The Traditional Native American Tobacco Seed Bank and Education Program

The Traditional Native American Tobacco Seed Bank and Education Program (TNAT)

The Traditional Native American Tobacco Seed Bank and Education Program (TNAT) specializes in the preservation of traditional Native American tobacco types, as well as the education of Native American youth about the health dangers of tobacco. While this may seem like a contradiction, it is not, since it is based on the recognition that tobacco is an extremely dangerous and powerful plant, that is considered sacred by native people throughout North, Central, and South America.

When used improperly, such as when it is smoked in cigarettes or otherwise ingested in a commercial form, tobacco is a deadly killer. When used properly, in very small amounts in traditional Native American ceremonies and prayers, tobacco (like sacramental wine in a Catholic Mass) becomes a positive source of religious power.

TNAT has two related purposes that readers might be interested in. First, we are dedicated to the collection, preservation, growth, and distribution of the seeds of traditional tobacco types -- i.e., the various types used by different tribes for rituals and similar purposes. Any Native American requesting seeds of the type used by his or her tribe will be sent them at no cost, as long as they agree to use the resulting tobacco ONLY for traditional purposes, and NOT for so-called "recreational" smoking. In return, we ask that anyone who has traditional tobacco seeds, or who knows someone who does, to send some to us, so that we can add them to the bank, grow them, harvest fresh seeds, and give them to other tribal members needing them.

The second, related purpose of TNAT is to educate Native American youth (and others who are interested) about the dangers of commercial tobacco, and even the dangers of abusing traditional tobacco. Smoking-cessation programs, anti-smoking classes, traditional tobacco "camps", presentations about the natural and cultural history of tobacco, papers presented at scientific meetings, talks to service groups about commercial and traditional tobacco, and related educational programs are available.

Finally, since we are gearing our educational programs towards Native American youth, we are very interested in what other tobacco educators are doing, especially with regard to Native American youth but with other youth as well. If you are involved in such a program, please contact us, so that we can learn about your's, and share some of our ideas with you.

Thank you.

Joseph Winter and Lawrence Shorty
Dept. of Anthropology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
email -

Updated January 25, 1996

  • Posted by Gene Borio, the Tobacco BBS (212-982-4645. WebPage:

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