April 23, 2022/Photo by Lucy Benally
Azee Bee Nahagha of Dine Nation (ABNDN) members attending an informational presentation regarding the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI).
Since the 1980’s, the Azee Bee Nahagha of Dine Nation (ABNDN) has made an annual pilgrimage to the Peyote gardens in south Texas at the “Shi’keyah” (meaning “Our land” or “My land” in the Dine language) spiritual land base. In the last four years, ABNDN has worked alongside the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) to plan children’s harvests and other projects on the IPCI 605 acre spiritual homesite. This year ABNDN members visited IPCI, and toured its recently completed projects including the spiritual homesite, bathhouses, camp sites, and nursery/germination chamber.
Along with the tours, members made offerings in a designated spiritual offering site, a private area where the Peyote medicine grows in its natural habitat. IPCI offers these accommodations along with spaces designated for ceremonial use such as tipi meetings and/or sweat lodges. In the past, IPCI has supported ABNDN in securing access by nearby ranch owners for the purpose of sustainably harvesting Peyote medicine at no cost.
IPCI staff and board members facilitated a presentation about its future conservation and organizational goals. IPCI included information regarding their position on the Decriminalization movement, and clarified this stance regarding the associated challenges involving Peyote in the decriminalization of plant based medicines in the US. Some of these challenges include poaching/trespassing, improper harvesting practices, overharvesting, increased interest to obtain peyote for non-ceremonial or recreational use, and disruption of relationships with nearby ranchers.
IPCI will be looking to secure land for the Spring of 2023 to conduct a children’s harvest open to ABNDN and NAC members. During this week many people made their pilgrimage, some for the first time, and were able to have access to the IPCI 605 acre spiritual homesite to make spiritual offerings. A lot of tears were shed this year for people who were facing difficult times, but having a safe place to come pray allowed for many people to find some hope in such turbulent times.