(Samah) Tobacco Teaching

By Beatrice

“Always through tobacco”, the elders say. “Tobacco is the connector to the spirit world.”

I remember one time awhile back, when we first started the drumming circle, just before I was going to introduce a new song to the women, our elder, Freda McDonald, took some tobacco to offer it outside by a tree.  Ever since that day, whenever I was going to be using my drum, I offer tobacco in the morning on the east side of what I now call my “sacred tree”. (When we widened our driveway we almost cut the tree down, but decided not to. Now my sacred tree is big and strong and alive! And her spirit continues to be there for me!)

When I offer tobacco, I say, “Booshoo, to the Creator, the grandmothers and grandfathers, and to the spirits of the four directions, and all my relations. I say my spirit names and my clan, and give thanks for the day, for my gifts, for the gift of the drum and the opportunity to share those gifts with others, and I pray that the spirit of the songs and the spirit of the drums will touch the hearts and the spirits of those who hear the songs and the drums.  If I am asked to share a cultural teaching, I pray for guidance and direction from the Creator and the spirits.”

When someone offers tobacco to me for drumming, I accept it in my left hand (a teaching I learned from my good friend, Ina Carr, who is now in the spirit world.  If it is tied in a cloth, I will untie it, touch the tobacco and say “Meegwetch.”  Accepting the tobacco is a commitment.  If the offering is made when I’m at work, I will keep the tobacco on my desk “opened” until it is time to go home. When I get home, I offer it next to my sacred tree.  I say a prayer for the person who offered me the tobacco and/or the organization that they work with, and all the people who will be at the event and that eveything will go good. On the morning of the event, I pray again with an offering of tobacco.

I usually end up with a lot of tobacco. I use the tobacco in ceremonies and pray for all those who have offered me tobacco, and all their families and friends, or I use the tobacco when I go out, maybe fishing, or just out on or by the lake, or before travelling.  In the spring or summer, I will take all the leftover tobacco and put it in a sacred fire, and again say prayers for all those who have offered me tobacco over the past year.

Chi-Meegwetch,

From White Horse Spirit Woman