Nez Perce Indians grew and smoked tobacco long before white merchants and settlers arrived to the Pacific Northwest, new research…
Nez Perce Indians grew and smoked tobacco long before white merchants and settlers arrived to the Pacific Northwest, new research from Washington State University revealed.
By testing the test tubes for nicotine residues, researchers determined that Nez Perce cultivated wild tobacco strains 1200 years ago in the hot, dry climate along the Snake River.
The research represents the longest continuous biomolecular record “Tobacco Smoking from a Single Region in the World,” wrote the authors of an article published Monday in the emergence of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings upset previous theories that inner northwestern indigenous people only smoke others plants – like kinnikinnick ̵
1; before traders introduced tobacco from the eastern US around 1790.
“Man’s dance with this powerful plant is much older than 140 years since the first mass-marked cigarettes were produced,” according to the research article.
Nicotine addiction extends back thousands of years, the study says, and researchers only begin to understand tobacco history and its “co-development relationship with humans.”
Research may have consequences for built-in smoking processes.
About 34 percent of American Indians and Alaska infants reach 18 years and older smoke cigarettes – the high The existence of racial and ethnic groups in the United States, according to the centers of disease control and prevention. They also have high smoking-related diseases, including lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Although tobacco use has a long-standing role in tribal culture and ceremonial use, the varieties that were smoked by Nez Perce’s ancestors contained lower levels of nicotine, the study said. And instead of being used for recreation, tobacco smoked in limited amounts of selected community members, research said.
Shannon Tushingham, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the WSU Anthropological Museum, is the lead writer of the study. During a previous excavation of plank house in northern California she came across two soapstone stones. Tushingham began to wonder what the residents of the old house were smoking and about tobacco was a part of the mix.
“Usually in archeology we find only small pieces of artifacts, things that you may not like much about,” she said in a news release. “But the information you can extract from them at the molecular level is phenomenal.”
Tushingham worked with another WSU professor, David Gang of the Institute of Biological Chemistry, to analyze pipes and pipe fragments in the WSU Museum of Anthropology. With the cooperation of the Nez Perce tribal leaders, they collaborated with mass spectrometry to analyze a dozen artifacts from places along the Columbia and Snake rivers in the tribal ancestral home. None of the tubes or fragments were damaged during the study.
Nicotine was present on pipes dating before and after Euro-American contact. Tobacco native to this area (Nicotiana attenuata) is sometimes called coyot tobacco. It is a small, scrubby species grown in sandy river rods. Another variety of northwestern tobacco (Nicotiana quadrivalvus) had a natural area in southwestern Oregon and northern California.
As tobacco needed to be planted to thrive in the northwest, Tushingham said it is obvious that the Indians cultivated it. But new, higher nicotine sticks of tobacco arrived on trade routes.
Tobacco-Euro-Americans used for trade originate in Andesen in South America, where the tampering process began as much as 8,000 years ago. Genetic selection led to plants with larger leaves and higher nicotine content than wild varieties.
The tobacco varieties spread to the Caribbean natives in the Bahamas introduced Columbus to tobacco. By the 16th century, tobacco plantations had grown in the Caribbean and Eastern America, and tobacco became a global commodity product in the 17th century.
“Explorers, missionaries and traders soon discovered that tobacco was highly appreciated by domestic people, especially in places where tobacco was difficult to get and difficult to grow,” said the research article.
Dried commercial tobacco was stronger than wild varieties and came into light-transportable bundles called “twists” or “candles.” Like Hudson Bay Co. Explorers spread throughout the northwest, the use of introduced tobacco took over domestic varieties among the tribes.
“Understand the extent to which domestic cereals of commercial tobacco have replaced domestic tobacco products and other smokers,” said the research.
The shift from traditional smoking of domestic tobacco and other commercial tobacco products has had “significant harmful effects on the root culture and health, the study said.”
Understanding the difference between native tobacco used in traditional ceremonies and the commercially manufactured product may help tribal members quit smoking.