A neighbor, Elizabeth Fasulo, sent this photo from her iPhone today. I had to laugh when I saw it and read her comment, "I thought you might enjoy this ironic juxtaposition of a no-smoking sign and tobacco plants outside the National Museum of the American Indian."
I'm not only enjoying the irony, but it also reminds me of the culture clash between Native beliefs against signs and labeling that the NMAI staff told me they are having to deal with in their mission to educate the public and respect Native cultures. The public wants all of the plants labeled and garden rooms named and explained. The Native tribe representatives want visitors to experience the grounds without any signs or labels whatsoever to let the plants and wildlife speak directly to each person. In other words, the public should stop expecting to be spoon-fed information and they should just chill and let the messages come to them. If you have visited the NMAI gardens lately, you'll have noticed that explanation signs have been added. They are supposed to be discrete and limited.
Since DC lies in the heart of what used to be tobacco plantation territory, even GW had a big crop of it growing at his estate across the river, this plant should most definitely be part of any representational garden of local agricultural history.
Now the question is were folks actually plucking and attempting to smoke these (green!) tobacco leaves? Or was it an attempt to stop the public from even considering it? Or just a poor placement of a public information sign?