WHYY: Sacred Tobacco and American Indians, Tradition and Conflict

By Sojourner Ahébée
May 14, 2021

Sean Brown grew up on an American Indian reservation in Seminole County, Oklahoma where he says tobacco was everywhere — in TV and radio ads, on billboards and storefronts.

“Everyone in my dad’s family smoked,” Brown said. “Chain-smoked a pack a day — grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, dad, all of them.”

And at 9 years old, Brown had his first cigarette. He took it from one of his mother’s packs.

“Mom didn’t even notice because she worked 16-hour days,” Brown recalls. “She wasn’t counting how many smokes there were in there. Me and my friend, we chain-smoked about 10 straight.”

But for Brown and many American Indians, there’s another side to tobacco. READ MORE


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