This week in SLC the students had a chance to make smudge sticks with Dolly Potts, she talked about the four sacred smudging herbs (sage, cedar, sweetgrass and tobacco) These medicines are the anchor of the medicine wheel, and we use them for smudging rituals and cleansing.

The Four Sacred Plants

 Nāēqnemāw (tobacco) 

Nãēgnemāw is one of the four sacred plants, representing the eastern direction. Menominee used the form of tobacco known as Kinikinik or red willow. There are many who use store bought tobacco. Nāēqnemăw is used in the offering of prayer to the Creator, acting as a means for communication. It is offered to the fire, so the smoke can lift the prayers to the Creator, or offered to Mother Earth at the foot of a tree or in the water. This is done daily, greeting with prayer and giving thankfulness. The Elders say hold it in your left hand as that is closest to your heart. It is always good to offer Nāēqnemāw when asking for knowledge or advice from Elders or when a pipe is present.

 Kēsaehkāhtek (cedar) 

Kēsaehkāhtek or cedar represents the southern direction. The leaves are cleaned from the stems and separated into small pieces which are used in many ways. Kēsaehkāhtek, acts as a purifier, when burned it gives off a pleasant scent. Elders say, put some in your shoes (Māhkesenan) and goodness will come your way.

 Cēpāyawew Maskīhkiw (Sage) “Spirit Medicine” 

Sage is used in the same way as Kēsaehkāhtek. It is burned as a purifier, it has a strong and distinct scent. Sage was not a native plant species of the woodlands landscape. The word used for sage here is taken from the lessons of Lillian “Wausejeun” Nelson. There are other terms that people have come up with to describe sage.

 Sēwepak (sweet grass) 

Sēwepak is known for its beautiful sweet scent and is enhanced when it rains or is burned. This is also a purifier. It is often braided this signifies the hair of our Mother Earth. The three sections of the braid have a specific meaning; Mind, Body and Spirit. 

When taking from the earth, we should always explain to the plant’s Spirit why we are taking it and offer some Nāēqnemāw. The Omãqnomenēwak Native culture is our lifeline as we all search for direction and meaning in our lives. Knowing and learning our Spiritual culture we discover ourselves. 


The students really enjoyed making smudge sticks, and explained that they will be using them at home.