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2022 Azeé Bee Nahagha - Native American Church Summit raises concerns over peyote protections for Indigenous ceremonies and medicinal use

File image: peyote plant

At this year’s Azeé Bee Nahagha - Native American Church Summit, the Navajo Nation Council discussed ways to protect the use of peyote for tribal ceremonies and medicinal use as outlined by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994.

The Navajo-Hopi Observer reports Navajo leaders raised concerns about the potential for the plant to be used recreationally by non-Indigenous people. Peyote is a sacred plant to many tribes and has been used for centuries as part of religious, cultural and medicinal ceremonies.

As some states, including California, consider legalizing or decriminalizing psychedelic drugs and plants, Navajo Nation leaders say they’re concerned peyote will eventually be available for sale to the general public as is happening with cannabis.

In April 2022, a faction of the Native American Church that protects peyote for Indigenous peoples, approved a resolution recommending the Navajo Nation Council oppose peyote legalization, allowing it only to be used by federally enrolled tribal citizens during traditional ceremonies.