Smoking and Pipes

When the colonial settlers came to North America they were introduced 
to (Wdam8w8gan)  "smoking."  The use of burning plant material for 
medical and ceremonial purposes was done by our people for 
To facilitate the medical use of plants a medicine lodge could be 
used like a sweat-lodge.  The hot rocks would be used to volatilize 
the plants into smoke (Begeda).
The most common method of smoking was done with pipes (Wdam8gan).  
The pipes bowls were usually carved from red pipe stone 
(Wdam8ganisen) or soap stone.  Some pipes were one piece in an 
"elbow" or animal effigy shape.  The stone was carved using flint and 
knives.  Molded clay pipes were also used. 
Some bone or wooden pipes were also carved.  "Tomahawk" pipes were 
also made by the Europeans for trade pieces.  These were steel or 
brass tomahawk heads that had a pipe bowl cast on top.  The wooden 
handles were drilled through their length and the head was attached 
so that the pipe part could be smoked through the handle.  
(Peace pipe and weapon in one)
Pipe stems (Wdam8ganakwam) were made of wood or woody reeds.  Various 
methods were used to make the pipe stem hole.  Many of ours used soft 
pith centered branches that could be burned or pushed through.

Some tribal groups used rolled leaves like cigar or cigarette types 
of smoking methods.
Smoke and smoking was an important part of the Native American 
Indians' daily lives.  Fires were continually going for cooking, 
warmth and habitation.  Specific types of wood and plant materials 
were burned for the curing of foods, water-proofing leather, 
fragrances to bathe the body, and medical healing.
The materials used for inhaled smoking came from a wide variety of 
dried wild herbs, barks, and plants, including (Wdam8) native tobacco 
(Nicotiana rustica or tobacum).  Compared to modern chemically 
treated and flavored tobacco, the smoking mixtures of the past were 
much lower in nicotine and more medicinal in character.

Smoking Herbs & Plants -
To go along with the history of smoking we are listing several herbs, 
barks and plants that were used for smoking.
 The native word Kinnikinnick was used to describe Bearberry, but 
more accurately this was meant for a blend of herbs that included it.  
Kinnikinnick was typically a mixture of sumac bark (or red willow 
bark), native tobacco, spicebush, and bearberry.
Our tribal council makes a ceremonial smoking mixture each year.  The 
mixture and amount of each type of plant material vary from year to 
year depending on availability and other factors.  The plants marked 
with * have been used in the various amounts in past mixtures.
Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea)
*Bearberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Upland Cranberry  (Arctostaphylos uva-uri) (leaves)
*Birch - Gray (Betulaceae spp.) (bark)
Bristly Crowfoot (Ranunculus pensylvanicus)
Butterweed or Horse-Weed (Erigeron canadensis)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Corn - Corn silk (Zea mays)
Dittany (Cunila origanoides)
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Licorice (Glycrrhiza glabra)
Life Everlasting (Gnaphalium polycephalum)
Lobelia "Indian Tobacco" (Lobelia inflata)
Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba)
*Mint (Mentha spp.) (leaves)
*Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) (leaves)
*New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) (flowers)
Panicled Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) (bark)
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Partridgeberry - Squaw Vine (Mitchella repens)
Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
*Red Raspberry (Rubus spp.) (leaves)
*Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) (bark)
*Sage (Salvia officnalis, spp.) (ground leaves)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) (bark)
*Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) (leaves & berries)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) (leaves & bark)
*Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) (leaves & berries)
Sunflower (Helianthus spp.) (leaves)
*Sweet Clover (Meliltos spp.) (flowers)
*Sweet Grass (chopped stems) 
*Tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) (leaves)
Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa)
*Willow (Salix, Salicaceae spp.) (bark)
*Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata/umbellata) (leaves)
*Yarrow (Achillea spp.) (leaves)

 The Pipe -
The act of smoking is an old tradition - some say that it was 
reserved for sacred activities and prayers - and yet many now smoke 
for social or personal pleasure.  It is more appropriate to consider 
the pipe and smoking as a sacred matter - a pathway for your prayers. 
Anyone can make or buy a pipe, but traditionally it would have been 
more appropriate if you were gifted a pipe or the materials to make 
it.  It is also a good thing to give your first made pipe away to 
another person before you make one for yourself.
Within our Band there is no "sacred pipe-maker" - to make a pipe 
comes from within and with great respect for the pipe you create.  
You are making a living thing that will grow with your life 
experiences  - at first it will be your baby and if used properly it 
will grow with you.
If possible the pipe and stem should be made by your own hands, using 
flint, knives, cutting bits, files, and sand/sand paper.  Preferably 
you will work without power tools.
For your first pipe, start simple.  A smooth round bowl and straight 
stem are best.  In time and patience you will learn how to work with 
the stone and wood.  Those that have tried to start by carving 
elaborate animal effigy bowls are often disappointed.  The heart, 
mind, and spirit have to be right whenever you work on a pipe.     
The bowl is usually made of red pipe stone "catlinite" or soap stone, 
talc or  "steatite."  The catlinite usually is red or mottled red, 
most of it comes from a Native quarry in Minnesota.  It is relatively 
hard compared to soap stone.   Steatite is available from many 
quarries worldwide, one of the best black types is from Virginia.   
Soap stone comes in a wide variety of colors from white to black and 
green to red-brown to pink.  Some pieces that we have used have all 
these colors including flecks of iron or pyrite "fools gold."  Pieces 
such as this vary greatly in hardness and as a result, additional 
care is needed when you work with it.  The softer material may break 
or crack when you work with it.

Start with a flat piece of stone 1 inch thick and 4 by 6 inches, 
this will give you enough material to work with.  With careful 
cutting you can get two pipes from this size piece.  We look for old 
broken soap stone wash sinks - check with plumbers and antique 
dealers for a source.  

Draw what you want the pipe bowl to look like on paper and mark it on 
the stone.  The bowl hole should be  inch diameter by about 1 inch 
deep.  The hole should taper slightly at the bottom.  A small _ inch 
diameter hole should be made perpendicular from the stem end to 
intersect the bottom of the bowl hole.  Once the holes are made the 
carving and shaping is done until it has the desired shape.  After 
the stem is made the final diameter of the stem and bowl receiving 
hole can be made to match with a tight fit.  
The wooden stem is best made from a small straight ( to 1 inch 
diameter by 10 to 12 inch long) branch that has a pithy center core.  
Red sumac, sassafras, walnut, and some willows are acceptable in this 
way.  Many of our stems have also been made using red maple as well.

Start with short and straight pieces of wood at first.  The stem hole 
can be made using a heavy metal wire that is heated red hot.  
The wire can be pushed through the wooden stem center after many 
repeated re-heats.  Care must be made to push the wire straight down 
the center and not through the side.  Once the hole is made you can 
remove the bark, carve, and sand finish. 
The labor that you spend on the making of the pipe becomes the 
special connection that you have between you and the pipe.  
Pray for guidance as you make it.
The pipe bowl should be heat treated by fire or in a hot oven if need 
be.  Once it is hot, bees wax or sunflower oil is applied.  It will 
darken the stone considerably but it will bring out many of the stone 
grain details.  This process is done many, many times and the stone 
is polished each time it cools.  If for some reason the stone breaks - 
it was not meant to be - start again with a new mind and heart.
The wooden stem is coated with sunflower oil as well and it too is 
smoothed and polished each time.  The portion of the stem that goes 
into the bowl should be given a light coating of bees wax to protect 
the wood and stone when they go together.  The stem can be wrapped in 
leather, beaded, or other wise decorated with feathers or other 
things that are special or sacred to us.  Like clothing a child these 
items can change or be added to over time.  Wrap the bowl and stem in 
leather or cloth when not in use and store them in a leather or cloth 
bag to protect your "baby."  A special  pipe-bag should be made next. 
Some people refer to the "first use" of the pipe as the "pipe 
awakening" ceremony.  This act has no basis of ceremonial tradition 
with our People, it may be more relevant to other tribal groups of 
the West or Plains.  For us, it is more appropriate to think of the 
connective relationship of all pipes and their purpose in our 
culture.  If possible you should smoke it the first time with other 
pipe carriers.   Ask that they share their experiences with you - so 
that you can collectively bring this new "baby" into the family of 
The best example of this sharing comes from ancient Algonquin 
ceremonies such as the Pipe Dance ceremonies that are held in mid-May 
each year by the Blackfeet of Montana.  During this ceremony, the 
oldest pipe carriers George and Molly Kickingwoman bring out the 
ancient pipes.  Dances and ceremonies celebrate this time. Pipes of 
others are also smoked together as one in unity.
In this way - all pipes are symbolically connected in time and 
existence because the bowls come from the rock of Mother Earth and 
the stems come from the tree and plant beings.  The bowl symbolizes 
the female side of existence and the stem the male side.  When the 
two are put together there is the unity of existence.

When you put the stem and bowl together you must plan on smoking it - 
otherwise you do not pay the proper respect to your pipe.  Care 
should be made when joining the two.  You should wet the stem end 
with your lips before you put the two together.
When smoking herbals, Kinnikinnick or tobacco, the material is placed 
in the bowl one small pinch at a time.  Check the draw of the pipe 
occasionally to make sure that is not packed too tight.  A tamper 
made of a deer antler point makes a good one.  The herbs should be 
lightly tamped with each pinch and a prayer should be offered with 
each one.
An appropriate prayer to the Creator, Kchi Niwaskw, Grand-Mother 
Earth, Nokemes Ki, Grand-Father Sky, Nmahom Asokw, the East, 
Waji-nahilot or Waji-s8khipozit, the South, S8wanaki, the West, 
Ali-nkihl8t, the North, Pebonkik, and to thank all of our relations 
past, present, and future generations N'dal8gom8mek or 
Wli-do-gonw8gan are recommended.
Once the pipe is lit take four or more puffs to assure that it is 
going well and tamp it occasionally.  Use the smoke to cleanse 
yourself as you would a smudge. Once you feel comfortable that you 
are prepared, start to offer your prayers.  Many start by going to 
the Creator and conclude with a thank-you to all of your relations as 
you did when you packed the pipe.  Other prayers from your heart or 
mind are appropriate as well - always be respectful in any thing that 
you do with your pipe. 
Remember, there are no right or wrong ways of the pipe or praying - 
but always do so with respect and honor.  We are not bound by rules 
or written practices on these matters.  Much of our past has been 
lost, we must search for it in our hearts and through prayers for 
guidance from our ancestors.  N'dal8gom8mek...Wli-do-gonw8gan	               

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