Poor harvesting practices, agriculture, cattle and related root plowing techniques, oil and gas development, an increase in the NAC membership and reliance on the Peyote way of life for family and community health, increased poaching, and non-Indian use of the Sacrament have all contributed to these serious declines. With little land available for the NAC and ABNDN members to harvest, prices set by the non-native Peyoteros (licensed Peyote dealers) have increased substantially, making access ever more difficult for rural and poor members.
Samples of improperly harvested peyotes acquired from a Peyotero.
Changes in U.S. and Texas law in the 1960s and 1970s also virtually removed the procurement process from tribal hands and have resulted in a complete loss of cultural control of the Sacrament. The old way of gathering Peyote, including making pilgrimage to the Peyote gardens and praying through the entire process of gathering for needed healing ceremonies, has effectively been lost. Just a few older people remember what this is like. It is the prayer of their grandparents that has led to new strategies for ensuring medicine is available for our future generations.
The IPCI conservation effort exists to sustain the spiritual practices of Indigenous Peoples for generations to come; promoting health, well-being, and native cultural revitalization through sovereignty and sustainability of the Sacred Peyote plant and the lands on which it grows.
Peyote conservation requires an end to exclusive reliance on the current Peyotero harvest and sales system. Successful Peyote access requires a land-base for spiritual and ecological harvest managed by Indigenous conservationists. This strategy for sustainable supply and demand needs to support ongoing efforts for preservation and re-planting, including a regional network of supportive relationships with Ranchers, Indigenous land ownership, leases, nurseries, and a full circle of planting that regenerates the medicine in its native habitat. IPCI is coordinating leases with Ranchers for direct access to a supply that is harvested in spiritually, ecologically and culturally sensitive ways. This will allow for NAC and ABNDN families and Chapters to organize their own pilgrimages and access medicine they know was harvested with prayer and care. They will also be able to engage in giving back to the gardens through their own families participating in replanting the gardens for a future where this sacred land is in balance again.
You can make a difference in the health of our gardens and the future of our way of life by utilizing and procuring medicine that was harvested in a clean, spiritual way. It is a big challenge to make this available and ensure this, but together we can. IPCI’s role is to make the land available to NAC and ABNDN members and to manage the replanting on that land.