While European settlers certainly did bring their fair share of modern evils to the New World—and despite what you've probably heard—alcohol wasn't one of them.
In fact, people have been brewing beer since as far back as 12,000 BC during the Late Epipaleolithic era. After all, all it takes are some stone tools, a local grain, and a can-do attitude, all of which Native Americans possessed. As Today I Found Out explains:
In Mexico, some believe Native Americans used a corn precursor to make a brewed drink; they note: "the ancestral grass of modern maize, teosinte, was well suited for making beer – but was much less so for making corn flour." In addition, it is well established that Mexican Native Americans prepared "over forty different alcoholic beverages [from] . . . a variety of plant substances, such as honey, palm sap, wild plum, and pineapple."
In the Southwestern U.S., the Papago, Piman, Apache and Maricopa all used the saguaro cactus to produce a wine, sometimes called haren a pitahaya. Similarly, the Apache fermented corn to make tiswin(also called tulpi and tulapai) and the yucca plant to make a different alcoholic beverage.
Of course, none of these were much stronger than wine, so the whiskey and grain alcohol brought over by the Europeans was likely far stronger than anything they'd experienced so far.
Image via Mihai Simonia/Shutterstock