Peyote Shortage Strikes Native American Church
Leaders in the Native American Church of North America are warning that the shortage of peyote, a sacrament used in worship, is reaching critical levels (Author unlisted, "For Indian Church, a Critical Shortage," New York Times, Mar. 20, 1995, p. A10).
Members of the church say they are seeking new methods of obtaining the cactus plant, including alternative cultivation methods and importation from Mexico.
Peyote grows wild in one area of southern Texas, but changing agricultural patterns are wiping out that supply. Farmers have been taking over the land where peyote was growing and using the land for pasture. The shortage has been made worse by increases in church membership.
Texas law allows Native Americans to harvest the plant and distribute it to licensed dealers. Under Public Law 103-344, amendments to the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act," Native Americans can possess, transport, and use peyote as a part of traditional religious ceremonies (see "Peyote Bill Signed," NewsBriefs, Nov. 1994). While peyote use is legal for Native Americans, cultivation remains illegal.