Did Early Native Americans Smoke Weed?


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It is properly documented that Native Americans introduced pipe smoking and tobacco to European colonists in the 16th century. Having said that, Native Americans had been at some point exposed to cannabis by way of European colonists who trafficked cannabis consuming slaves and industrial hemp to North America from Africa and Asia. But did Native Americans smoke weed?

The quick answer is, yes. Native Americans smoked weed. As did Native Asians, Native Europeans, and Native Africans. But as is the case with any historical narrative, the story is extra difficult than that.

How Did Cannabis Get to the Americas?

In a 2014 Geographical Evaluation write-up, Professor Barney Warf of the University of Kansas outlines cannabis’ thousands-years-lengthy geographical journey about the globe. Cannabis’ diffusion from Asia to the Americas was the outcome of a mixture of cultural, political, and financial influences.

According to Warf, cannabis probably evolved in Mongolia and southern Siberia. Alternatively, it could have evolved close to the Huang He River valley, the Hindu Kush mountains, Afghanistan, or someplace in South Asia.

Warf reports that the human use of cannabis could attain back as far as 12,000 years. Psychoactive cannabis has been located in Pazaryk burial grounds from three,000 BC. Chinese paintings dating to six,200 BC containing photos of the cannabis plant have been identified on Yangshao-era pottery. Carbon-14 dating technologies has revealed that cannabis could have been applied as a surgical anesthetic for emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BC.

About 2000 BC, cannabis moved from China to Korea and Japan. Cannabis use was pervasive amongst nomadic tribes sojourning by way of central Asia. These tribes brought cannabis with them to the Middle East and eastern Europe.

The Aryan invasions occurring involving two,000 and 1,000 BC had been most probably accountable for introducing cannabis to the south Asia, exactly where it became and continues to be an crucial cultural staple for religious and medicinal factors in India.

Nomadic tribes close to the Rhein and Key rivers brought cannabis from eastern Europe to Germany. The Anglo-Saxon invasion could be accountable for the introduction of cannabis to Britain and France.

Cannabis was probably introduced to Africa by way of Egypt and Ethiopia by Arab merchants from the Middle East. Cannabis steadily spread from the east coast of Africa to the internal continent, exactly where it was typically applied by the time the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century.

Colonial capitalism and slave trade are accountable for the introduction of cannabis to the Americas. After pipe smoking was adopted for cannabis consumption, the recreational use of cannabis became a great deal extra well known due to the almost quick psychoactive effects created by inhaling weed.

The Spanish, Portuguese, and British are accountable for introducing cannabis to the Americas.

Portuguese slave traders trafficked cannabis-utilizing Africans from Angola to Brazil. From there, cannabis use spread amongst poor laborers in the Amazon. Spanish colonists introduced cannabis to Colombia, Chile, and Mexico.  British colonists trafficked Indian slaves to the Caribbean. These slaves applied cannabis recreationally and spiritually, and this practice spread to Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad.

In quite a few circumstances, the recreational use of cannabis by slaves was encouraged—as lengthy as marijuana consumption did not negatively effect labor. Slave owners encouraged the plant’s mood-enhancing and tranquilizing effects. In this way, cannabis became an productive tool for controlling and assuaging slave labor.

When North American Indians had been accountable for introducing tobacco to the British, British colonists had been the ones who introduced cannabis to North American Indians.  Although the British had been conscious of the psychotropic effects of smoking cannabis, they had been far extra interested in the financial versatility of industrial hemp. Hemp was such an crucial component of the British empire’s economy, Queen Elizabeth ordered that all landowners with 60 or extra acres of land had been essential to develop hemp or spend a fine. Farmers in the early North American colonies had been essential to develop hemp which includes such notable figures as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Cannabis Acceptance Varies from Tribe to Tribe

According to the National Congress of American Indians, there are 573 federally recognized Indian Nations, each and every of which is ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse. This quantity does not include things like Indian Nations (also referred to as tribes, communities, native villages, nations, pueblos, and bands).

It does not take a statistician or an anthropologist to recognize that attitudes toward cannabis probably differ not only involving nations, but involving Native American men and women.

Furthermore, from its genesis, the connection involving the United States Federal Government and the indigenous peoples who inhabited this continent ahead of European colonists arrived has been contentious with a substantial disproportion of energy leaning on the side of the colonizers. That suggests that the vast majority of history books, media, and cultural artifacts studied by young children and adults do not include a thorough or correct recount of Native American history.

We can extrapolate primarily based on the geographical movement of cannabis from Asia to the Americas that numerous tribes had been exposed to industrial and recreational cannabis the way that people today all through the globe have been exposed to the plant. And as we see in our personal states, opinions about cannabis differ from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood, and household to household.

That exact same variance is to be anticipated from American Indian Nations. In addition to person ethical and moral perspectives about cannabis, American Indian Tribes obtain federal funding that they have come to rely on. As lengthy as cannabis remains federally illegal, legalizing marijuana poses a threat to that funding.

Lastly, as noted by a University of Tennessee Baker Center for Public Policy report by Miranda Gottlieb named “Cannabis and The Eastern Cherokee Nation: The Challenges, Barriers, and Prospects,” Native American tribes have been the subjects of discriminatory targeting by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The report indicates that in 2015, 30,000 industrial hemp plants had been seized by the DEA from the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin. Though the Menominee Tribe was operating inside the legal parameters of the 2014 Farm Bill, the DEA destroyed their hemp operation.

Cannabis has been applied by communities all more than the globe dating back numerous millennia. The factors for its use are as variable as the cultures that adopt it. As they did when humans initially started to harvest and use cannabis, attitudes toward the plant will continue to shift in response to international cultural, political, financial influences.


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