It’s springtime here in the north country. Our asehmaa/tobacco seeds have been planted with folks from Mille Lacs, White Earth, Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, Lower Sioux, and a number of Native programs representing the Twin Cities. My plants are sticking their heads out of the soil, and growing every dayin the little green house we created with a planting tray and plastic cover. Watching the asehmaa/tobacco grow is like a miracle. Every year, I continue to be amazed and filled with awe that these little plants, which come from these little tiny seeds, can be so powerful. As I watch the little shoots grow, I am reminded that each of these little plants is sacred and carries our prayers to the creator. In this way, it is our first medicine, and one of them most powerful medicines we can carry with us. As one of our elders says, it has the potential to do great good when used the right way, or the potential to create harm to us, when used the wrong way. Our ancestors knew that habitual use of any plant could cause harm and so it is this way today. Every thing, including plants have an opposite side, and this is to be respected as well.
I want to take this time to say migwetch, pidamaya, to each of you who are planting asehmaa or who have gathered the red willow for yourselves. If we continue to do this, how many years will it be before we will have no need for the manufactured, commercial tobacco products for our ceremonies? If we each gift our spiritual leaders and our elders with our home grown, completely natural plants, we will be one step closer to being chemically free of all the toxins the tobacco industry has put in the commercial variety. Remember, the same companies who profit from our addictive use of tobacco, profit from our ill health when we get sick from using their products. So let’s create some sustainable economies, the same way our ancestors did.