Ask the Marshall

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Did America Indians kiss on the lips as an expression of affection?

Alan Hart
Corpus Christi, Texas

It’s difficult to get universal agreement among scholars on kissing. Some researchers believe that many American Indian tribes did not adopt kissing until after having contact with European settlers and Western cultures. In turn, Europeans learned it from the Romans, who got it from the Greeks, etc. Kissing is referenced in the Old Testament. Today, kissing is not practiced in 10 percent of the world.

american indian kiss true west magazine
The 1910 Puck magazine illustrator who drew an American Indian maiden standing beneath a sprig of mistletoe at a Colonial holiday party was probably unaware of the evolution of Native kissing customs.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.


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