The term "kinnikinnick" derives from the Unami Delaware /kələkːəˈnikːan/, "mixture" (c.f. Ojibwe giniginige "to mix something animate with something inanimate"), from Proto-Algonquian *kereken-, "mix (it) with something different by hand".
By extension, the name was also applied by the colonial European hunters, traders, and settlers to various shrubs in which the bark or leaves are employed in the mixture, most often Bearberry (Arctostaphylos spp.) and to lesser degree, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and Silky Cornel (Cornus amomum), and even to Canadian Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens) and the Littleleaf Sumac (Rhus microphylla).
Preparation and use
The preparation varies by locality and nation. Bartlett quotes Trumbull as saying: "I have smoked half a dozen varieties of kinnikinnick in the North-west — all genuine; and have scraped and prepared the red willow-bark, which is not much worse than Suffield oak-leaf.
Eastern tribes traditionally used Nicotiana rustica for social smoking, while western tribes usually used a variety of kinnikinick for ceremonial use. Cutler cites Edward S. Rutsch's study of the Iroquois, listing ingredients used by other Native American tribes: leaves or bark of red osier dogwood, arrowroot, red sumac, laurel, ironwood, wahoo, squaw huckleberry, Indian tobacco, cherry bark, and mullein, among other ingredients.
In regards to material used for smoking by the Ojibwa, Densmore records the following: The material smoked by the Chippewa in earliest times were said to be the dried leaves of the bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.), and the dried, powdered root of a plant identified as Aster novae-angliae L.. Two sorts of bark were smoked, one being known as "red willow" (Cornus stolonifera Michx.) and the other as "spotted willow" (Cornus rugosa Lam.). The inner bark is used, after being toasted over a fire and powdered. It is then stored in a cloth or leather bag, and may be used on its own or in combination with other herbs.
|“||The older hunter watched the singular preparations of his silent son, and suspecting that he had discovered signs of an enemy, arose, and saying he would go and cut a few sticks of the red willow [Kinnikinnick] to smoke, he left the lodge to go and see with his own and more experienced eyes, what were the signs of danger.||”|
|— Warren, History of the Ojibway people|
|“||Tobacco used in the early day consisted of the inner bark of red dogwood — Indians on all reservations called it 'red willow.' An informant removed the outside bark of a twig with her thumbnail and noted that the remaining layer of bark when carefully shaven off served as tobacco, so-called kinnikinnick. Today kinnikinnick is a mixture of finely crushed inner bark of the red dogwood and shavings of plug tobacco. The mixture is worked with a mortar with pestle, both mortar and pestle being of wood. This mixture, too, is used today for ceremonial smoking.||”|
|— Hilger, Chippewa Child Life|
|“||Kinnikinic, n. caŋṡaṡa.||”|
|— Williamson. An English-Dakota Dictionary|
|“||There are also certain creeks where the Indians resort to lay in a store of kinnik-kinnik (the inner bark of the red willow), which they use as a substitute for tobacco, and which has an aromatic and very pungent flavour. It is prepared for smoking by being scraped in thin curly flakes from the slender saplings, and crisped before the fire, after which it is rubbed between the hands into a form resembling leaf tobacco, and stored in skin bags for use. It has a highly narcotic effect on those not habituated to its use, and produces a heaviness sometimes approaching stupefaction, altogether different from the soothing effects of tobacco.||”|
|— Ruxton, Geo. Frederick "Life in the Far West" 1848;
quoted in "Mountain Men" edited by Rounds, Glen 1966, p.163
- Algonquin: nasemà, "tobacco" (mitàkozigan, "unmixed tobacco"; apàkozigan, "mixed tobacco")
- Dakota and Lakota: čhaŋšáša
- Menominee : ahpa͞esāwān, "kinnikinnick"
- Odaawaa: semaa, "tobacco" (mtaaḳzigan, "unmixed tobacco"; paaḳzigan, "mixed tobacco")
- Ojibwe: asemaa, "tobacco" (mitaakozigan, "unmixed tobacco"; apaakozigan, "mixed tobacco")
- Shosnoni: äñ′-ka-kwi-nûp, "kinnikinnick" 
- Winnebago: roxį́šučkéra, "bark to smoke" 
- "kiniginige" in Frederic Baraga A Dictionary of the Ojibway Language. Minnesota Historical Society Press (St. Paul, MN: 1992). ISBN 0-87351-281-2. Part II, page 189.
- Flexner, Stuart Berg and Leonore Crary Hauck, eds.. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed. (unabridged). Random House (New York: 1987). Page 1058.
- "Kinnikinnick" in Frederick Webb Hodge (editor) Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington: 1911). Part 1, page 692.
- Charles L. Cutler. Tracks that speak: the legacy of Native American words in North American culture. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston : 2002). Pages 174–176. ISBN 0-618-06510-5
- ""Kinnikinnick" in John Russell Bartlett. Dictionary of Americanisms, 4th Edition. Little, Brown, and Company (New York: 1877). Page 335.
- Frances Densmore. Chippewa Customs. Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington: 1929) Reprint: Minnesota Historical Society Press (St. Paul: 1979). Pages 144-145.
- Warren, William W.. History of the Ojibway People. Minnesota Historical Society Press (St. Paul, MN : 1885; repr. 1984). Page 150 and page 411.
- Inez Hilger. Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background. Minnesota Historical Society Press (St. Paul, MN : 1951, repr. 1992). Page 63.
- John P. Williamson. An English-Dakota Dictionary. Minnesota Historical Society Press (St. Paul, MN : 1902; repr. 1992). Page 95.
- Ruxton, Geo. Frederick "Life in the Far West" 1848; quoted in "Mountain Men" edited by Rounds, Glen 1966, p.163
- Chamberlin, Ralph Vary (1911). "The Ethno-botany of the Gosiute Indians of Utah" (PDF). Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association Vol II, part 5. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
- "Hočąk Encyclopedia". Richard L. Dieterle. 2005. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
- Traditional Tobacco pamphlet by the Urban American Indian Tobacco Prevention & Education Network