Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Alaska Indians Smoke


"How would you enjoy a pipeful of wood shavings saturated with a strong solution of pepper as an after-dinner smoke?" asked William F. Quinn of Portland, Ore.

"Strange as this may seem as a substitute for tobacco, it is nevertheless used as such by Indians along the Alaska coast. Their mouths are often made raw by the practice, and the eyesight of many is affected by the strong fumes. It is no uncommon practice among farmers to smoke the leaves of the tomato and potato plants. While both these plants contain a narcotic poison, the smoking of leaves in moderation is harmless. Excessive use, though, produces a heavy stupor, from which the smoker awakes with a terrific headache and a feeling of utter exhaustion. Insanity and suicide have often been caused by the immoderate use of these two weeds. Rhubarb, beet, and even garden sage leaves are all smoked by farmers, but are perhaps the least harmful of substitutes for tobacco."

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