From earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by Indigenous peoples, such as the Wixaritari (Huichol), Yaqui, Cora, Raramuri (Tarahumara) and others in what is now called Mexico. There is archeological evidence of the religious use of Peyote in what is now the U.S. dating back 5,000 years. More recently, with the introduction of the horse and railroad to the Americas, the ritual use of this cactus spread to central parts of the United States in the 1800s. This sharing occurred in the context of the brutal and systematic suppression of native culture, spirituality, and ways of life.
During the peak of cultural devastation and genocide of Native peoples in the U.S., Peyote traveled north along trade routes and became adopted widely in spiritual ceremony, serving to fortify Indigenous identity, spiritual connection, and provide healing from ongoing colonial trauma. Families from many tribes pilgrimaged to the peyote gardens in south Texas, sometimes taking several weeks, making offerings and harvesting medicine to bring back to their communities.
A successful strategy for addressing the peyote crisis and supporting cultural regeneration must include the leadership by Native American Church and the Wixarika (Huichol Tribal Leadership). This leadership must be supported and joined by the legal, financial, and technical expertise and resources of organizations who understand the complexity of Peyote Conservation and are willing to maintain a deep respect for the interweaving of native religion, culture, and present-day issues. To this end, project design and management will be conducted using a collaborative and inclusive process.
add links to NACNA history and Wira letter of support