Peyote and the Racialized War on Drugs

In an article  published in the Christian Century blog (here), Lisa Barnett, Ordained Minister (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ) and PhD candidate in U.S. history at Texas Christian University, discusses some of her dissertation research which looks at the ritual use of peyote by the Native American Church. Of special interest to borderlands scholars, Barnett’s research addresses how in the late nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries, a commercialized peyote trade developed along the U.S.-Mexican border connecting merchants in the borderlands region of the Rio Grande to a variety of Indian tribes residing in Oklahoma and Indian Territories. In this article she examines how peyote became criminalized because of its perceived threat to Christianizing Native Americans.

newspaper-headline-nyt-1923  

                                     New York Times, 1923

Barnett writes:

“The mild hallucinogen, derived from the top of a cactus growing in the Rio Grande area, became the basis of a new American Indian religion in the late 19th century. As the peyote religion quickly spread throughout Oklahoma Territory to other tribes in the western half of the U.S., white missionaries and government officials became alarmed. In their zero-sum mindset, they viewed Peyotism as a threat to their efforts to Christianize the Native American peoples.”

Read this fascinating article at the Christian Century blog, linked here.

Advertisements
Categories: Essay Series | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: