Whiskey Peddling - American Old West

I happened to be watching an old Eastwood classic Hang 'Em High last night. One of the rampant crimes noted was Whiskey Peddling.

I haven’t been able to locate anything about exactly what that term meant and why it was a crime at the time? All the write ups I found were just about whiskey sellers.

So in the context of the American Old West, what did a Whiskey Peddler do exactly and why was it illegal?

I would guess that the crime was not paying the taxes that are associated with the whiskey.

Just what the name says: peddling (that is, selling) whiskey. Prohibition wasn’t created in 1919 when it was adopted nationally; a few states had it well before then. Maine had it before the Civil War, IIRC. In those places, selling whiskey would be a crime.

Also, whiskey was a lot more potent, and was believed to cause a lot more social problems, than the historic drinks of beer (by Northern Europeans) and wine (Southern Europeans) so traditions involving drinking moderate amounts of relatively low-alcohol beer and wine weren’t so moderate when high-alcohol liquor was substituted. (All this IIRC from the PBS documentary on prohibition.)

Peddling whisky to Indians.

This is 99.9% certain to be the answer.

That makes sense.

Peddling whiskey? That’s a paddlin.

The whiskey trade contributed to Canadian concerns about Americans taking over the Canadian west. The Cypress Hills Massacre, in which Americans killed approximately 2 dozen Indians in Canada, and Fort Whoop-Up, both were influences on the government of Canada establishing a police presence, the North-West Mounted Police.