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Historic repatriation of Peyote back to south Texas

IPCI made a movement forward for regeneration of the Medicine’s native home. Over 4,000 Peyote plants from a greenhouse in Canada came back to the Peyote gardens in south Texas. This donation of Peyote came from a private individual who wanted to contribute to IPCI's mission of biocultural conservation.

Photos were taken in June 2022, Peyote plants being prepared in Canada before making their journey back to the Peyote Gardens. BOD member, Arlen Lightfoot brought with him a Native American Church incorporation letter from the State of Oklahoma for this historic occasion.

These Peyotes are the beginning of the next movement for Peyote conservation in south Texas. Arlen Lightfoot, enrolled Otoe-Missouri, IPCI Board of Directors (BOD), traveled with Geraldine Iron Rope (Diné) and Miriam Volat (IPCI Executive Director) to pick up the Peyotes in Canada. Mr. Lightfoot conducted a blessing for the Peyotes before they made their journey back home to the Peyote gardens in south Texas.

Why was this important?

“We all like to go home to our relatives. That's where we like to go, home is home. With this medicine when we talk about IPCI, what we did was help this medicine go home where it belongs to their people and relatives. Helping them by bringing them out of a type of captivity it was in for so long” (Steven Benally, IPCI BOD member).

“It is one thing to pray about something, then it is another thing to see your prayer in motion.” (Sandor Iron Rope, IPCI BOD member)

The repatriation process required IPCI to apply for a DEA permit to legally transport the Peyotes across the border into the U.S. Each step in this process was undertaken with the support of government officials and for the sole purpose of the conservation of Peyote.

A DEA permit was necessary because Federal Law has Peyote as a schedule I controlled substance. However, for many Native Americans and Native American Church members, Peyote is respected and treated as a medicine. Native Americans and NAC members are protected under Federal Law to utilize Peyote for spiritual and religious purposes. With a permit from the DEA, IPCI was authorized to conduct this one-time transportation of Peyote to IPCI's nursery in South Texas. In the Nursery, the IPCI has designed a nursery space that meets the DEA requirements and regulations.

Photos were taken in June 2022. This photo is of IPCI's legal advisor Steve Moore, a Customs Agent on the Detroit/Canada border, and IPCI BOD Arlen Lightfoot.

The photo was taken in June 2022. The Peyote medicine arrived inside the IPCI's nursery area.

According to the grower in Canada, the Peyote was grown by seeds taken from south Texas several decades ago, many of them via Germany. Since this time, the Peyote plant has been facing a severe decline in its population due to many things like land clearing, energy business, over-harvesting, high demand, and improper harvesting techniques. The repatriation of 4000 plants is an exciting step toward the IPCI's conservation goal of reaching 2 million Peyotes being transplanted into the natural habitat to strengthen populations for the future.

At this time of crisis for the gardens, these repatriated Medicines were very happily welcomed into the Nursery on the IPCI Spiritual Homesite. IPCI has several acres of land dedicated as a nursery space that includes a germination chamber made of adobe from the soil of the local land and many of the nurse plants that the Medicine enjoys living under for shade and nutrients. The new arrivals were transplanted into a shaded area to assist them in their acclimation process to the hot Texas summer heat.

What is next for IPCI after this historical movement to repatriate Peyote back to the Peyote gardens?

IPCI embarked on repatriating Peyote back to its natural habitat, something that has never been done before. IPCI will continue to welcome special donations of Peyote, on a case-by-case basis, to be returned to its natural habitat for conservation purposes only. IPCI also accepts donations of Peyote cleanings and seeds that can be returned to the natural habitat in south Texas. For more information, click on this link and complete a seed return form. (Seed Return Form)

Note: Native American Church or ABNDN chapters that would like to develop their own growing facilities can ask for information on technical and financial support at


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