Smoke Signals: The Native Takeback of North America's Tobacco Industry

Dundurn
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A compelling look at tobacco’s uses and abuses from its Native origins to today’s controversies.

When Europeans discovered tobacco among Amerindians in the New World, it became a long-sought panacea of panaceas, the critical ingredient in enemas, ointments, syrups, and powders employed to treat everything from syphilis to cancer. Almost five centuries passed before medical researchers concluded that tobacco is unhealthy and can cause cancer.

Smoke Signals follows tobacco from its origins in South America’s Andes through its checkered history as a "miracle cure," powerful addictive and poison, friend of government revenue departments, and enemy of law enforcement directed at contraband and tax diversion. Author Jim Poling, Sr., traces tobacco’s sacredness among Natives, notably how the modern substance has changed Native lives, sometimes for the good, often for the bad, explores how the coffers of governments, now so dependent on tobacco revenue, will be affected if the plant’s commercial use is eliminated, and examines how Native traditions, including tobacco as a holy herb, might survive in modern society and strengthen Natives.

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About the author

Jim Poling, Sr., is a former Native affairs writer for Canadian Press and is the author of Waking Nanabijou and Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther. He lives in Alliston, Ontario.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Dundurn
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Published on
Nov 24, 2012
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781459706422
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Canada / General
History / Native American
History / North America
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Jim Poling, Sr.
Shawnee war chief Tecumseh dedicated his life to stopping American expansion and preserving the lands and cultures of North American Aboriginal peoples. He travelled relentlessly trying to build a confederation of tribes that would stop the territorial ambitions of the newly created United States of America.

Tecumseh tried both diplomacy and battle to preserve his Ohio Valley homelands. When he realized that neither could stop the American advancement, he turned to the British in Canada for help as the War of 1812 began. He and Isaac Brock, British geneal and Canadian hero, caputured Detroit early in the war and historians believe they would have gone on to more impressive battles had Brock not fallen at Queenston Heights in 1812. After the loss of Brock, some success was achieved against the Americans, notably in the woods at Fort Meigs, Ohio, in May 1813. But when the Americans won the decisive Battle of Lake Erie later that summer, the door to Canada was opened. Chased by his nemesis William Henry Harrison, Tecumseh and the British retreated, making a final stand at the Battle of Moraviantown. Tecumseh was killed in the battle. His death marked the end of First Nations resistence to American expansion south of the Great Lakes.

A great leader, Tecumseh left an indelible mark on the history of both Canada and the United States. The story of his struggle to preserve a vanishing culture is one that remains relvant toda. One of the greatest tributes to Tecumseh came from his enemy, Harrison, who later became president of the United States. He called Tecumseh an "uncommon genius," who in another place, another time, could have built an empire.

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