By Chris Bennett
Several researchers have indicated that the use of cannabis by the native peoples of what is now known as North America pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in 1492.
Early explorer Jacques Cartier, who was from a hemp growing district in France, reported hemp growing here and in use by the native Indians. Solid historical evidence of Native American use of cannabis was provided when archaeologist Bill Fitzgerald discovered five hundred year old pipes in Morriston, Ontario. Resin scrapings showed that the pipes contained “traces of hemp and tobacco that is five times stronger than the cigarettes smoked today.
“In light of this evidence, and the recent media coverage of cannabis cultivation by Mohawk warriors in and around Oka, Quebec, it is interesting to see that at least one of the supporters of the thirty or so Natives who are making a stand for their Sacred Sun Dancing site near Gustafson Lake in British Columbia can also be tied in with cannabis. Warrior John Splitting-the-Sky Hill was seen on much of the media coverage involving the incident at Gustafson Lake. He is the fellow with a pony tail, glasses, and muscle shirt, who was pointing out where the RCMP intruders to the native camp were located. John Splitting-the-Sky Hill has been a strong hemp and marijuana advocate for about five years. By chance I had the pleasure of meeting this modern-day visionary while I was manning a hemp booth at Clayaquot in the summer of 1993.
Mr. Splitting-the-Sky Hill and his crew set up beside us. I was surprised to find that this inspiring individual was thoroughly educated about cannabis. He explained that he had a friendship with Jack Herer and was closely associated with many other key people in the hemp movement. He was handing out copies of a newspaper that was calling for a sovereign Indian Nation, and this newspaper also contained references to hemp. The speech from this Indian warrior reads like a modern-day Revolutionary Manifesto, and can be seen as a source of inspiration to anybody involved in the hemp and marijuana movement. Sadly, the media is trying to present Mr. Splitting-the-Sky Hill and those at Guftsason Lake as an apocalyptic fringe group, like the one that was recently massacred in Waco Texas.
Ironically, the whole apocalyptic concept of a “Holy Armageddon” is a basic tenet of North America’s largest religious group, the Christians. There is however, at least one connection between the prophecies of the Christians and those of native shamans. This is the promise of a sacred tree, one that has a planetary significance at this time. In the closing verses of the Book of Revelation, which appears at the end of the Bible, we read: On either side of the river (of life) stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit each month and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Nations. Revelation 22When you consider that cannabis can be used to save our forests, aid in the cleaning up of our environment, and also provide us with many medicinal benefits, and that it is being harvested every day of every month of the year here in BC, it is hard not to draw an analogy with the above Christian prophecy.
Black Elk’s Great Vision
Besides being in tune with Christian visions of the apocalypse, it would seem from the following evidence that Splitting-the-Sky Hill’s statements are also in sync with some startling Native Indian prophecies as well. A Native Indian Apocalyptic prophecy made at the turn of the century contains many references to a sacred pipe and herbs of power.
In “Black Elk Speaks Of His Great Vision” 3, Black Elk tells us that the Indian people will be brought back together after much suffering. In his vision Black Elk is taken to a council of elders: The oldest spoke again: “Your Grandfathers all over the world are having a council, and they have called you to teach you.” His voice was kind, but I shook all over with fear now, for I knew that these were not old men but the Powers of the World.One of the Grandfathers gives Black Elk a pipe and tells him ”With this pipe you shall walk upon the Earth, and whatever sickens there you will make well.”
And now another Grandfather spoke, he of the place where you are always facing, whence comes the power to grow. “Younger Brother,” he said, “with the powers of a nation I shall give you, and with it many you will save.” And I saw that he was holding in his right hand a bright red stick that was alive, and as I looked it sprouted at the top and sent forth branches, and on the branches many leaves came out and murmured, and in the leaves the birds began to sing. And then for just a little while I thought I saw beneath it in the shade the circled villages of people, and every living thing with roots or legs or wings, and all were happy. ”It shall stand in the center of the Nations circle.” said the Grandfather,”a cane to walk with and a people’s heart; and by your powers you shall make it blossom.”A sacred man rolls on the ground before Black Elk, and in his wake appears a healthy Bison, which in turn is replaced by a sacred herb with four blossoms. Each of the herb’s blossoms is of a different colour, representing the different races of humanity.
Black Elk interprets this as meaning that the Indian Nation would lose the bison but this herb would serve the Indians as another source of strength. He explains that “All the people seemed better when the herb had grown and bloomed.”And later we are told suddenly the flowering tree was there again at the center of the nation’s hoop where the four-rayed herb had blossomed. Then as I stood there, two men were coming from the East, head first like flying arrows, and between them rose the day-break star. They came and gave a herb to me and said, “With this on earth you shall undertake anything and do it.” It was the day-break-star herb, the herb of understanding, and they told me to drop it to earth. I saw it falling far, and when it struck the earth it rooted and grew and flowered, four blossoms on one stem.
Black Elk tells us that “I saw more than I can tell and I understand more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner.”Although Black Elk never specifically names the herb in question, his vision connects the sacred herb with a sacred tree, and in light of John Splitting-the-Sky Hill’s comments it seems reasonable to conclude that Black Elk was referring to cannabis.
Dear reader, the next time you are gathered in a sacred circle to pass the pipe, or share communion via a ‘joint’, pay reverence for the Good Medicine from the Great Spirit, that can be found in that sacred herb which you so enjoy smoking.