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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday May 20th 2024

Native American Teens Honor Traditional Tobacco & Fight Commercial Tobacco Use

Sophia Sarenpa and 7 other Native American Mashkiki Ogichidaag (Ojibwe for “Medicine Warriors”) teens, worked all summer on anti-commercial tobacco smoking public service announcements (PSAs).  The teens brainstormed concepts, developed scripts, conducted interviews, handled the lighting and cameras ”“ and premiered their new works August 25th at the Division of Indian Work”'s Dakota Lodge, 1001 E. Lake St., Minneapolis.

“I”'ve learned so much about the difference between traditional and commercial tobacco use,” said Sophia.  “Like how something so sacred has caused so many of our people to die.  I”'ve come to care about the issue a lot.”

Tiana LaPointe, a Native film artist project mentor says,  “They really took on the leadership for the project. They worked in front and behind the camera, and were in charge of their own shoots.”
Armando Rivera loved learning about filmmaking, and discovered a lot about the original, gifted and sacred tobacco of Native nations.

  • PSA #1: Mashkiki Ogichidaag mission focus; promote community awareness and support for adoption of commercial tobacco-free policies with American Indian worksites in the Twin Cities.
  • PSA #2:  features statistics and facts about the dangers of second-hand smoke in Native communities.

This is Phase Two of an initiative for cultural values and traditional strengths to help the Native youth become policy change advocates.  They produced four videos for community presentations, YouTube, and created an online petition at to make it easier for people to show support for their anti-commercial tobacco stand.

All Nations Indian Church, Native American Community Clinic, Migizi Communications, Indigenous People”'s Task Force, and Div. of Indian Works have adopted new policies banning the use of commercial tobacco use on their property and have also revised their policies.

The teens understand that progress is incremental.  But with the program goal of building capacity in American Indian youth as traditional tobacco use and policy change advocates and protectors of Native medicines for future generations, they are making great strides.

Mashkiki Ogichidaag videos: YouTube or ordered on DVD 612-279-6355 or

Mashkiki Ogichidaag is a program of the Division of Indian Work, and funded by the American Indian Community Tobacco Initiative and a Tobacco-Free Communities Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

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Reader Feedback

One Response to “Native American Teens Honor Traditional Tobacco & Fight Commercial Tobacco Use”

  1. Fay Thomson says:

    Congratulations to all the people who are doing all this action against tobacco.
    There is a project/competition started in Australia that you might like to look up and think about.
    Best Wishes , Fay Thomson

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