their Native Tobacco's from their areas. Ive had the honor to meet Joe and know him to be very honorable. Ive set it up so you can click on his name to send him email to learn more about his program which is totally FREE to any and all Natives.
In the beginning of the world, when people and animals were all the same, there was only one tobacco plant, to whichthey all came for their tobacco until the Dagul'ku geese stoleit and carried it far away to the south. The people weresuffering without it, and there was one old woman who grew so thin and weak that everybody said she would soon die unlessshe could get tobacco to keep her alive.
Different animals offered to go for it, one after another,the larger ones first and then the smaller ones, but the Dugul'kusaw and killed every one before he could get to the plant. Afterthe others the little Mole tried to reach it by going under theground, but the Dagul'ku saw his track and killed him as he cameout.
At last the Hummingbird offered, but the others said hewas entirely too small and might as well stay at home. He begged them to let him try, so they showed him a plant in a field andtold him to let them see how he would go about it. The next moment he was gone and they saw him sitting on the plant, andthen in a moment he was back again, but no one had seen him goingor coming, because he was so swift. "This is the way I'll do,"said the Hummingbird, so they let him try.
He flew off to the east, and when he came in sight of thetobacco the Dagul'ku were watching all about it, but they couldnot see him because he was so small and flew so swiftly. Hedarted down on the plant-tsa!-and snatched off the top with theleaves and seeds, and was off again before the Dagul'ku knewwhat happened. Before he got home with the tobacco the old woman had fainted and they thought she was dead, but he blew the smoke into her nostrils, and with a cry of "Tsa'la![Tobacco]"she opened her eyes and was alive again.
The people had tobacco in the beginning, but they had used it all, and there was great suffering for want of it. There was one old man so old that he had to be kept alive by smoking, and as his son did not want to see him die. He decided to go himselfto try and get some more.
The tobacco country was far in the south, with high mountains all around it, and the passes were guarded, so that it was very hard to get into it, but the youngman was a conjurer and was not afraid. He traveled southward until he came to the mountains on the border of the tobaccocountry. Then he opened his medicine bag and took out a humming-bird skin and put it over himself like a dress. Now he was a hummingbird and flew over the mountains to the tobacco fieldand pulled some of the leaves and seed and put them into hismedicine bag.
He was so small and swift that the guards, whoeverthey were, did not see him, and when he had taken as much as he could carry he flew back over the mountains in the same way. Then he took off the hummingbird skin and put it into his medicinebag, and was a man again. He started home, and on his way cameto a tree that had a hole in the trunk, like a door, near thefirst branches, and a very pretty woman was looking out from it.
He stopped and tried to climb the tree, but although he was agood climber he found that he always slipped back. He put on apair of medicine moccasins from his pouch, and then he couldclimb the tree, but when he reached the first branches he lookedup and the was still as far away as before. He climbed higherand higher, but every time he looked up the hole seemed to befarther than before, until at last he was tired and came downagain.
When he reached home he found his father very weak, but still alive, and one draw at the pipe made him strong again. The people planted the seed and have had tobacco ever since.
The Traditional Native American Tobacco Seed Bank and Education Program (TNAT) at the University of New Mexico (UNM) has two objectives: 1) Collecting, preserving, growing, and distributing the seeds of many traditional Native American types of tobacco, and 2) Educating Native Americans about the dangers of tobacco misuse. All tobacco is extremely powerful, sacred, and dangerous substance. When used properly and with respect, in small amounts in traditional American Indian ceremonies, tobacco is a positive source of power. When misused, especially in the from of cigarettes,snuff, cigars, and other commercial products, tobacco is a deadly killer.
As always, I ask everyone to make prayers for World Peace and Kindness for all Living things on our Mother, The Earth. I ask all Pipe Carriers to make smoke with me in prayer also for Leonard Pletier and others like him who have been imprisoned unjustly. And here is the story of how I got my Pipe
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