Supposedly smoking "kinnikinnik"

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Sat Mar 20 02:25:16 UTC 1999


There's one and only one plant in my region that anybody refers to as
"kinnikinnik", and it's Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.  (Spelling?)  This is a
plant which is very common, forming beds about an inch deep on sunny rocky
open ground.  A particularly good place to find it is on the huge, nearly
barren outcroppings of rock forming canyons and/or "benches" along the
Spokane River.

It is indeed smoked, still, and is coming back into popularity partly due
to those who are intrigued with herbal remedies and "natural" products.
It's a very good smoke.

It seems much of the "Indian tobacco" you'll find in stores now is what
was traditionally called "kinnikinnik":  A mixture e.g. of mullein,
arctostaphylos, yarrow, et al., and sometimes even some tobacco.

For students of ChInuk Wawa, it should be made clear that /k'aynulh/
"tobacco" <kinootl> is just that.  "Indian tobacco", in the strictest
sense of Nicotiana spp. grown traditionally as a widespread practice by NW
peoples, also is best called /k'aynulh/.  That other, mixed, multispecies
product is one of the senses of ?/kInIkInIk/.  Ma kEmtEks alta?

Lhush san,

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