Native American Church

The NAC – Native American Church is a Peyote religion. In this LA Yoga Magazine story on NAC Roadman Kenny Little Fish articulates the indigenous American church’s philosophy and practices. He also says, “I need the government to step up and say we apologize for the oppression and the continued oppression that we’re putting on you…

  • What: NAC is a religious denomination that practices Peyotism or the Peyote religion.  NAC originated in Oklahoma, and is the most widespread indigenous religion among Native Americans.  Peyotism involves the use of the entheogen peyote, a spineless cactus. Peyote was used in the territory of modern Mexico in pre-Columbian times both as a way to commune with the spirit world and also as a medicine. From the mid-15th century, the use of peyote spread to the Great Plains area of the United States primarily through the efforts of the Apache people. Peyotism is now practiced in more than 50 Indian tribes and has approximately 250,000 adherents.
  • Treatment: Correlated with its use as a religious sacrament and its presumed value as a medicine, Peyote renders all other medicines superfluous. The roadman (or shaman) may be asked to treat a patient. This procedure varies in form. The curing ritual is almost always simple, consisting of praying and frequent use of the sign of the cross.  Native Americans consider peyote sacred, a divine “messenger” that enables the individual to communicate with God without the medium of a priest.  For many peyotists, it is an earthly representative of God.

Ceremony: The ceremony is led by a roadman, takes place after dark and continues through sunrise.  The ceremony takes place in a tepee (which represents a mother’s womb) where an alter is constructed in the shape of a crescent moon. The shape represents the “road of life.”  The ceremony begins with smoking tobacco, after which, peyote or “medicine,” is passed around. Participants sing prayers to the accompaniment of a gourd rattle and a small water drum. Water is brought in twice during the night. Vomiting signals cleansing and purification. Members have visions and profound insights.

The Roadman: Native American ceremonialist who “carries the alter” from a specific linage or teaching and set of rules.  The roadman is in charge of leading the songs, initiating the prayers, and holding the space.  He does delegate some responsibility such as fire keeper and doorkeeper.

Participants: At the beginning of each ceremony, participants ingest peyote or “medicine,” and over the course of the night may experience purging, consciousness expansion, healing, purification, detoxification, and profound realizations.

Origin: Quanah Parker is credited as the founder of the Native American Church Movement, which started in the 1890s, and was formally incorporated in 1918. Parker adopted the peyote religion after reportedly seeing a vision of Jesus Christ while suffering from a near fatal wound following a battle with U.S. Federal Troops. Peyote is reported to contain hordenine and tyramine, phenylethylamine alkaloids that act as potent natural antibiotics when taken in a combined form. Parker was given peyote by the Carrizo Coahuiltecan Indians in South Texas. The Carrizo Coahuiltecan Indians healed him and showed him the proper way to run peyote ceremonies.

In return, Parker taught that the Sacred Peyote Medicine was the Sacrament given to all peoples by the Creator, and was to be used with water when taking communion in some Native American Church medicine ceremonies.  Parker created the “half-moon” style of the peyote ceremony. The “cross fire ceremony” (originally called the “Blue Moon” ceremony) later evolved in Oklahoma (initially among the Kiowa) and is due to influences introduced by John Moon-Head Wilson, a Caddo Indian who traveled extensively with Parker during the early days of the Native American Church movement. The Native American Church was the first truly “American” religion based on Christianity outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Chief Quanah Parker of the Kwahadi Comanche

What: NAC is a religious denomination that practices Peyotism or the Peyote religion.  NAC originated in Oklahoma, and is the most widespread indigenous religion among Native Americans.  Peyotism involves the use of the entheogen peyote, a spineless cactus. Peyote was used in the territory of modern Mexico in pre-Columbian times both as a way to commune with the spirit world and also as a medicine. From the mid-15th century, the use of peyote spread to the Great Plains area of the United States primarily through the efforts of the Apache people. Peyotism is now practiced in more than 50 Indian tribes and has approximately 250,000 adherents.

Treatment: Correlated with its use as a religious sacrament and its presumed value as a medicine, Peyote renders all other medicines superfluous. The roadman (or shaman) may be asked to treat a patient. This procedure varies in form. The curing ritual is almost always simple, consisting of praying and frequent use of the sign of the cross.  Native Americans consider peyote sacred, a divine “messenger” that enables the individual to communicate with God without the medium of a priest.  For many peyotists, it is an earthly representative of God.

Ceremony: The ceremony is led by a roadman, takes place after dark and continues through sunrise.  The ceremony takes place in a tepee (which represents a mother’s womb) where an alter is constructed in the shape of a crescent moon. The shape represents the “road of life.”  The ceremony begins with smoking tobacco, after which, peyote or “medicine,” is passed around. Participants sing prayers to the accompaniment of a gourd rattle and a small water drum. Water is brought in twice during the night. Vomiting signals cleansing and purification. Members have visions and profound insights.

The Roadman: Native American ceremonialist who “carries the alter” from a specific linage or teaching and set of rules.  The roadman is in charge of leading the songs, initiating the prayers, and holding the space.  He does delegate some responsibility such as fire keeper and doorkeeper.

Participants: At the beginning of each ceremony, participants ingest peyote or “medicine,” and over the course of the night may experience purging, consciousness expansion, healing, purification, detoxification, and profound realizations.

Origin: Quanah Parker is credited as the founder of the Native American Church Movement, which started in the 1890s, and was formally incorporated in 1918. Parker adopted the peyote religion after reportedly seeing a vision of Jesus Christ while suffering from a near fatal wound following a battle with U.S. Federal Troops. Peyote is reported to contain hordenine and tyramine, phenylethylamine alkaloids that act as potent natural antibiotics when taken in a combined form. Parker was given peyote by the Carrizo Coahuiltecan Indians in South Texas. The Carrizo Coahuiltecan Indians healed him and showed him the proper way to run peyote ceremonies.

Peyote RoadIn return, Parker taught that the Sacred Peyote Medicine was the Sacrament given to all peoples by the Creator, and was to be used with water when taking communion in some Native American Church medicine ceremonies.  Parker created the “half-moon” style of the peyote ceremony. The “cross fire ceremony” (originally called the “Blue Moon” ceremony) later evolved in Oklahoma (initially among the Kiowa) and is due to influences introduced by John Moon-Head Wilson, a Caddo Indian who traveled extensively with Parker during the early days of the Native American Church movement. The Native American Church was the first truly “American” religion based on Christianity outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2 Responses to Native American Church
  1. Bob from Indian Women Clothes
    September 29, 2010 | 8:54 am

    I totally agree that Peyote renders all other medicines superfluous. Although I haven’t had the fortune of experiencing this, it’s easily understood why. When we cleanse the doors of perception, we begin to see things as they truly are.

  2. susanna spottedcorn
    January 8, 2011 | 10:27 am

    MEXICANS ARE NATIVE AMERICAN THAT IS WHERE SACRED PEYOTE COMES FROM ALL OF OUR VEGETABLES AND FRUITS COME FROM MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA THIS BROWN NATIVE NORTHERN INDIGINOUS CONTINENT BELONGS TO THE CENTRAL AMERICANS AND MEXICANS NATIVES WE CONTINUE TO BE OPPRESSED BY THE EVIL INTRUDER IMMIGRATION LAW SUPPORTERS DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH DAMAGE THEY ARE DOING BY RUINING THE BALANCE AND HARMONY OF NATURE WE MIGRATED THIS CONTINENT FREELY BACK IN FORTH ACCORDING TO THE WEATHER AND SEASON CHANGES THE WHITE MAN HAS DESYTROYED OUR WILDLIFE FORCED US TO SPEAK ENGLISH AND SPANISH OUR MAYAN CALANDER PREDICTED THE WHITE MAN WOULD BRING ONLY DEATH..I AM A PIPIL NAHUAT NATIVE OF THIS CONTINENT WHITE MAN CAME FROM A WETBACK SHIP WHITE MAN IS RELATED TO HITLER AND CHRIS COLUMBUS BUT GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF KARMA.
    WHITE MAN CREATED NATIONAL PARKS TO KICK OUT THE NATIVES KILLED AND RAPED THEIR FAMALIES STUCK THEIR HOME INSIDE MUSEUMS AND MAKE A MOCKERY OF US BROWN NATIVES THEY ARE THE ONES WHO INTERRUPTED OUR PARADISE WITHOUT THEM NOW THEY LEAVE US WITH NO BUFFALO NO CLEAN WATER THEY POISNED WITH BLOOD THIRSTY WAR SUPPORTING VIOLENCE AND OIL IS NOW IN OUR WATERS GANGS AND VIOLONCE WAS INVENTED TO DEFEND OURSLEFVES FROM THEM BEFORE WHITE MAN CAME WE ONLY HAD TRIBAL DIFFERENCES NOT GANGS NOW WHITE MAN HAS OPPRESSED AND WORSHIPED SATAN MAKING BROUGHT NATIVES SMALL POX AND PLAGUES BROUGHT NATIVES DRUGS AND ALCHOL FROM EUROPE POISING THEM AND STICKING THEM IN RESERVATIONS TORTURING THEM AND DISFIRURING US
    AND CONTIUE TO DO SO WITH YOUR PATHETIC HISTORICALLY ILLERATE IMMIGRATION LAW