Quinoa was first domesticated by Andean peoples around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. It has been an important staple in the Andean cultures where the plant is indigenous but relatively obscure to the rest of the world. The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to it as chisoya mama or "mother of all grains", and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using "golden implements".
During the Spanish conquest of South America, the colonists scorned it as "food for Indians", and suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies. The conquistadors forbade quinoa cultivation at one point, and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.