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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

indian tobacco

Sgt. Gass, October 10, 1804 - Their [Arikara natives] tobacco is different from any I had before seen: it answers for smoking, but not for chewing.

Capt. Lewis, Winter 1804 - N° 105. seed of the Larger species of recarre (ed. - Arikara) tobacco pre[se]nted us by Lepoy an Indian chief of that nation commanding the middle town.

Capt. Lewis, Winter 1804 - N°. 106 is the corrollars of the same prepared for smoking. they are plucked and dryed in the shade.

Capt. Lewis, Winter 1804 - N°. 107 is the seed of the smaller species (ed. – probably Nicotiana rustica).

The recarres (ed. - Arikaras) cultivate two species of tobacco for the purpose of smoking in which way they use it altogether as they neither snuff nor chew.

The Larger species (see specimine plants N° 108) rises to the hight of three feet it's round green and succulent much branched when suffered to grow singly. in that situation it branches near the ground and continues to branch and rebranch as it rises at the distance of an inch or 2 inches, thus forming an infinite number of boughs at the top which are terminated by the flowers which are tubelar, trunnicated scalluped on the edges and five pointed, white colour, order, pentandria moniginia, the leaf is of a toung-like form the larger of which are attatched to the lower part of the stalk, one inch wide in the broadest part & 2 1/2 inches long. the[y] demin[i]s[h] as they are higher on the stalk, tho' they increas in numbers. The Indians cultivate it in the following manner they prepare hills at the distance of about 2 1/2 feet from each other, and leavel the top nearly leaving it somewhat convex. in those hills they sew the seed as early in the spring as the climate will permit them to prepare the earth say latter end of April; they keep the hills clear of weeds and grass by plucking it from among the stalks of tobacco with their fingers and sometimes allso thin the stalks of tobacco by plucking up the weaker stalks tho they leave many stalks to grow on each hill. when the tobacco begins to form it's seed poods it is then ready for the knife when a great portion from each hill is cut and hung on sticks untill it is nearly dry when they form them into carrots of the thickness of a mans arm role them closely with willow bark and hang them in the smoke of their lodges to dry. in forming the carrot they put the butts or lower parts of the stalks together. where the tobacco is cultivated with a view to make carrots the stalks are so thick that they do not attain a thickness at the largest part of the stem greater than that of a small quill. They esteem much more the corroller dryed for the purpose of smoking and for this purpose leave some plant [s] more widely seperated from each other in which situation they produce a greater abundance of flowers & seed they begin to blume in the month of [blank space in MS.] and continue untill the first frost; during the full blume of the flower they pluck the corrollar together with the flower and discarding the latter suffer the former to dry in the shade when perfectly dryed it resembles at first view the green tea and in that state it is smoked by the Indians and I found it very pleasent. it dose not affect the nerves in the same manner that the tobacco cultivated in the U'S. dose. The smaller species of this plant differs but little from this just discribed. it is cultivated in the same manner and bears a flower like the other only smaller. the only difference is the form of the leaf, which is larger say 4 times the size and ovate they dry this on sticks and use it in that manner it is reather stronger than the large kind and is seldom made into carrots by the Recares.

it is worthy of remark that the recares never use sperituous liquors. Mr Tibeau informed me that on a certain occasion he offered one of their considerate men a dram of sperits, telling him it's virtues the other replved that he had been informed of it's effects and did not like to make himself a fool unless he was paid to do so that if Mr T. wished to laugh at him & would give him a knife or breech-coloth or something of that kind he would take a glass but not otherwise.

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