TOBACCO is the most distinctive of Crow medicines, but the species ceremonially planted, Nicotiana multivalvis, or "Short Tobacco," ōp pu″mite, (also i″'tsi'ts`a), is not the species anciently smoked. This latter, derived from the Hidatsa, is in Crow called "Tall Tobacco," ōp ha″tskite, and botanically Nico- tiana quadrivalvis. Only Nicotiana multivalvis was considered holy, being mystically identified with the stars. In Medicine- crow's version of the Creation story, the Creator, or rather Transformer, walks about the newly-shaped earth with his companions and catches sight of a person. "Look, yonder is a human being. . . . That one is one of the Stars above. He is down here now and standing on the ground. Come on, let us look at him." As they approach, the being has transformed himself into a plant, the Tobacco; "no other plant was growing yet." The Transformer decrees that the Crow shall plant it in the spring and dance with it; it shall be their "means of living," their mainstay. The Sun himself adopts a poor fasting boy and thus starts the Tobacco order. For sowing the sacred seed is a prerogative that can be secured only by due initiation into the bacu″sua (= "Soaking" = Tobacco) organization.
The theory of its further development, borne out by recent history, is simple. The founder adopted novices, precisely as any visionary became ceremonial "father" to those who craved a share in his supernatural blessings. But newcomers might have independent visions supplementing the primary revelations, whence sanctions for adopting further novices. Thus, branches sprang up, -- each little group under its own leadership, with distinctive songs and emblems as defined in the visions. Though these divisions are called by the same term -- araxu″a'tse -- as the independent military clubs, I prefer designating them as chapters of one order, for a strong bond unites together all bacu″sua initiates.
With Crow of both sexes constantly yearning for revelations, an indefinite number of chapters could arise, and actually
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Publication information: Book title: The Crow Indians. Contributors: Robert H. Lowie - Author. Publisher: Farrar & Rinehart. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1935. Page number: 274.
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