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Native Americans & Cannabis: A Healing and Spiritual Teacher

Updated: May 19, 2023


Native American cultures had diverse perspectives and practices regarding cannabis. While some tribes embraced the use of cannabis for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes, others had limited or no traditional use of the plant. The following native tribes of the Northern Americas and their practices with cannabis are as follows:

  1. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe): The Ojibwe people traditionally viewed cannabis as a sacred plant with spiritual and medicinal properties. It was used in various ceremonies, such as the Midewiwin or Medicine Lodge ceremonies, where it was believed to facilitate communication with spirits and aid in healing.

  2. Lakota Sioux: Cannabis, known as "canupa" or "chanupa" in the Lakota language, was considered a sacred plant. It was used as part of important ceremonies like the Sundance and Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Cannabis was believed to help establish a connection with the spiritual realm and promote vision quests and spiritual experiences.

  3. Cree: The Cree people incorporated cannabis into their spiritual ceremonies, particularly during healing rituals and vision quests. It was believed to assist in connecting with spiritual energies and aiding in physical and mental healing.

Above, Sweat Lodge in the Mountains of North America


5. Choctaw: The Choctaw tribe regarded cannabis as a sacred plant and utilized it in their ceremonies. It was used during religious rituals and was believed to enhance spiritual experiences and foster a connection with the divine.


6. Mohawk: Cannabis, referred to as "onon'tsiskwara" in the Mohawk language, was considered a sacred plant by the Mohawk people. It was used in religious ceremonies, such as the Midwinter Ceremony, and was believed to promote spiritual insights, healing, and purification.


7. Apache: Some Apache tribes, such as the Lipan Apache, had ceremonial use of cannabis. It was incorporated into rituals involving prayer, healing, and communication with the spiritual realm.


In these tribes, cannabis was typically treated with reverence and respect, seen as a gift from the Creator or a spiritual ally. Its use was often guided by traditional knowledge and passed down through generations. However, it's important to note that the specific practices and beliefs regarding cannabis may differ among different bands or groups within these tribes.



-Sean Despain


New Earth Integration and Plant Medicine

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