Native Village Youth and Education News
September 2009


Indian Tobacco Garden Planned in Montana
Associated Press

Condensed by Native Village


MISSOULA, Mont:  The Missoula Indian Center is creating a garden to grow ingredients used in traditional Native American tobacco. The plants will promote native culture and help prevent commercial tobacco use  among Montana's American Indian youth. 39% of those youth smoke commercial tobacco.

Dana Kingfisher, who works at the center, says the garden will help educate youth about the sacred role of traditional tobacco.

"It's like a religion to our people," Kingfisher said.

Traditional plants such as red willow, kinnikinnick, bearberry, sweetgrass and sage will be grown in the garden, along with some vegetables.

When American Indians use traditional tobacco, they ask Creator to watch over them, and when they offer tobacco as a gift to Mother Earth, they are asking for nourishment for their bodies, Kingfisher said.

Traditional tobacco is not inhaled, she added.

Native Yards, a landscaping business, is providing labor, materials and guidance for the garden. The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program is also providing about $4,000 for the project.

photo: KURT WILSON/Missoulian

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