Peyote Plant Info: What You Should Know About Growing Peyote Cactus

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is a spineless cactus with a rich history of ritual use in the First Nation culture. In the United States the plant is illegal to cultivate or eat unless you are a member of the Native American Church. The plant is considered poisonous by U.S. officials but First Nations people use it as a sacrament and pathway to religious and personal enlightenment.

While growing peyote is not allowed unless you are a member of the NAC, it is a fascinating plant with attributes worth learning about. There are, however, peyote plant look-a-likes you can grow at home that will satisfy your urge to cultivate this cute little cactus without breaking the law.

What is the Peyote Cactus?

Peyote cactus is a small plant native to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and northeastern Mexico. It has numerous psychoactive chemicals, chiefly mescaline, which is used in religious ceremonies to elevate awareness and cause a mental and physical high. Peyote cultivation is a time-consuming process, as the plant can take up to 13 years to mature. In any event, growing peyote is illegal unless you are a member of the church and have filed the proper paperwork.

The bulk of the plant is underground where thick, wide roots form, looking much like parsnips or carrots. The upper part of the cactus grows about an inch (2.5 cm.) out of the ground in a rounded habit with a diameter of less than 2 inches (5 cm.). It is greenish-blue with 5 to 13 ribs and fuzzy hairs. Peyote plants often have tubercles, which give the ribs a spiral appearance. Occasionally, the plant will produce pink flowers which become club-shaped, edible pink berries.

The plant is considered endangered due to over-harvesting and land development. A similar-looking cactus, Astrophytum Asterias, or star cactus, is legal to grow, but it is also endangered. Star cactus has only 8 ribs and a fibrous root system. It is also called the sand dollar or sea urchin cactus. Star cactus requires similar care to that of peyote and other cacti.

Additional Peyote Plant Info

The part of peyote that is used for ritual is the small cushion-like upper part. The larger root is left in the ground to regenerate a new crown. The upper part is dried or used fresh and is called a peyote button. These are generally no larger than a quarter once dried and the dosage is 6 to 15 buttons. Older peyote plants produce offsets and develop into larger clumps of many plants. The cactus has 9 narcotic alkaloids of the isoquinoline series. The bulk of the effect is visual hallucinations, but auditory and olfactory alterations are also present.

Church members use the buttons as a sacrament and in religious teaching sessions. Care of peyote cacti is similar to most cacti. Grow them in a half and half mix of coconut husk and pumice. Restrict water after seedlings establish and keep the plants in indirect sun where temperatures are between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 32 C.).

A few words on peyote cultivation

An interesting bit of peyote plant info is the form of documentation necessary to grow it.

  • You must be in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon or Colorado.
  • You must be a member of the NAC and at least 25% First Nations.
  • You are required to write a Declaration of Religious Belief, get it notarized and file it with the County Recorder’s Office.
  • You must post a copy of this document above the location where plants will be grown.

Only the 5 states listed allow church members to grow the plant. It is illegal in all other states and is federally unlawful. In other words, it is not a good idea to try to grow it unless you are a documented member of the Native American Church. For the rest of us, the star cactus will provide similar visual appeal and growth habit, without the danger of jail time.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening information purposes only.

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How To : Care for a Lophophora Williamsii peyote cactus

  • By hhurme 9/10/08 6:09 PM
  • WonderHowTo

Right now the cultivation of Lophophora is not scheduled as controlled in majority of countries and is just as any other ornamental plant. Peyote thrives in warm, sunny places, and aren't any more difficult to care for then any other cactus. Watch this video tutorial and learn how to care for a peyote cactus.

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Welcome to the home of the precious cactus, the infamous lophophora williamsii also known as peyote.

You will find here information on how to grow a peyote cactus from seeds and care about all your favourite plants: lophophora , trichocereus , astrophytum , ariocarpus , but also aloe vera and carnivorous plants.

The main purpose here is to help, save, conserve and preserve lophophora williamsii and all endangered species. We only sell seeds and plants in order to be ornament, and to save endangered species. We provide informations about the culture of native american indian civilization, but we don’t encourage anyone to get intoxicated, at it is really dangerous for health and against the law of some countries.

Our purpose is to inform and share our passion, and refrain people from destroying such beautiful plants that can lead to early extinction.

The peyote cactus, mostly the lophophora williamsii is endangered in the wild, we have to do something to protect it to stay in the nature. As we can ‘t control all human activities, we can start to save them by growing some at our own homes, at least some lophophora will remain alive and can be reintroduced into the wild in the future.

Our shop proposes only the most recently harvested lophophora williamsii seeds and healthy peyote plants. W e are not wholesaler and we propose sometimes different varieties but only recently harvested seeds in order to guarantee the highest germination rate.

Every order is processed by hand, so you will have more seeds than expected. By now we don’t propose large cactus plants for sale, especially l ophophora, as documents are more and more difficult to get from the agriculture department and we feel really sad when a plant get caught and destroy by customs.

But the phytosanitary documents are available under several conditions, it takes time to make them and they may not be available for every country.

Contact us to check if the phytosanitary can be made for your order. Of course, if you choose to order a cactus without a phytosanitary, you order at your own risks, totally aware of your local laws and customs requirements. In general we only propose small peyote plant that can get through customs but you must be know the laws of your country and know before ordering that we can’t be held responsible for a cactus seized.

For the lophophora seeds, shipping is guarantee, we hide them very well, all the future little peyote cactus will reach their new home.

We ship almost WORLDWIDE in a discreet way, and yes we also ship lophophora seeds and plants to the USA, AUSTRALIA, NZ, Europe…

All transactions are 256 bit encrypted and very secure. Our site is hacker safe and payments are processed via our worldwide trusted third party payment procesor.
At no time can we see or store your credit card details.

No hidden costs and no abusing shipping rates!

If you have any question, contact us here

Company registration number: 1101500100932

If you like our project and share the same passion you can donate to help your favourite cactus.

The Peyote Crisis and some Suggestions – Revisited

Commentary & thoughts
by Keeper Trout, Blake Edwards & Martin Terry

I also went to survey the gardens in February [1998] . The situation is sad, intolerable, several parcels hunted completely clean. On inquiring with the dealers, I was able to hand sort well over 10,000 dime sizers, most w/roots. They are picked that way because the payment is per unit. […] those 10,000 plus babies are now growing. My idea is to purchase all the babies we can for their eventual re-planting in Texas.”
Leo Mercado 6 July 1998 (personal communication).

Those same plants were later seized (as part of a dump-truck load containing more than 11,230 living peyote plants) and destroyed by a “multijurisdictional task-force” of law enforcement officials despite Leo at that time having been found in court to be in compliance with Arizona state law permitting the sincere religious use of peyote. In the aftermath of what can only legitimately be described as a terroristic home invasion, Leo posted a notice online that he had replanted the 200 or so peyote plants that had been missed or dropped during the raid.
No charges were filed, which fact was likely to prevent a return of his peyote as had occurred after the first time that they seized Leo’s peyote. Instead Leo’s landlord found himself being threatened with the seizure and forfeiture of his property if he did not evict Leo and his family. The basis of that threat was his supposedly renting to a “known illegal drug dealer”, namely Leo!
Apparently Leo’s living example as a human of only modest means successfully propagating and cultivating large numbers of peyote plants outside of Texas was too powerful of an example to be allowed to exist. At the very least, his Kearny, Arizona shade-house and gardens had to be seen as an awkward truth running counter to the lies actively being propagated about it being impossible to grow peyote outside of its native habitat.
From Ch. 3 in Sacred Cacti 3rd edition (with some edits).

Cutting crowns flush at the level of the ground has been established to be the best known harvesting technique for peyote. This approach to enable sustainable harvesting has been known of and employed by peyote consumers in Mexico for millenia. The archaeological peyote specimens discovered strung on a cord at Cuatro Cienegas are more than a thousand years old the Shumla peyote effigies are over six thousand years old.

Seeds for the peyote cactus (lophophora williamsii), growing instructions are included.

The peyote cactus grows very slowly. It takes about a year for the seeds to produce roots and start growing.

The seeds are for germination and cultivation only, not for consumption.

Lophophora Williamsii Seed Growing Instructions

1 ê Fill seed trays or small pots with compost mix and flatten mix down gently. (Any seedling mix purchased at your home and garden centre will do. Premier” Pro Mix found at Rona is one of the best.)
2 ê Soak the compost using boiling water to kill parasites. Once soaked, allow to drain and cool for about an hour.
3 ê Sprinkle seeds evenly over the compost mix, and then gently press seeds down and level with top of mix using a spoon.
4 ê Cover with seed tray cover, or enclose pots in zip lock plastic bags.
5 ê Place under grow lights or in a well lit window but not in direct sunlight as this could scorch your seedlings. Temperature should be between 60 to 100 degrees F (15 degrees C to 37.5 degrees C).
6 ê If pots are placed in zip lock bags water might not be needed for months. If seed trays begin to dry out, spray to moisten the surface.
7 ê Seeds should germinate within 2 to 14 days.
8 ê When seedlings are about six weeks old begin sliding tops of trays a little each day to acclimatize seedlings to surrounding environment. If using pots in zip lock bags, begin poking small holes each day for a couple of weeks to acclimatize seedlings.
9 - Keep seedlings in indirect sunlight for about six months, and then slowly let them have more light. Seedlings should have a lush green color if the light levels are right. If the epidermis turns red it means they are getting too much light. If so raise lights or shade window with appropriate material possibly cheese cloth.
10 ê Be in no hurry to repot your seedlings. Lophophora enjoys the company of others, so wait until they are really fighting for room.

Seedlings will germinate in three to ten days, but can and have germinated in as little as twenty four hours. Initially theyêll appear as little green balls, but a trained eye will soon notice the cotyledons and first set of areoles.

Extra Growing Information for the Real Enthusiast

Lights ê I keep my lights on using timers. Nothing elaborate is needed. Lights should be turned on for twelve to sixteen hours a day.

Temperature ê Most plants seem to like fluctuating temperature, and Lophophora does as well. If the temperature is either to hot or too cold seeds will not germinate. Lophophora seems to bear temperatures between 5 and 41 degrees C. For germination purposes I have found that a day time temperature of anything from 25 to 41 degrees C works very well, so long as the night time temperature does decrease. Night time temperatures should drop lower than 25 degrees C, and as low as 10 degrees C. There seems to be a cross over between day and night time temperature that actually cause the seeds to sprout, and unless this cross over is met most of your seeds will not germinate.
The maximum temperatures vary from 29.1 degrees centigrade to 40.2 degrees, and minimum temperatures range from 1.9 to 10.2 degrees centigrade. Also, in the wild Lophophora exhibits a wide range of aridity, between 64.0 and 394.0.

Adult Peyote plants can tolerate temperatures within a range of 45-100 degrees Fahrenheit. If soil is kept dry, it can survive temperatures as low as 30o F. Frequent watering and a shade cloth will protect it from temperatures exceeding 120 degrees F. Peyote is very sensitive to frost or prolonged near freezing temperatures and is easily injured or killed by frost. It should be brought inside in locations where the temperatures drop below 40 degrees F.

Water - In the growing season, I water my plants twice a week on a regular basis. Some might think this excessive but my plants are robust and very healthy. I also add a very light fertilizer with every watering.

Can Indigenous and Decrim Perspectives Align on Peyote?

For Dawn Davis, a Shoshone PhD candidate at the University of Idaho and Indigenous researcher, peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the mescaline-containing cactus used for centuries by Indigenous North Americans as ceremonial medicine, is more than a subject of study – it’s a way of life. And the fight to protect the plant’s shrinking numbers is a fight to protect practices that date back thousands of years in her culture.

“I’m a peyote researcher and also a peyotist,” she says, referring to the intertribal Native American religious practice in which congregants use peyote as a sacrament. “I have two primary medicines: water is first and peyote is second. It’s not just a medicine to me, but is also my relative, my ancestor. When I was a young girl taking medicine, the plants I was ingesting were plants much older than myself. That relationship is very important.”

Now, she says, peyote is on the brink of extinction, and numbers of poachers are on the rise. “We are trying to deter people from poaching by helping them to understand the impacts that this kind of activity will have on the plant populations and the Indigenous cultures that have had direct relationships for thousands of years,” she explains.

Davis is one of several members of the National Council of Native American Churches (NCNAC) and the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) engaged in a debate that has emerged between Indigenous groups and the decriminalization community about the use and conservation of psychedelic plant medicines, specifically peyote.

A veritable psychedelic renaissance has brought substances that were long taboo (and still federally illegal), back into the limelight in non-indigenous circles, as their medical and therapeutic benefits have been increasingly documented. Meanwhile, Indigenous communities and their allies are trying to protect both the dwindling populations of plants they hold sacred and Indigenous cultural practices that have been oppressed for centuries.

In response to the growing effort to decriminalize plant medicines and its potential impacts on Indigenous plants and cultural practices, the NCNAC and IPCI published an official statement on March 12 asking that “decriminalization efforts not mention peyote explicitly in any list of plants and fungi.”

The statement cites the critically endangered status of the peyote cactus plant, caused by black market poaching, environmental, and ecological reasons, and notes the long span of years when peyote ceremonies were illegal in several states where peyotism was practiced. Until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978, which was amended in 1994, native peoples’ ancient ceremonies were suppressed across the U.S.

Currently, members of federally recognized tribes are the only people in the U.S. for whom peyote is legal. It currently remains illegal to acquire, possess, use or transport for everyone else in the country.

The authors express concern that the decriminalization of peyote could lead to a “false sense of legality” for non-Indigenous people. They write:

“To the extent the ‘Decrim’ movement sends a message to local citizens that peyote is ‘legal,’ the collateral and unintended effort could be to increase interest in non-native persons either going to Texas to purchase peyote or to buy it from a local dealer who has acquired it illegally and unsustainably in Texas … compromis[ing] the decades long work on the part of Native American peyote spiritual leaders and allies.”

And, they write, decriminalization could cause further depletion of the peyote population that remains in the U.S., which only grows in a small area of southern Texas.

The statement came in response to a growing decriminalization movement that has ignited debate over peyote and other naturally-occurring psychedelics. Spearheaded in part by Decriminalize Nature (DN), a collection of organizations and individuals in support of decriminalization have worked in cities around the country and world to change official policies around plant medicines.

The Oakland, California-based board of DN issued a statement on peyote in April, “Peyotl’s Call for Unity.” (The authors of the statement spell used the Aztec name for peyote, “peyotl.”)

DN’s board suggests in their statement that widening access to peyote would increase conservation and protection across what they term “the Pan-American peyotl universe” by allowing legal cultivation of peyote outside of traditional sites, thereby fueling more research into peyote propagation to help ensure its survival. DN also argues that legal growth will deter black market sales and enable Indigenous people from outside the U.S. – including 40 Indigenous groups in Mexico – to use peyote legally inside of the U.S.

As global communities become increasingly interested in Indigenous traditions and medicines, Sandor Iron Rope, former President of the Native American Church, current president of the Native American Council of South Dakota, and member of the Oglala Lakota Oyate (Oglala Sioux Tribe), says the conversation has largely excluded Indigenous leadership.

Iron Rope points out that, though their intentions might have been good, DN did no outreach to Indigenous communities before they began to advance their decriminalization agenda across the U.S.

“We were not included in the initial stages of the Decrim movement,” he says. “As Indigenous practitioners and leaders of these various spiritual bodies deemed the NAC, when we found out this was going on we were blown away, and realized that this could affect our supply and demand and our whole connection to peyote. They didn’t even think about initially contacting Indigenous leaders.”

Iron Rope says that the fast pace of decriminalization and the overwhelming interest in peyote could interrupt a slower, but vital, process of healing now taking place within Indigenous communities as they develop new conservation strategies and conserve their way of life. The first peyote harvests on IPCI and partner land took place just last year, as children reconnected with the practice of harvesting medicine behind eight locked gates.

The conservation timeline

Research into peyote conservation began in 2013, when the NCNAC commissioned the multi-part Peyote Research Project. Its first phase documented the decline of peyote populations, and the second phase (which remains ongoing) identified conservation strategies, including “securing sovereign land” for peyote habitats and working with private landowners to negotiate space for growing, conserving and harvesting peyote. Peyote policy was mostly created and enforced by state regulatory bodies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, which employed peyoteros (licensed peyote distributors), many of whom were Hispanic or Texan landowners, to harvest and deliver peyote from mostly privately-owned land to NAC members.

In 2017, the NCNAC purchased 605 acres of peyote gardens in south Texas, known as the 605, with help from the Riverstyx Foundation. In November of that year, the IPCI was launched. It obtained 501c(3) status in 2018. In 2019, families of NCNAC members and the Azee Bee Nahgha Dine Nation performed the first peyote harvest on the 605.

According to representatives from the NCNAC, the first talks with DN began last year, after DN launched in February, 2019. The initial meeting with leadership was productive, according to Miriam Volat, director of the IPCI and co-director of the RiverStyx Foundation. And then, she says, things shifted.

“They agreed to support the removal of the word ‘peyote’ from their language, and also agreed to support us in framing some of the information we shared about conservation, but that agreement wasn’t followed through on,” she said, in reference to the images of peyote on DN’s promotional materials and logo.

“The spirit of the discussion we had wasn’t taken in by them. They decided to go ahead with their own education, which had a different agenda than listening to the conservation message that might have come from peyote people.”

Carlos Plazola, Chairman of DN’s board, says he agrees with the NAC’s wish to ensure peyote is protected for Indigenous people.

“We are encouraging all DN members and psychedelic practitioners to leave the peyote in the U.S. for the Native American Church and its practitioners and their individual communities, because it’s threatened,” he says. “The numbers of peyote cacti are small, and there are other means of getting mescaline. There is no need to go in and get peyote from the Peyote Gardens.”

In its current iteration, the DN statement does not explicitly say this, but does say that DN advocates for the protection of “peyotl traditions … specific to each tribe or church, practices that must not be appropriated, copied, encroached upon or undermined by uninvited outsiders.”

Plazola says decriminalization is “a local effort to reduce the priority of enforcement against plant medicine use in cities.”

“That just means that the police department and prosecutors in any given city will make it their lowest priority and defund enforcement, creating a local bubble of protection” he explains. However, he adds that “on an ethical level, people just shouldn’t pillage peyote,” although, he says, people have done so “before anyone was talking about decriminalization.”

Plazola also recalls the meetings last year with members of the NAC.

“In August and September of 2019, two months after we passed our local Oakland resolution, we were in contact with leadership of the NAC,” he says.

“Since then we’ve continued to advocate that all of our local groups and anyone passing any state or local legislation remove the words from their resolutions and legislations. We also pledged to work together on education and conservation efforts with the NAC. We’ve not heard much from them until recently, when they expressed concern. We stand ready and willing to support them in their efforts to conserve and preserve peyote, and to keep illegal harvesting of peyote down and keep people from seeing DN as an opportunity to use peyote. We see the NAC as our allies.”

Plazola says he traces two threads in conversations with Indigenous groups about peyote. One is in favor of education around the plant, which he says he hears more from the Huichol community in central Mexico, where agribusiness is threatening peyote’s habitat. Another, he says, “diminishes awareness about the existence of peyote.” He says he sees the latter argument more often in the U.S.

“Those are the two primary camps: to get information out, and to keep it under the radar. I think for us, in all cases related to nature and natural plants, our preference is to talk about it and motivate the masses towards conservation and reverence.”

He says DN will continue to advise their local chapters keep the word “peyote” out of their resolutions and to encourage conservation, which he says he believes honors the NCNAC’s wishes in their conversation (note: the organization used the Aztec name of the plant, “peyotl,” in their statement, which Plazola says was “not an attempt to be snarky,” but to honor “the Aztec empire and its subjugation.”) DN’s website and logo do feature a peyote button, which Plazola has said they will not remove until conversations with NAC leadership. While peyote is not mentioned on the site, “cacti” are listed among the entheogens the group seeks to decriminalize, accompanied by an illustration of peyote and links to external research on peyote.

“We’d love to work with the NAC to support their efforts to have greater amounts of peyote for their communities in their own garden reserves,” he says. “We’d love to work with them on conservation and preservation measures, in the world of conservation biology education and through a concerted effort to preserve and conserve specific endangered species. We await their information to share with our group.”

A cooperative Indigenous initiative

The authors of the NAC statement, as representatives of their communities, have expressed that their ultimate goal is not to partner with DN, but rather to lead their own education and initiatives.

“Currently, we’re not looking to DN in any national or formal way as a partner in sharing conservation information,” says Volat. “Rather, we have to step up more and share some of that information to help people understand what biocultural conservation could mean in the context of this point in history for ecologies and societies.

“We’re not in a back and forth with the leadership of DN. We believe people are interested in and excited about access to conservation, and if they hear more about conservation methods they will deeply care and respect the plant and these cultures – that’s our hope.”

For Steve Moore, senior attorney with the nonprofit Native American Rights Fund, the fact that Indigenous communities in the U.S. have organized and partnered with private landowners on peyote habitats is key to the success of biocultural conservation. “By working cooperatively and educating ranchers, and with them educating us, we’re developing a very powerful alliance, and that’s the way it has to be,” he says.

Iron Rope agrees. “This is an Indigenous-led international organization and movement,” he says. “The President of the Wixáritari Regional Council, the leader of the Huichol people, is in partnership with the IPCI and formally unified with the peyote people of Canada and the US. He’ll be joining our board at the next formal meeting, and it’s been approved by every single village.” He adds that it’s rare for them to partner with anyone.

DN also worked with someone aligned with the Huichol tribe on their statement – Susana Valadez, Founder and Director of the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts. Valadez, who is not herself Inidigeous but married into the tribe, accepted a Nobel Peace Prize nomination on behalf of the tribe in 2019.

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“If we’re going to keep peyote from extinction, the only option in my opinion is to legalize it or it will disappear,” she says. “The NAC and others who venerate the medicine and use it ceremonially have to link our ceremonies. We recognize that the NAC and groups in Indigenous people in the U.S. have fought such hard and long struggles, but this is a realm of knowledge for all humanity to drink from.” She adds that non-Indigenous people coming into ceremony must “correctly ask for permission,” with reverence and respect.

Plazola says he sees “various perspectives here that are all valid, and as we [DN] have this conversation we want to do it as a community.” He points to the many threats peyote and the communities who use it ceremonially face, including agribusiness and mining in Mexico. In his view, decriminalization could unite people in their defense of Indigenous culture.

“In terms of members of the community, we’re not drawing lines between borders,” he notes. “Borders exist and were thrust upon us, and they have different dynamics based on governments’ actions toward individual people. We want to get to a place that doesn’t give power to those borders, that allows us to rise above historic oppression and subjugation. The dialogue DN wants to have in an inclusive one.”

DN’s statement mentions these borders, specifically raising questions about the legality of peyote in the U.S. and Mexico.

“Would that position [of the NAC] place visiting shamans from the Wixárika tribe in Mexico in legal jeopardy if they were to come to the U.S. to participate in educational and spiritual north-south inter-tribal exchanges, where they may lead or attend non-church ceremonies?” it asks. “And would non-Indigenous attendees of these observances be subject to arrest by the DEA? Decriminalization of peyotl would resolve these incongruities.” Lucid News reached out to the NAC for comment on whether this had happened to Indigenous peyotists who were not U.S. citizens, and Davis pointed us back to DN for further clarification. DN leadership did not provide any additional details or specifics.

The IPCI’s “big prayer”

For the authors of the NCNAC statement, peyote isn’t ready for the attention of all humanity yet. Davis notes “the IPCI has already experienced and witnessed an increase in poachers.” Bia Labate, founder of Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, agrees that decriminalization can’t happen “without a seat at the table for Native Americans, and without having a plan about conservation and dialogue with conservationists. Pure decriminalization would be dangerous for peyote as a species, and problematic in terms of public policy.”

Davis’s research centers on how much land is available for peyote cultivation and habitat. “At this point, because peyote is in such a decline, peyotists like myself need to be educated on what is happening in South Texas in regards to peyote,” she says. “There are many threats that impact peyote populations – wind turbine development, overharvesting, oil development, exurban development, and issues with poaching. Peyote is in severe decline, particularly within the United States, and I want that message to be taken home and understood. It’s on the brink of extinction.”

“We don’t want to get to that place where Indigenous people are given 100 buttons of peyote this year and if they’re lucky 150 the next year,” adds Moore. “We don’t want to be rationing medicine. These people’s lives are completely integrated into and with peyote, and it’s unimaginable to think it would get to that point.”

The discussion also raises larger questions surrounding Indigenous plant medicines and their use by non-native peoples.

“People have been sympathetic,” says Davis, “We’ve received comments and feedback from people wanting to support, and we have yet to see what that is going to look like. We are definitely open to any support. But it should come with action.”

The group sees parallels with the Black Lives Matter movement. “Black people are no longer willing to just hear they have allies,” says Davis. “They want to see action and see people continue to support Black businesses, Black scholarships, and issues important to Black people.” Davis, who is co-editor for the Journal of Native Sciences, adds a sobering statistic: Native Americans are likelier to be killed by police than Black people, and 18 times as likely to be killed as white people. “Native American people also receive less support in regards to healthcare than people who are incarcerated,” she explains. “As Native American people, we want to see action too.” The community is looking for tangible evidence behind verbal assurances, including in the form of funding for initiatives like the IPCI.

Iron Rope notes that they have found allies along the way. “There are a lot of good folks in Decrim,” he says. “This is a prayer and a connection to Mother Earth. The IPCI has started empowering us to formalize what conservation means for us – to regenerate and reconnect. The IPCI has developed from that, and it’s a big prayer that is continuing to evolve in light of peyote conservation.”

Moore says he has found some positives through the debate with DN as it has received more attention. “I’m happy this issue exploded on us,” says Moore. “We’ve been hunkered down with the IPCI project in Texas. I know it’s been overwhelming, but we’re a small fledgling organization trying to stand itself up. It was overwhelming to take on the Decrim movement and try to shape and direct this conversation, but it’s having a powerful impact.”

For Volat, the final outcome remains to be seen. “I don’t know what the psychedelic movement is really supposed to do on a societal level, but I think this issue is key to that,” she says. “If this movement bypasses the opportunity not to use tried and true, destructive, colonial, extractive ways of conducting itself, it’ll just be the same old thing, wreaking havoc on people and the earth.”

Iron Rope agrees. “I heard someone from the Decrim movement say ‘God created the earth and all mankind, and all medicines for everybody,’” he says. “It has some amount of truth to it, but in every geographic area of Mother Earth, there are Indigenous people that are the caretakers of these plants. You can’t jump over that, go over it, or go around it and say you’re doing it out of respect and love.”

“We – the voices you’re hearing today – are the tip of the spear” adds Moore. “There are tens of thousands of Native Americans we’re trying to bring voice to through this project. Many don’t have access to the internet or even running water and prefer life that way, but they don’t even understand what the full impact of the Decrim movement could be if it were completely unleashed in their world. So we are trying to act as a buffer, or a breaking mechanism.”

Volat says DN’s insertion of itself into the conversation around peyote can be disruptive to Indgenous communities, which already have internal education plans and initiatives in place surrounding peyote’s future.

“It causes fear and division,” Volat says. “It’s ok to be sensitive to that, and say, ‘Ok, I’ll back off here.’”

For Iron Rope, Indigenous peyote conservation has “its own flow. And society is so fast, and Decrim is so fast, saying ‘We gotta do this and that.’ But this prayer is flowing in itself. Nature has a rhythm and tone, and we have to resonate with that vibration, that rhythm and tone, when we spiritually harvest medicine. There is a prayer, a song, a vibration. When you back up and slow down, you resonate with it.”

Watch the video: Peyote Proper Harvesting

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