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  • c.1 BCE: Experts believe American inhabitants have begun finding ways to use tobacco,

including smoking (in a number of variations), chewing and in probably hallucinogenic enemas (by the Peruvian Aguaruna aboriginals).

  • c. 1 CE: Tobacco was "nearly everywhere" in the Americas. (American Heritage Book of

Indians, p.41).

  • 470-630 CE: Between 470 and 630 A.D. the Mayas began to scatter, some moving as far as

the Mississippi Valley. The Toltecs, who created the mighty Aztec Empire, borrowed the smoking custom from the Mayas who remained behind. Two castes of smokers emerged among them. Those in the Court of Montezuma, who mingled tobacco with the resin of other leaves and smoked pipes with great ceremony after their evening meal; and the lesser Indians, who rolled tobacco leaves together to form a crude cigar. The Mayas who settled in the Mississippi Valley spread their custom to the neighboring tribes. The latter adapted tobacco smoking to their own religion, believing that their god, the almighty Manitou, revealed himself in the rising smoke. And, as in Central America, a complex system of religious and political rites was developed around tobacco. (Imperial Tobacco Canada, Tobacco History)

  • 600-1000 CE: UAXACTUN, GUATEMALA. First pictorial record of smoking: A pottery

vessel found here dates from before the 11th century. On it a Maya is depicted smoking a roll of tobacco leaves tied with a string. The Mayan term for smoking was sik'ar

Introduction: The Chiapas Gift, or The Indians' Revenge?

Columbus' sailors find Arawak and Taino Indians smoking tobacco. Some take up the habit and begin to spread it worldwide.

  • 1492-10-12: Columbus Discovers Tobacco; "Certain Dried Leaves" Are Received as Gifts,

and Thrown Away. On this bright morning Columbus and his men set foot on the New World for the first time, landing on the beach of San Salvador Island or Samana Cay in the Bahamas, or Gran Turk Island. The indigenous Arawaks, possibly thinking the strange visitors divine, offer gifts. Columbus wrote in his journal, the natives brought fruit, wooden spears, and certain dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance. As each item seemed much-prized by the natives; Columbus accepted the gifts and ordered them brought back to the ship. The fruit was eaten; the pungent "dried leaves" were thrown away.

  • 1492-10-15: Columbus Mentions Tobacco. "We found a man in a canoe going from Santa

Maria to Fernandia. He had with him some dried leaves which are in high value among them, for a quantity of it was brought to me at San Salvador" -- Christopher Columbus' Journal

  • 1492-11: Jerez and Torres Discover Smoking; Jerez Becomes First European Smoker Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, in Cuba searching for the Khan of Cathay (China), are credited with first observing smoking. They reported that the natives wrapped dried tobacco leaves in palm or maize "in the manner of a musket formed of paper." After lighting one end, they commenced "drinking" the smoke through the other. Jerez became a confirmed smoker, and is thought to be the first outside of the Americas. He brought the habit back to his hometown, but the smoke billowing from his mouth and nose so frightened his neighbors he was imprisoned by the holy inquisitors for 7 years. By the time he was released, smoking was a Spanish craze.

  • 1493: Ramon Pane, a monk who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, gave lengthy

descriptions about the custom of taking snuff. He also described how the Indians inhaled smoke 2

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