Native American Tales

The Sacred Weed

The Sacred WeedThe Sacred Weed


Four men, who were brothers, discovered the tobacco plant. They smoked it and found it good, but they did not share the plant with others. A man named Bull-by-himself, thought the plant should be shared. He went to a sacred lake and pitched his tipi on the shore. The man went every day to search for the plant, but found nothing.

The woman heard some singing. She told her husband about it, but he couldn’t hear the singing. She determined it was coming from a beaver dam. She cut the dam open and inside found four beavers singing and dancing. They told her they would tell her about the sacred plant if she repaired their dam, which she did.

The beavers came out and transformed into men. They told Bull-by-himself that he should capture the skins of all the water animals, except beavers. The beavers would then teach Bull-by-himself the songs and prayers of tobacco. They would teach him how to plant it and how to take care of it, and most importantly, how to prepare it and share it with others.

At first, the four men did not believe that Bull-by-himself had the sacred plant, but he did and he shared it, unlike the four men. Their tobacco crop was damaged by hail.


Tobacco did not used to be looked on the same by natives as it was by settlers. The natives used it ceremoniously and not as a constant sort of companion as the Europeans came to do. To the natives, it wasn’t something you did constantly. It was this special thing. You sat down with other people and you smoked the pipe. You didn’t have your own pipe that you smoked by yourself almost incessantly. The addiction part of it came later.

Every plant has a use somewhere, but for the life of me–I don’t know what use something like poison ivy has, but tobacco can also be used medicinally. The idea was to use it sparingly, which all went out the window when “the white man” came and began using it themselves.


This plant was sacred so it was supposed to be shared with all, but was also not supposed to be taken lightly. When we use the term sacred, we associate it with religion, which is supposed to be inclusive, therefore, sacred things should be available to all, but at the same time, we’re supposed to treat sacred things with respect. These four guys were withholding something sacred from everyone else. If something sacred is withheld from you, how are you supposed to ever reap the benefits of that thing? You can’t.

You can even take this concept elsewhere. Maybe the thing doesn’t have to be sacred, but it’s something all people should have. If someone is withholding that thing from you, how is that fair? There are just some things that are meant to be shared and it’s never good when someone starts trying to hoard those things.


…not that everyone should have cigarettes.

Weigh In

If you had something good for other people would you withhold it?

Are there some things that are by nature meant to be shared?


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