Author Topic: Sale of sweetgrass and sage  (Read 37710 times)

Offline raven

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2006, 02:50:14 pm »
"it is very rarely right to buy sacred things, and before people go out and buy these medicines, they should ask themselves why are they needing to do this"
Once again this means "intent" what is the intent.
It is a very basic and simple understanding.
If you are being taught by elders the first lesson you are taught is not to analyze.
Some things are just that way, it does not mean they are right or wrong.
Continue to pick the sweetgrass and sage in tradtional way, and pray for those that do not.
That is real tradtion.
If you are being taught by elders that it appears that they follow lakota or another tribe that follows very similiar ways, ask yourself then if you make prayer ties, where did that material come from or the sinew? Those items are also used for a sacred purpose. So what is the difference between going to a fabric store to buy the material and picking the sage?   Are you praying and throwing tobacco on the floor at the store?
My point once again is the intent, that is what they are teaching you. Also the manner of picking the sage and sweetgrass, that is to make you aware  on a spiritual level of what your intent is.  If you are doing this prior to a sweat, you have already began the sacredness of the sweat, while picking the sweetgrass and sage. This is the real teachings, it is not meant to be taken on a literal term.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2006, 05:19:33 am »

As we use the concept of bringing Traditional Values to a Modern Society, we have noted that Sweetgrass, Sage and many other Medicinal plants of our area were traded, long before non-native's came to our region.

One of the purposes of the International Gathering of Traditional Medicines and Healing, is to revive the Trade Routes and trade in Medicinal plants, among our own people.  Another of the purposes was to bring Healing ways, from all four directions together, for the benefit of all mankind.  The annual Gathering was initially developed, by a Vision of a Native Elder and former Chief, six years ago.  Even though he has since passed on, many continue to Honour his Vision.

At the Gatherings, I make Muskiki Wapwe (Medicine Tea) which is shared with the many participants and visitors to the Gathering.  When I have begun to make this tea, several Elders always gather and stay by the Fire that is used for this.  This gives me an opportunity to learn more about their views about the modern medium of exchange for Trade and about sharing some of the plants from our Culture, commercially.  As each gathering lasts four days, I generally make between 50-130 gallons of tea and have a great deal of time to spend with the Elders.

Incidentally, to gather enough of the 14 ingredients of this tea takes approximately one month of my wife and my time and involves travelling several hundred kilometers, after which we share the tea, freely, at the Gathering.

I hope that this helps in promoting an understanding of this issue.


Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2006, 07:19:34 pm »
Sacred ; set apart for religious uses

Sanctify ; to make holy , ; set apart for some sacred use

Consecrate ; to set apart for holy purpose , regarded as Sacred

Is it possible to sell what is Consecrated and have it remain Sacred?  I don't think so , and that is probably why in the discussion above , there is a number of mentions of Elders and traditional people who are uncomfortable to see anything being bought and sold that has been Consecrated for ceremonial use such as Sage and Sweetgrass are when they are picked  . (What the tobacco offering when it is picked is all about . )

I am not sure how it is that someone makes the choice to listen to the traditional people who feel the sale of sweetgrass is OK , but ignore the many traditional people who strongly feel the sale of these traditional Medicines is a desecration of their Spiritual traditions .  I don't see how anyone can do that ,and also claim their behavior is "respectful".

I especially would not choose to listen to the supposedly traditional people who are saying it is OK to sell it when they are making money doing this , or are closely associated with people who are . It is a conflict of interest .

There is also a conflict in the information given by Mr and Mrs Cardinal about the ethics of selling this .

Mrs Cardinal said , as a justification for cultivating and selling this ;
"We're losing sweetgrass, and I've noticed that over the last 30 years. I remember being able to go to Kehewin [Alta.] and walk through it. Now in the same spots I can't do that. Our climate has changed dramatically and all those spots that were wonderful spots for sweetgrass are drying up,"  

And Mr Cardinal said , as a justification for selling it ;
"For me, there is so much of it growing around. If you want to buy it, there's no harm."
So which is it ? Is it going extinct or is there lots of it around ?  Kinda odd to hear such a contradiction in the same family .  What traditional people tell me , is a lot of the sweetgrass is gone because commercial pickers have over picked it and killed it . Maybe climate change is a factor but so is commercial picking .
Personally I perfer to listen to the people who have no commercial interests in the matter.

Yes , I have seen sweetgrass sage and other Medicines traded , but as far as I have ever seen ,or heard this always happens more as a mutual exchange of gifts , and I have never heard of a tradition where there was a set price or dickering over how much will be given in exchange for what , or how much an hour people will be paid to pick this .

Is it really being claimed here , that traditionally there was trading , that consisted of dickering and a expectation of how much people would recieve for these exchanges ?    

I agree that keeping people warm and dry and fed is the first priority , and I am sure the Spirits would understand if there is a time when someone needs to sell some sweetgrass to survive .  But ususally there is a CHOICE , and I really can't support commercial profiteering at the expense of a collectively owned resource , that many owners feel is desecrated through commercialization  .

I also understand that this commercializatyion is happening whether all the owners agree to it or not , and it can't be stopped , so there is a valid arguement to be made that First Nations may as well get in on the money .  Maybe resistance is useless ....  But it is still a horrible loss for many , and in my opinion , this commercial activity has little to do with " respect " for traditional culture .

 Sorry I can't agree with people on this one . There is more than one way to be impoverished .

There is many other points we do agree on ...

With Respect
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 12:00:00 am by Moma_porcupine »

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2006, 02:13:02 am »

I may not be as aware of my Culture as M Porcupine, but I do know that Saddle Lake First Nation is quite a distance from Kehewin First Nation and the geography is different. ?

As to two Cardinals disagreeing, this is no suprise, since there are literally thousands of Aboriginal people with this last name. ? As the Elder Joe Cardinal has long since passed on, I believe that his words should not be used with disrespect.

In being taught about our Culture, I was taught that all of Life is Sacred and all things of this earth are alive, including rocks, plants, insects, and animals, including people.  

Global warming, for whatever reason, is affecting our northern territories much more evidently than it is in the south.

« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 12:00:00 am by Ric_Richardson »

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2006, 03:20:22 am »
Sorry , I mistakenly assumed Marilyn Cardinal was the partner of Joe Cardinal as they were both mentioned in the same article on sweet grass . As you earlier mentioned Joe Cardinal was your teacher , I would guess this would be obvious to you , but it wasn't to me.

Personally I don't think it is being disrespectful to question contradictions , and while I am obviously uncomfortable with the sale of sweetgrass or other Medicines used in Ceremony , I do not mean to be disrespecful .  

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Sale of sweetgrass and sage
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2006, 12:12:59 am »
I am posting a few more links that mention some tribes concerns around the out of context use and commercialization of sage and sweetgrass , that was gathered for ceremonial purposes .

Sorry if this is more than some people want to know .

This first link is more about the connection between the trade in traditionally used ceremonial plants and animal or bird parts and the exploitation of traditional religion . It is a tribal ordinance by the Ogala Sioux Tribal Council , which attempted to ban non native possesion of these items used for traditional religious purposes . This ordinance was voted in 14 for and 0 against .

The first 1/2 of the web page is talking about how unfair some people they feel this new tribal law is , and the last 1/2 is the actual tribal ordinance  , part of which I have posted below ;

WHEREAS, it is the intent of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to eliminate the sale and exploitation of the Teton Sioux Religion and spirituality for profit, and

WHEREAS, the elimination of the sale of religion and spirituality may be best addressed by the adoption of an Ordinance identify such sale and exploitation a criminal offense, now THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED, that the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council does hereby adopt the following Ordinance outlawing the sale or possession of Wild Animal, Bird and/or Plant parts, including, but not limited to feathers, hides, or skins, sweet grass or sage for use by non-Indians for traditional religious purposes.

No person other than enrolled members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, non-enrolled members of the Oglala Sioux tribe whose application for enrollment is on file with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Enrollment Office, or enrolled members of any other federally recognized tribe shall possess or have in their possession, sells, gives away, disposes of, exchanges or barter any animal, bird and/or plant parts including but not limited to, bones of any bird, talons of any bird, animal hides, animal bones, animal teeth, sweet grass, sage, cherry branches and pipe boughs.

I also found this , which mentions many people and Elders on the Six Nations reserve felt people should not commercialize ceremonial plants .

Originally, Parker's idea to sell native plants to Indians was received with trepidation since many on the reserve felt that people should not profit from ceremonial plants. ''What got us around that is we told elders that we want to restore the numbers, preserve and maintain them, and then they understood. It wasn't that we were trying to be greedy and sell our natural resources,'' Parker explained.

Edited May 8 to add ;

I found more on line links to articles mentioning objections to the sale of sage and sweetgrass , and rather than make people who aren't interested read through more on the subject , I am just adding these on to this old post .     

One of the links I mentioned in reply #12 no longer works . I found a cached version, but as I don't know how long that will last , I have quoted from the article .

Tourism seen as new economic boon to Indian country   
Posted: October 11, 2000
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today

"The Pipe is sacred to us and we don't share with (the tourists). Our elders get upset when you sell sweet grass and other things. This is our way of life, we have no word for religion," he said.

This link below takes forever to load. It is 152 pages and it is a thesis discussing the impact of a Canadian government funded tourism project in a Mi'kmaq community in New Brunswick .

"Seeds Blossoms and in Bloom":Explorations of identity and plurality of meanings in growth of cultural tourism and the Aboriginal Heritage Gardens " by Dorthy Hache'

Page 78

A notable example of the points of diversity of sentiments in development is the simultaneous
collision and convergence in the relationship between political leaders on reserves and traditionalists . They are often at odds . Traditionalists are prone to label band councils as "creatures of the imperialists and elected councillers as patsies for a system that undermines the old ways when everyone had a say on every issue " ( Cayo 1997 , July 5 0

This differencce comes out occasionally in my interviews but the denigeration is not based on chief and councils political identity and role in the community ; rather , the concerns are whether  the planners and political leaders will respect "tradition" in their development initiatives .
Page 97

A final area of contention , and perhaps one of the most divisive I have observed thus far is the whole question of whether spiritual  items can be bought and sold . This debate is inherent in the commodification of culture but it implicates the heritage Garden directly since it's main feature and market strength is the wide array of pharmacopeia traditionally used by the Mi'kmaw . it is no coincidence that the product being offered by the Heritage Garden is concurrent with an increased interest in herbology and homeopathic medicines by both scientists and lay people . Not only is there an enviromental challenge in the growth and use of these herbs and natural medicinal plants but the demand for these products is both socio-economic and spiritual . It was noted earlier that divisions exists between Mi'kmaq traditionalists and politicians and it is on this very issue of whether one can sell traditional medicine or not that their main differences occur . Selling sweetgrass is considereded taboo by many traditionalists but it is happening and inevitible divisions result . in fact , there are even divisions within the traditionalist camp on this very issue . For those Aboriginals involved in the commodification of culture particualrly the selling and marketing of traditional /spiritual items . there is an agreement on the common forms (e.g. sweetgrass for smudging purposes ) but they differ in meaning . As Stromburg argues in his study of religion : members render them [symbols] intelligible to themselves through their personal faith ...people may share commitments without sharing beliefs ; it follows that they may constitute a community without a community being based on consensus " (Stromburg 1986:13 cited in Cohen 1994 :18 )

Powwow - Google Books Result
by Luke E. Lassiter, Gary H. Dunham, Clyde Ellis - 2005 - 309 pages


By Luke E. Lassiter,
Gary H. Dunham, Clyde
Published 2005
U of Nebraska Press
This anthology examines the origins, meanings, and enduring power of the powwow.

265 ( in a section by Lisa Aldred )
The southren california Chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM) has issued directives
regarding these new age run powwows urging Indians as well as non Indians to stay away from them

The sponsers of these powwows are only interested in profit and are very disrespectful of Indian culture . You can spot these non Indian powwows because they have a carnival atmosphere . You will see commercail food trucks commercail products sold out of trailers mountain men shows , palm reading , guns , arcades , an entrance fee , a parking fee and the availability of alcohol . Sacred herbs , such as sage tobacco and sweetgrass and Pipes are displayed for open sale . The atmosphere is not Indian . Pleas stay away ... Do not buy sacred items . Do not buy sage tobacco or sweetgrass . Do not buy Pipes or any ceremonial items .

AIM has recognized the trend toward powwow markets that sell sacred items , such as the sacred Pipe vendor Richie Plass found offensive . They have clearly delinated why such sales are highly offensive as well as condemed the sale of New Age lititure by powwow vendors .

For twenty five years there has been an increasing and disturbing trend of exploitation in the powwow market places that includes the buying and selling of sacred items and artifacts . With this has come the introduction of New Age ideas and merchandise passed off as "Indian wisdom" or "Indian thought". Exploitation is a serious matter with serious consequenses for the Indian community and demands our immediate attion to preserve the cherished culture of our people .

Included in many markets are ceremonial Pipes ( particularly those made of Pipe stone ) sage ,cedar ,sweetgrass, rattles, tobacco ties, some drums ...The Sacred must not be sold

... (begins )
the Aboriginal Arts Group (located in the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg) was offering an eight month Artist Management Training Program through Red River College.

In 1998, through a business loan and government programs, I was able to take six artists to Germany, and ten powwow dancers and artists to Brazil. For years I heard the Germans loved Aboriginal art and that we would sell everything we brought. (con )

They seemed more interested in making money from, our culture than in the authenticity of the work. Also at this show, there were non-Aboriginal people selling traditional medicines (sweetgrass, sage, cedar and tobacco). We were taught not to sell medicine but to trade or give it to people who
need. To make matters worse, some vendors were consuming alcohol while selling these things, which is considered disrespectful.

Through the link
"Stop the Sale of Traditional & Sacred Items"
What is Sacred?

# Pipes
# Pipestone
# Drums
# Quillwork
# Some baskets
# Sand Paintings
# Kachinas
# Buffalo parts
# Federally regulated or endangered species
# Sage
# Cedar
# Sweetgrass
# Tobacco
# Smoking mixes
There is a few more articles mentioning the sale of sweetgrass , and an attempt at a discussion of the general principlals involved when some people in a community decide to commercialize a part of the culture , in a way other people find offensive, in the thread below " Who Owns Native Culture' .;all
« Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 11:12:35 pm by Moma_porcupine »