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Sacred Tobacco


Kinnikinnick was a crop cultivated by many Plains Indian tribes.

It was mixed with sumac leaves and the dried inner bark of red alder, dogwood, or red willow to create a pleasant-smelling mixture, which had none of the injurious qualities of our modern tobacco.

The bark was scraped off in long shavings and left to dry on a piece of rawhide.

When dry, it was crushed into small particles by hands greased with buffalo fat, which helped the bark to burn more freely.

Kinnikinnick was rarely smoked alone because of its bitterness. Plains Indians usually added, in a ritual manner, Arikara twist tobacco and a small amount of a fragrant root or herb.


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