Peyote, Conservation, and the Native American Church

Date and Time: 
Friday, 13 April, 2012 - 20:40 to 21:00
FEENEY, Kevin - Washington State University

In 1995, due to the diminishing size of peyote buttons and increasing scarcity of the plant itself, the Native American Church (NAC) declared the “peyote crisis” a top Church priority. The crisis of decreased peyote access is compounded by issues of land use, economic development, harvesting practices, legislation regulating use of controlled substances, as well as the unique legal status of American Indians in the United States. Several solutions to this problem have been proposed, including: importing peyote from Mexico, where populations are still relatively healthy; purchasing habitat for preservation; and, greenhouse cultivation. Each of these solutions, while potentially alleviating problems with access, poses unique legal and economic barriers for the NAC. An examination of these barriers combined with a greater understanding of factors contributing to peyote’s decreased availability may help NAC congregations develop solutions to the present “crisis” that are effective, culturally appropriate, and politically viable.