Tag Archive: Native American Church

Kenny Littlefish

Eric, I met Kenny Littlefish a few years ago. He’s a roadman in the Native American Church. After I interviewed him he told me about his motivation for letting me sit up with them in their ceremony. The need for the American government to finally come correct about the genocide. This guy… Kenny Littlefish is amazing. Check out the story I did for LA Yoga Magazine:

Kenny Little Fish

RED ROOTS OF NATIVE YOGA


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.