Peyote Religion and the Native American Church
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Time Period
1885  - 1918
Peyote, a small cactus that grows wild in the Southwest, creates psychedelic effects similar to LSD when dried and ingested. It is believed that its usage spread to the Mescalero Apaches in spirit ceremonies in the mid-1880s, and then became diffused among other tribes.

In the late nineteenth century, the Native American Church grew out of a loose network of peyote-using Christian groups, claiming that it uses peyote as a sacrament during services "to open portals to Reality" and help provide "the road back to the true Self."

The church incorporated in 1918, after the Bureau of Indian Affairs tried to outlaw peyote. The 1978 passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act provided legal protection for ceremonial use of the drug.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History

Peyote ceremony musicians- Hathi Trust- from A Hand-Book of the Church's Mission to the Indians

Peyote ceremony, 1892- BAE GN 01456d 06275400, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Peyote set, from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Dschwen (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Peyote Cactus- US Fish and Wildlife Service photo
Book/Journal Source(s)
Melton, J. Gordon, 2009. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, Eighth Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
Jenkins, Philip , 2004. Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Web Source(s)
Native American Church
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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