While reading Smith and Warrior’s “Like a Hurricane”, I came across a passage that described Indians and a White House official smoking out of a so called “peace pipe”. It’s widely known that indigenous people have been smoking out of this pipe for centuries- it’s become a cultural characteristic. Though this activity is a norm in the Indian world, ever since I read that passage, I’ve wanted to know what the peace pipe is all about. With a curious mind and some time, I got my answer.
This peace pipe is a much bigger deal than I ever thought. As opposed to our culture’s smoking habits, the peace pipe has a much deeper meaning- a ceremonial and spiritual meaning. The peace pipe is used in a ceremony, appropriately named the “peace pipe ceremony” in which the holder takes turns facing each of the four directions, sprinkling some tobacco on the ground of each direction and in the bowl of the pipe, and then says a spiritual prayer giving thanks and respect to Mother Earth. In the act of sprinkling some tobacco on the ground of each direction, the holder is giving back to Mother Earth some of what he has taken.
After finishing this process in the order of east, south, west, and north, the pipe holder touches the pipe bowl to the ground, says another prayer, sprinkles yet some more tobacco on Mother Earth, then into the pipe bowl again, and points the pipe bowl in the direction of the sun or in the direction of the moon depending on the time of day. Another prayer is said in respect to Father Sky. Once more, some tobacco is sprinkled on the ground, some placed in the pipe, and the pipe is then held almost straight up into the sky. One more prayer is said, and then the smoking proceeds.
As the peace pipe is smoked, it is believed that a powerful “good for all things” results. The proper use of the pipe is said to bring one closer to Mother Earth and her children.
The peace pipe ceremony makes any one of our American ceremonies seem quite unappreciative. With such a long, repetitive process, the Indians show their love, dedication, and respect for their religion. This ceremony is ultimately a big “thank you” to Mother Earth. The Indians have really proven themselves to be nothing but grateful, something our culture could really learn from.
Information source: http://www.think-aboutit.com/native/peace_pipe_ceremony.htm
Photo source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_TNpbDzFf7rU/TNoPisDKhCI/AAAAAAA