The Olmecs were the first major civilization in Mesoamerica. They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the modern-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmec flourished during Mesoamerica's Formative period, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed.

The group of misguided people led by Pamela Lisketter from Nantucket Island traveled to Olmec lands in an attempt to treat with the tribe. The group was captured and, while in custody, David Lisketter inadvertently infected members of the tribe with mumps, thereby rendering the male members of the tribe sterile and destroying the civilization.