February 26, 2007

The world's first smokers

Mayan life was kind of a drag[I]f you're looking for your first hard-core smokers and chewers (perhaps even enemas--ugh!), you'll likely find them among the Mayans of Central America, possibly as early as 1000 B.C. By the time of Christ, tobacco was "nearly everywhere" in the Americas, according to "The American Heritage Book of Indians."

Two classes of smokers began to emerge. On one hand, you had your tribal elders in the Court of Montezuma, who mixed tobacco with the resin of other leaves to smoke pipes with great pomp and circumstance after dinner. Then, you had your blue-collar Indians toking away on crude stogies.

As tobacco use spread throughout the Western Hemisphere, its powerful effect on the human body made it a natural for incorporating into religious and political ceremonies. In North America, for example, some tribes believed that man was given tobacco by the Great Spirit (Gitche Manitou) so he could reveal himself in its smoke.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I guess pre-Columbian Indians didn't smoke tobacco often enough to get cancer. Or did they?