Species Detail

Nicotiana rustica L.

Scientific Name:  
Nicotiana rustica L.
Common Name:  
Myaamia Name:  
Material, Technology
Harvest Seasons:  
Growth Forms:  

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Nicotiana rustica L.
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
No Reference Specified Customs  Miami men grow the tobacco. They use it to smudge themselves before using the drum, for making tobacco offerings, put into graves, and into rivers and bodies of water.
Gleason, H.A. & Cronquist, A. 1991 Description  Annual up to 1m. Flrs greenish white, salverform, 1.5-2 cm wide. Native to tropical America.
Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Food  modern traditional crop. In the traditional story of Young Thunder William Pecongah; he describes the crops he had growing on his land 160 acres of reserve in central Indiana. "There I planted corn; wheat; potatoes; peas; tobacco; beans; apple trees; pumpkins; watermelons; cucumbers; onions; hay; straw; gooseberries; raspberries; blackberries; currants; turnips; tomatoes; pawpaws; cherries; strawberries; plums; blackhaws; peaches; walnut trees; pecans; hickory nuts; barley and rye."
Marquette, J. Use - Customs  smoking in order to pay honor to visitors. "After We had taken our places [in an Illinois cabin]; the usual Civility of the country was paid to us; which consisted in offering us the Calumet. This must not be refused; unless one wishes to be considered an Enemy; or at least uncivil; it suffices that one make a pretense of smoking. While all the elders smoked after Us; in order to do us honor; we received an invitation on behalf of the great Captain of all the Illinois to proceed to his Village where he wished to hold a Council with us"
Marquette, J. Use - Customs  calumet [tobacco pipe] is made from polished red stone and used in the Calumet dance. "It is fashioned from red stone; polished like marble; and bored in such a manner that one end serves as a receptable for the tobacco; while the other fits into the stem; this is a stick two feet long; as thick as an ordinary cane; and bored through the middle. It is ornamented with the heads and necks of various birds; whose plumage is very beautiful. To these they also add large feathers;--red; green; and other colors;--wherewith the whole is adorned. They have a great regard for it; because they look upon it as the calumet of the Sun; and; in fact; they offer it to the latter to smoke when they wish to obtain a calm; or rain; or fine weather. They scruple to bathe themselves at the beginning of Summer; or to eat fresh fruit; until after they have performed the dance; which they do as follows: The Calumet dance . . ."
Blair, E 1911 Use - Customs  Friends and relatives of a villager that has had a serious misfortune; visit the grieved and offer them their pipe filled with tobacoo for a shared smoke. "If any peson encounters a grievous accident or a great misfortune; the entire village takes an interest in it; and goes to console him. The men perform this duty for the men; and the women fulfil it for one another among themselves. Visits of this sort are paid to the afflicted person without conversation. The visitor fills his pipe with tobacco and presents it to the other to smoke; after he has smoked it for a little while he returns it to the person who gave it to him; so that the latter may also smoke"
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Medicinal  used by medicine men to diagnose disease. "Indian tobacco; a weed used by old medicine men for diagnosing disease"
Dunn, J.P. 1908 Use - Customs/Medicinal  sama
Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Customs/Medicinal  sama
No Reference Specified Use - Customs  used to smudge the drum before using
Dorin, G, Sr. 2004, August 10 Use - Medicinal  used to make ticks and leaches detach from the body
N/A 1998-2006 Horticultural Info  A small variety of tobacco that was cultivated in the area of the Maumee River was used for ceremonies and offerings
Gravier, J. ca. 1700 Horticultural Info  Tobacco branches/leaves were cut with a knife
Costa, D.J. 2000 Horticultural Info  The tobacco was cut; or picked by plucking the leaves off. "We pluck; thin out the tobacco;" "I pick it; cut it;" "I pluck the leaves off it"
No Reference Specified Horticultural Info  Tobacco is cultivated by past and present Miamis. A strain called Mecsuki Tobacco was being grown at the Longhouse in 1996. Cultivation involves the following steps: The crop is started in February; in planters with potting soil. Seeds are sprinkled over the surface of the soil and can be mixed with sand prior to sprinkling. Seeds are pushed into soil one half an inch deep and watered once. Remove weaker; smaller seedlings as seeds germinate and grow. In mid April after the final frost transplant outside about one foot apart and water moderately. Plants grow to five or six feet high. In July the plants will bloom. When seed capsules are present; cut off top of plant and dry for planting next year. Then; harvest the rest of the plant; roll the leaves up and tie with twine to keep them rolled; and hand leaves for drying. Finally; shred leaves and smoke
Gravier, J. ca. 1700 Horticultural Info  Tobacco was transplanted by hand in the early days. "I put [it] standing in the ground; transplant some tobacco"
Charlevoix, P. 1923 Horticultural Info  Charlevoix mentions a native tobacco that is far inferior in taste to the introduced tobacco. Kellogg adds that the tribes of the Great Lakes used a species of native tobacco; not a true tobacco; called "petun" and a tobacco mixture containing herbs; sumac; dogwood; and cornel bark
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Medicinal  used by patient and doctor when sick. "Indians raise a kind of tobacco called miamia sama [Miami tobacco] does not grow big-use it only when go to a doctor-put some in a bag and give it to him and he can tell whether you will get well"
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Customs  used to keep storm away. "Also when storm is coming; put a pinch in the fire; or by the door to keep storm away"
Dunn, J.P. 1919 Use - Customs  Funerals. Prior to the body being taken to the cemetary; an elder or the Chief goes to the cemetery to smoke the ground with cedar and tobacco. The cedar is evergreen; and signifies continuing life and the tobacco helps prayers ascend to the Great Spirit
N/A 1998-2006 Use - Customs  If the ceremony is performed at the gravesite then the leader will cast cedar to the four directions and into the grave and over the coffin. After the ceremony friends and family gather at a relatives house. If the deceased smoked cigarettes; relatives will place cigarettes in containers around the area and each person should smoke one of the cigarettes as an honoring. Accompanying this is a smoking ceremony where cedar cedar and tobacco are placed in a receptable and left to smolder. The smoke is fanned over a person in a manner similar to washing; the purpose being to cleanse away the spirit of death
Marquette, J. Use - Customs  the calumet dance tobacco pipe dance is done on a carpet of large rush [cattail] mats spread under the trees; in the summer
Throwbridge, C.C 1938 Use - Customs  peace-making ceremony involving peace-pipe smoking with enemy. "He [the peace ambassador] proceeds directly to the principal village of the enemy the chief of which he asks for upon his arrival. he is shown the lodge of this chief and proceeds to it. After setting down his flag at the door he enters and having lighted his pipe and smoked; offers it to the Chief. If he accepts and smokes the sign is held good and the ambassador immediately commences to propose the arrangements for a peace. But if he refuses to smoke at all; it is totally unnecessary to attempt any thing and me makes the best of his way home."
Throwbridge, C.C 1938 Use - Customs  peace-making ceremony involves dancing who are chosen by the warriors of the recent battle. Warriors take turns standing up; recounting great feats of bravery during battle; and choose a dancer by striking a pipe stem or piece of tobacco or a knife against a pole in the ground
Throwbridge, C.C 1938 Use - Customs  used to make an offering to the deity that inhabits unusual rock formations; mountains or upon entering caves; as they are passed in travels. "It is not an uncommon thing for an Indian to lay upon a large stone a quantity of tobacco; and then to address it -- "O Stone; you are fond of tobacco and I here give you a little to smoke--I am fond of life; I like to stay inthis world and I hope you will let me remain; and that you will give me success in hunting and travelling."
Throwbridge, C.C 1938 Use - Customs  show repect to elders. "Often the young men take to the aged the finest part of a deer which they have killed; or a skin; some tobacco; or moccasins."
Thwaites, R.G. (editor) 1903 Use - Customs  offered to the Manitou; the spirits. "There is a common Tradition amongst that People [the Illinois] That a great number of Miamis were drownd in that Place [a place just above the city of Alton; Illinois; where there are a great number of animal figures painted on a steep rock face with red paint]; being pursud by the Savages of Matfigamea [an Algonquian tribe living near the mouth of the St. Francis River in Arkansas; which later became part of the Kaskaskia]; and since that time; the Savages going by the Rock; use to smoak; and offer Tobacco to those Beasts; to appease; as they say; the Manitou; that is; in the Language of the Algonquians and Accadians; an evil Spirit . . ."
Pease, Theodore Calvin and Raymond C. Werner 1934 Use - Customs  funeral. "They put in [the grave--a hole lined with boards] a little kettle or earthen pot; about a double handful of corn; a calumet; a pinch of tobacco; a bow and arrows . . ."
Dunn, J.P. 1902 Use - Customs  in 1746; the Weas at the mouth of the Ohio [modern day Cairo; Illinois] were reported to be cultivating corn [referred to as "wheat"] and tobacco
No Reference Specified Use - Customs  chiefs medicine bag; used for blessing a grave or new building; contained tobacco and cedar.
No Reference Specified Use - Customs/Medicinal  the chief smokes a sick person for healing.
Shoemaker, G. 2004, May 28 Use - Customs  the current Nation drum is sprinkled with tobacco before using the drum; using left hand which is closest to heart. Tobacco and sweetgrass is tied all around the Nation drum
Blair, E 1912 Use - Medicinal  a plaster of tobacco was used to help heal a burn; by a Frenchman in a Miami community
Dunn, J.P. 1908 Use - Customs  cut up and thrown into water as an offering. In the traditional story Lennipinjakami; tobacco was cut up and thrown into the water as an offering to the manitou named Lennipinjakami that lives above the Red Bridge in Peoria this area is also known as the Double Cliffs and is 12 miles east of Peru on the Mississinewa River; to receive what they were asking for
Botanical Sources  
Nicotiana rustica L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
Rafert, S. 1992   Cultivated throughout eastern and western Miami lands
Gleason, H.A. & Cronquist, A. 1991   Cultivated by native americans throughout the northeastern U.S. but now very rare or extinct in the wild
Related Sources  
Nicotiana rustica L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
Coues, E 1898   On the origin of tobacco: Tobacco Garden Creek was first described by Lewis and Clark; April 17th, 1805. It was actually a marsh of reeds; Phragmites communis and was misnamed by some early traveler; confusing the Sioux and Assiniboine name for reed; cedi cheddy; and tobacco; candi chandee; says Larpenteur. He adds; "Of course; Indians cultivated a native tobacco Nicotiana quadrivalvis in those days; but not in separate gardens; apart from corn; etc."
Kohn, R.W; Lynwood, M.R; Edmunds, D; Mannering, M.; 1997   Keller George Oneida described uses and growing of tobacco
Thwaites, R.G. (editor) 1903   The tobacco pipes were made from a red stone; now known as catlinite; joined to a hollow reed for smoking; and decorated with feather. Tobacco pipes are also known as calumets
Marquette, J.   The calumet; or tobacco pipe; dance is described in detail by Marquette
Gravier, J. ca. 1700   The Miami-Illinois term "nimikima" translates as "I play with him. I gather tobacco or some other animate thing"
Bush, L. L 1996   Archaeological studies in central and south-central Indiana revealed that tobacco was either cultivated or "strongly encouraged in wild stands" during the late Woodland period A.D. 1000 through A.D. 1450
Olds, Julie, Olds, Dustin and Dani Tippman 1999   Mildred Walker recalls that althought they did not grow tobacco in her family garden in Miami; others in the community grew "long green fat tobacco" which was stronger than Indian tobacco
Blair, E 1911   Algonquian chiefs of villages can remarry as soon as six months after a wife has died; to ensure they have women to cultivate fields for tobacco and other crops. "The chiefs of the villages are not under obligation to remain widowers after six month time; because they cannot get along without women to serve them; and to cultivate the lands which produce their tobacco and all [else] that is necessary for them to be prepared to receive those who come to visit them; and strangers who have any business regarding the tribe to place before them"
Kerr, J. 1935   Other terms for tobacco have been documented as "samwah"
No Reference Specified   There is a can of sweet gum for mixing with tobacco; thought to be Miami; housed at the Cranbrook Institute of Science; Bloomfield Hills; Michigan
Gonella, M.P. 2003-2005   Only two plants; wild tobacco and red cedar; were used traditionally as ceremonial plants by the Miami. Contemporary uses of other plants in ceremonies; including white sage Salvia apiana; from western U.S. and sweetgrass Hierochloe odorata have been acquired often from the pan-Indian movement of modern times