Conservation And Sustainability

Within the past 150 years, mankind has brought massive destruction and pollution to our Earth. One of the most tragic consequences are the dozens of species that go extinct everyday. Of the many threatened species is a very unassuming cactus that resides among the desert brush of South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lophophora williamsii, or more commonly known as peyote, barely grows above ground. It has no thorns and from time to time will flower a beautiful yet simple pinkish blossom.

There are a number of stories describing how peyote first reached the people. There is the Huichol story of the blue deer, Kauyumari There is the story of the Peyote Woman. Of the different origin stories, one thing we can assume is that our ancestors understood the peyote to be medicine. For over five millennia the people utilized peyote to help with physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. By the 1880's the medicine, peyote, was making it onto Native American reservations.

In 1918 the Native American Church was incorporated as a religious organization in Oklahoma. Today there are approximately 250,000 enrolled tribal members of the Native American Church with charters ranging throughout Canada, United States, and Mexico. There are thousands more who are not enrolled tribal members but attend NAC (Native American Church) meetings with a sincere and devoted testament to the peyote's healing power as a sacrament. Peyote is now reaching across the globe and helping people of all backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. With the growth of the NAC, we are witnessing a large group of our world society respecting and valuing this sacred cactus.

Educate. Organize. Protect.

Lophophora Williamsii is listed as vulnerable according to IUCN's Red List. Morning Star Conservancy is coordinating a strategic plan to defend the current populations of S. Texas through raising public awareness and habitat restoration.



I was very ill and I went to the Indian Hospital in New Mexico. The doctor could not find anything wrong with me, but I was very weak and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t even get out of bed. My daughter tried to get me to sit up but I could only sit for 10 minutes because I was so weak. Finally my adopted son came over and had an emergency peyote meeting for me, during Easter weekend. They brought me into the Hogan and I laid down on a blanket cause I was unable to sit. I slept through the night but I was fed a lot of Peyote through the night. Everybody prayed all night, sang songs, smoked tobacco and ate Peyote too. In the morning, I got up and looked around and went outside on my own and I was well and felt strong and like myself again. I have been doing good ever since that time.
— Betty Mike, Navajo Nation
From time immemorial, people of faith across the planet have turned to natural elements to heal and protect themselves and their families. Today we still use extracts of various plants and other compounds to stave illness, prolong life, and improve our mind and body. I stand, after 36 years of attending NAC tipi meetings, a proud testimonial to the Healing Power of the sacrament Peyote. From the time I was a young woman, I had believed, after being seen by many medical doctors, that I would never be able to conceive children. This took away one of the great wishes of my life. After this I sought both faith and solace, and found new foundation and hope in the Peyote way of worship. In 1984, in the Peyote Gardens of south Texas, prayers were said and medicine was fixed for my companion and I to be able to have children. Exactly one year later our first daughter was born. This caused me to dedicate my Life to expressing my gratitude through these ceremonies. I believe it is important to give back to the medicine for its blessings and favors; as the medicine has no voice of its own, nor arms and legs, there is always much to be done in service of the medicine and its home in the prayer lodges of more than one culture. My gratitude continued through the blessings of tribal elders who shared with us the Half Moon ceremony to take care of our family. My children were raised among Native American people on this road of life. My children are now adults, holding vows and ceremonies of their own, still in the company of Native American elders. I know I represent a population of families that has stayed close to the sacrament for very similar reasons and believe we owe our lives and health to this sacrament, Peyote.
— Shawnina M. Gomez, Greek and Italian descent