Tobacco plays a big role in Native American history and culture, predating Christopher Columbus’ arrival by well more than a millennium. But what did ancient tribes smoke? And can history help modern-day tribes put tobacco in its proper place?
A newly published study by Washington State University researchers traces the smoking habits of indigenous peoples in southeastern Washington state over the course of centuries, based on a molecular analysis of residue extracted from smoking pipes found at archaeological sites.
“This is the longest continuous biomolecular record of ancient tobacco smoking from a single region anywhere in the world — initially during an era of pithouse development, through the late pre-contact equestrian era, and into the historic period,” the research team, led by WSU anthropologist Shannon Tushingham, reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.