Missions and the Early History of Tobacco in Eastern Papua

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

Dept. of Anthropology


According to myths and legends told by some peoples of New Guinea, tobacco is an ancient and indigenous plant, having appeared sponotaneously in a variety of ways. In other instances, the plant and the custom of smoking it are said to have been established by local culture heroes, while still other traditions prosaically cite adoptions from neighboring groups. On the basis of oral history alone, then, one might conclude that New Guinea tobacco appeared in widely scattered locations in the mythic past, and its distribution at the time of European contact is explainable as simple diffusion within the region.