The Heritage of Tobacco

We at Tabanero Cigars believe in our multi-fold heritage. One aspect of that heritage is the origin of tobacco and the Native American cultures who first cultivated the plant. In that spirit we continue to share Native American tales and celebrate our connection to something bigger than ourselves.

Nawakosis The Blackfoot Legend

This is the tale of Nawakosis, a legend from the Blackfoot tribe. It is the tale of four brothers who were medicine men with spiritual powers. The eldest had a vision through which he was shown a special plant with spiritual powers. A voice in the vision told him to pick the plant and burn it. So the next day he went in search of the plant. At dusk he found the plant. He cut it, brought home, and threw into the fire to burn. The aroma was wonderful and he felt full of life.

That third night the third brother had a vision in which he was shown how to make a pipe from the bones of a buffalo. That morning he found the buffalo his brother had used for the hide and he fashioned pipes out of the bones just as the vision had shown him.

That third night the third brother had a vision in which he was shown how to make a pipe from the bones of a buffalo. That morning he found the buffalo his brother had used for the hide and he fashioned pipes out of the bones just as the vision had shown him.

The Story of a Special Plant

That night the fourth brother was visited by a vision in which he was told to take the chopped plant and put it the pipe his brother had made. He was instructed that the brothers should inhale the smoke and breathe it out so that the smoke rose to heaven. The smoke the nawakosis, sang together, and lifted prayers to heaven. That night all four brothers were visited in a vision that told them to teach all the people about this special plant. In the morning the four brothers agreed to disobey the final vision. They planted the nawakosis in secret places, they smoked it in private, and sang the sacred songs where no one could hear them. The nawakosis was given so that all people meant live in peace and happiness, but the brothers kept it to themselves. So where there should have been unity, harmony, and progress there was instead hate, war, and destruction. One day a man named Lonely Bull overheard the brothers talking about the nawakosis. He was angry and decided that he would discover this plant, grow it, and share with all people. He and his wife (yeah I don’t know why he is ‘Lonely’ Bull if he has a wife) went on a quest to find the plant. The quest led them to a sacred lake ( seems like the logical place to go -right?). There they built a lodge. Every day the man would go looking for food and for the plant. Every night he would come home with only food. One day while he was gone, the wife heard singing coming for across the lake. When he came home she told him what she heard. He told he she was imagining things (in this story imagining things is sort of a good thing isn’t it?). The next day she heard the singing again and again he rejected her words. The third day she heard the singing and this time explored and discovered it was coming from the beavers’ house. He came home and again he heard nothing. So the woman went to the beaver home and tore open a wall and discovered – some really angry beavers ( for tearing up their wall ). No just kidding she really discovered the beavers dancing and singing. The woman convinced the beavers to come to their lodge and share the plant and to teach her and her husband the sacred dances and songs. The next day the beavers came to their lodge AND RIPPED DOWN A WALL! No, just kidding they didn’t do that. They listened as the husband told them about the four brothers and his quest to find the nawakosis. The beavers said they were fortunate to have found them because nawakosis is a sacred water plant and they, of course, are water people. They said that nawakosis is meant to be shared and no one can truly know its benefits unless they share it. But before they shared the nawakosis with the man and his wife they taught them all the dances and songs. Over time the man and his wife learned the songs. So the beavers…ok, let’s step outside of the story for a moment. Talking beavers…I know right? They are astonished by tobacco (spoiler alert nawakosis is tobacco) but seem completely unfazed by talking beavers. Back to the story in progress. So, the beavers gave the couple seeds for the nawakosis to plant back home. Word that Lonely Bull had planted the holy nawakosis came to the four brothers. However, they laughed thinking the man was deceived for only they had the plant. Right before the harvest a terrible storm raged across the land. The nawakosis plants of the four brothers were completely destroyed. On the day of the harvest the truth of Lonely Bull’s crop was revealed. The brothers sent an emissary to ask Lonely Bull to share the crop with them. Lonely Bull agreed to do so if the brothers learned the sacred songs and prayers. They agreed and peace came to all the land and peoples. Yes, a hand made cigar is wonderful for bringing people together even today. Come to Tabanero Cigars and join us in sharing this gift.The next night they came, and brought the sacred herb with them. They put the seeds from it into the medicine bundle that the people had made. “Do not smoke the herb until you have planted more,” said the beavers. Go and find a place that is not too shady, but not too bright. Find a place where the ground is not pale, nor too dark. Turn the soil and make sure it is not too tight. Then you, Bull-By-Himself, take a deer horn and poke holes in the soil — one hole for each seed. Then you, his wife, take a buffalo-horn dipper, and drop one seed in each hole. Then the two of you, together, dance over the ground and pack down the seeds so they will grow. Sing the songs we taught you. After you have done this, the nawakosis will grow. That’s all I know.” They men left, and turned back into beavers as they went. The man and the woman planted the seeds exactly as the beavers had taught them. The four medicine men who had nawakosis to themselves until now thought “What could they be planting?” “What songs are they singing?” They sent someone to ask them, and the messenger learned that they were planting a sacred herb called nawakosis. The four men laughed and joked that the couple must only think they were planting nawakosis, that they couldn’t possibly have learned of its sacred use. They alone had the power of the sacred herb, they thought. When time came to harvest, the four brothers’ nawakosis was destroyed by a powerful storm. They had not saved any seeds, and nothing was left. They hoped that the couple had been right, and had really planted nawakosis. They hoped that they would share it with them, now that the source of their own power was all gone. They sent a messenger to find out, and Bull-By-Himself and his wife sent the messenger back, with nawakosis to show the medicine men. The storm had not damaged the crop the couple had planted, and they would share it with anyone who would learn to smoke it in a sacred way. That is how Bull-By-Himself and his wife taught the tribes to smoke Nawakosis, and the tribes have smoked it prayerfully ever since.

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