Lecture Series

“Smoke Signals: The Importance of Pipe-smoking in Native American Societies of the Southern Appalachians”

Presented by: Dr. Dennis Blanton

Tobacco is used worldwide today by millions. But for Native American Indians, its traditional consumption was a sacred act. In their world, every significant event was sanctified by the consumption of tobacco, very often by smoking it in pipes of clay or stone. Archaeologists have determined that this practice probably existed for at least 2000 years in our region of the country. They have also documented the ways that ritualized use of pipes changed over time. This talk will describe that long history of smoking and explain how and why the ritual changed over time and why it sometimes differed from one group to another. Examples will be drawn from Virginia and the surrounding region.

Dr. Dennis Blanton

Meet the Speaker

Dennis Blanton is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at James Madison University. His research is archaeological in nature and it focuses on late prehistoric Native Americans and the period of first “contact” between Native people and exploring or colonizing Europeans. An element of those studies concerns Native smoking ritual and a book-length summary of that research, entitled Mississippian Smoking Ritual in the South Appalachian Region, was published in 2015 by the University of Tennessee Press.

*Due to technical difficulties, this lecture was not recorded.