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Native American Church

NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH

NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH. The Native American Church, a development that evolved out of the Peyote Cult, is a religion combining some Christian elements with others of Indian derivation. It features as a sacrament the ingestion of the peyote cactus, which may induce multicolored hallucinations. Christian elements include the cross, the Trinity, baptism, and some Christian theology and eschatology. The peyote rite is an all-night ceremonial, usually held in a Plains-type tipi.


Prominent rituals include singing, prayers, testimonials, and the taking of peyote. First incorporated in Oklahoma in 1918, the Native American Church has become the principal religion of a majority of the Indians living between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and it is also important among the Navajo in the Great Basin, in east-central California, and in southern Canada.

Peyotism's legal standing met a serious challenge in 1990, when the U.S. Supreme Court decreed, in Employment Division v. Smith (1990), that the free exercise clause of the First Amendment did not exempt Indians from criminal prosecution for the use of peyote in states where its use was outlawed as a controlled substance. The decision placed minority religions in jeopardy. In response Oregon passed a 1991 law permitting the sacramental use of peyote by American Indians in the state, and Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, which required the government to demonstrate a compelling state interest to justify any measure restricting religious practices.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

LaBarre, Weston. The Peyote Cult. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

Slotkin, James Sydney. The Peyote Religion: A Study in Indian-White Relations. New York: Octagon Books, 1975.

Stewart, Omer C. Peyote Religion. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

Vecsey, Christopher, ed. Handbook of American Indian Religious Freedom. New York: Crossroad, 1991.

ChristopherVecsey

Kenneth M.Stewart/j. h.

See alsoBill of Rights ; Indian Policy, U.S.: 1900–2000 ; Indian Religious Life ; Religious Liberty .

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Native American Church

Native American Church, Native American religious group whose beliefs blend fundamentalist Christian elements with pan–Native American moral principles. The movement began among the Kiowa about 1890 and, led by John Wilson (Big Moon), soon spread to other tribes. The sacramental food of the group was peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus, and the members came to be known as peyotists. In 1918, peyotists from a number of tribes incorporated their movement as the Native American Church. In 1940 the church was declared illegal by the Navajo Tribal Council, which saw it as a threat to Navajo culture and to Christianized Navajos. The church flourished underground, however, until 1967, when the tribe reversed its decision. By 1996, the church had 250,000 members in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

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"Native American Church." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Native American Church." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/native-american-church

"Native American Church." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/native-american-church