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Written by Weston La Barre   
Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00


A descriptive account of a ritual pattern, however meticulously detailed it be, must always fall short of reality unless supplemented by further information regarding its func-tioning in terms of individuals. The older descriptive ethnography and the newer interest in the dynamics of culture are as necessary to each other as anatomy and physiology, of which, indeed, they are the anthropological parallels. We accordingly embark upon the somewhat anecdotal filling in of the pattern sketched in the preceding section.

Every student of peyote has been met with a sometimes odd mixture of suspiciousness and candor, an ambivalence in attitude derived primarily from the native attitudes toward peyotism itself. Most of the younger adherents of the cult have had White schooling of a sort, but though the express intent of this schooling has been the deculturation of the Indian, on returning to their tribes old loyalties are characteristically reestablished and old ways of thinking fallen into; the total effect of Christian teaching on peyotism, therefore, has not been particularly profound.

But all peyote adherents are aware of the efforts, both religious and secular, to suppress the movement, and most of them are familiar with the arguments advanced against peyote as an allegedly harmful drug. They have commonly met this with the counter-propaganda that peyote is a specific cure for alcoholism, but nevertheless this attitude on the part of bearers of the powerful and prestige-full White culture has not left them unimpressed, and there is a consequent lack of psychological security in their belief and practice of peyotism. Though the cult is a compromise solution between Christianity and older native religions, there is still a large number of persons whose attitude toward peyote is thoroughly pre-carious—as evidenced by the vacillations, defections and rationalizations we are about to list.

Save for the Caddo (and there are perhaps historical reasons for this) ordinary sin-cerity and interest are met by the Plains practitioners with corresponding candor and friend-liness toward the ethnographer. There is no very great difficulty in a sympathetic White man's attending a peyote meeting nowadays. Indeed, some groups, out of naïve faith in the plant's power, seem even to invite attendance in the hope of producing a propagandist for the cult to counteract the unfriendliness which they feel, and not unrightly, has arisen from ignorance and prejudice. An instance of this good faith and even naïveté occurs in an Osage petition to Congress that in the event of a law being passed to regulate the use of peyote, an exception be made for the "Indian lodges using it as a sacrament," and they promised to use it only under the supervision of reservation superintendents!' And a sincerity not open to doubt was evidenced by a Cheyenne, one time president of the Native American Church, who sent zoo peyote buttons on his own initiative through his agency-superintendent to a chemist at Stanford University, requesting a thorough and disinterested scientific analysis, and offering his further services if necessary.2

Another factor making for insecurity of belief and practice has been the intense opposition on the part of some leaders of older cults in the tribe itself. We will recur to this subject in discussing the history of peyote in specific groups, but cite here the rather accentuated example of hostility at Taos.3 Dr. Parsons tells of a lawsuit between a "peyote boy" and one of the Mexican Penitentes which was resolved by both paying the costs, to prevent the betrayal of native customs. Thereafter the chiefs said:

[Peyote] does not belong to us. It is not the work given to us. It will stop the rain. Something will happen.

But as desire for rain is the typical anxiety reflected in native ritual in the agricultural Southwest, the peyote boys retorted in the same vein. In the drought of 1922 they said:

"Now it is so dry this summer because the peyote boys can't have their meetings ; they used to bring so much rain." [Indeed, nowadays,] the townspeople are given to referring all their inclina-tion to feud to the peyote situation.

But there is ample evidence that this tendency existed before peyote ever came to Taos. On the other hand, the wife of one peyote-user asserted that there was no more "witch sickness" in the town because of the peyote people, who were able to exorcize witches; nevertheless, one man attributed his trachoma to witching by "foreigners" in peyote meetings.

Such intense seriousness is in marked contrast to the situation in some Plains tribes, where peyote jokes are told at times in the forenoons after meetings, when sufficient rap-port has been established. A Comanche story tells of a leader who took his expensive watch into a meeting and laid it on the altar cloth near the father peyote to "show off." A man shaking the gourd vigorously on the north side was making motions toward the father peyote, and miraculously the watch became broken up; "it was just a mess of works there loose, and the hands dropped off." The informant was highly amused at this story. An Oto told the tale of a man whose jaw became stiff as he was singing, a contretemps which upset the whole meeting. Though this effect was apparently due to peyote, the story was greeted with much laughter. People laugh at the incorrect singing of peyote songs too. We have already mentioned the one involving the alarming proximity of the Messiah just across the river in Missouri. Another story is told of a visiting Kiowa who attempted to sing a Comanche song in meeting. He mispronounced the words and sang, "Mentula ex, posita est! Mentula exposita est!" All the auditors of this story laughed at this further proof that the Comanche have "no shame."

The attitudes surrounding the plant itself are interesting. Perhaps the Tarahumari4 attitudes are most accentuated:

Those who have never eaten peyote fear it most. Should they touch the plant, they believe they would go crazy or die. Those who have once eaten it at a fiesta need have no fear of it, providing they treat it properly.

At Tarahumari feasts of the dead peyote protects the living from the ghost of the deceased, quite as eating it prevents bears from attacking the hunter or deer from running away from him; it confers invulnerability from the Apaches and warns of their approach, and likewise foils the machinations of sorcerers and robbers. In short, "hikuli is a powerful pro-tector of its people under all circumstances."

The Lipan well represent the attitude of early users in the United States:

If a fellow is not scared, is not afraid of it, he will surely have a good time. A fellow who is afraid of it just gets dizzy and frightened. He sees things that frighten him. What he sees is not true, but is just playing a joke on him . . . . When a fellow is honest and good natured it is easy for him. But when a fellow is rough and ill tempered he will have a hard time learning from peyote. It will scare him and make it hard for him ... . The chief peyote is pretty tough. It watches what is going on. It keeps everything straight. It is a plant, but it can see and understand better than a man. If someone has wrong thoughts, he had better look out or he will go crazy. . . .

When they first start eating peyote they put their thoughts on something good, something they want, for they say that whatever you are thinking about when you start is what you will see all during the night in your vision ... . Sometimes a man sees a vision and it scares him and he goes out running. But he is all right the next day. The thing that frightened him won't happen unless he thinks about it all the time and it frightens him continually. Then he begins to be afraid of it and thinks it will happen. But if he holds it off—holds off the bad thoughts that frighten him—nothing will occur .... Sometimes it makes you dream something pleasant, sometimes it makes you dream something dangerous . In the morning, just after the meeting is over, you can tell others what you saw.

Hoebel writes that

the trickiness of peyote is emphasized by the Cheyenne. They constantly reiterate that a man must keep hold of himself and also that he must live straight or peyote will shame him.

A Delaware rationalized the unpredictable effect of peyote somewhat differently :5

I had the feeling once that it was going to make me foolish, but that happens to everybody, and is a test of one's faith in peyote.

Vomiting of peyote is a punishment for one's sins, but it cleanses the body of its impurities in the process and purifies the blood. Part of the symbolism in the bead-work on an Arapaho fetish-pouch is the "vomitings" deposited in a ring around the inside of the tipi.5

It would be naive to suppose that peyote tastes any less unpleasant to natives than it does to Whites. But we should remember that peyote is eaten by Indians influenced by strong motives and deep belief, and the consequent physiological state is easily and ade-quately rationalized. It is not surprising that a man addicted to alcohol and shamed by it before both Indians and Whites believes that "whiskey and peyote fight in a man, and usually peyote wins and brings it out." No doubt such a cure ad nauseam is as good as any, and more effective than some. The depressing effect of peyote is also well recognized and measures are taken to overcome it. The Arapaho have feathers at four corners of the tipi to brush persons who tire during the meeting, and the "smoke" at Taos is made to overcome the depression of the early stages of eating, as sage is similarly used in the Plains.'

But suffering is counted even a positive virtue among people who had the "vision quest" in the old days. A crippled Indian at Miami told me that "to get power from peyote a man must suffer to it." The four rounds of the drum without water among the Caddo sug-gests an intention of making the meeting an ordeal, and Mrs. Voegelin's Shawnee informant emphasized that the Spybuck moon modelled on the Caddo was "hard." Most informants would consider the Osage, who have "beds" in their meeting-houses sometimes, not merely ostentatious but also "soft"; one old man said that sage under the blankets of the seat as a cushion indicated a decadent generation, for did not they sit on the bare ground in the old days? A Kickapoo informant said Quanah Parker used to warn them that the taste of peyote wasn't good, though "it would keep you on the right path." About 2:ro in the morning a Comanche informant of Simmons said :

If there is suffering, this is the time. That's the reason I took a good rest: so I could stand it. Many a time I have fallen over at this time. It's getting on to what they call the dark hour, the hour of the Crucifixion. Everyone here is suffering now.

The Winnebago elaborated into a dogma the physiological effect of peyote in producing occasional vomiting :

If a person who is truly repentant eats peyote for the first time, he does not suffer at all from its effects. But if an individual is bull-headed, does not believe in its virtue, he is likely to suffer a great deal .. . . If a person eats peyote and does not repent openly, he has a guilty conscience, which leaves him as soon as the public repentance has been made . . . . If a peyote-user relapses into his old way of living, then the peyote causes him great suffering . ... The disagreeable effects of the peyote varied directly with a man's disbelief in it. This explanation [Rave] persistently drummed into the ears of beginners, who otherwise become terrified and give up too soon.

We have already noted the Huichol-Tarahumari belief that peyote sees and punishes evil deeds. Similarly, when as an old man Kutubi (Comanche) became sick he gave his father peyote to Mumsika, reasoning that he had "probably eaten something peyote didn't allow'; this is probably the same father peyote which years before had predicted a bad fate for a war party. The leader had wept and strenuously upbraided peyote for this and may later have felt some guilt for his presumptuousness. In any case he held peyote responsible both times for his bad fortune.

But if peyote is blamed for bad fortune, it is also accredited with the liquidation of manifold anxieties. Fear of death is perhaps the most conspicuous anxiety in Plains culture. It is not surprising, therefore, that doctoring plays a major part in the cult. But the power and authority of peyote are relied upon in other ways too. In a number of tribes peyote or peyote tea is used whenever the individual finds himself confronted with any important personal problem. To be sure, it is the individual's total wishes which ultimately find expression in the course of action followed, but the consultation with peyote composes con-flicts and gives an authority to the decision which the "unaided" individual might not have been able to summon 9

The protective function of the father peyote is most highly patterned, perhaps, among the Mescalero Apache.i° In this culture the aggressions arising from the particular socio-economic system of marriage find expression in intense witchcraft activity. But for the typi-cal aggressions which a culture engenders, a culture often has a patterned solution to offer. For though the means used were magical, the aggressions and counter-aggressions were real in the psychological sense, and peyote had a real function in witch-prophylaxis. Shamanistic rivalry was most virulent and witchcraft-anxiety was correspondingly as intense as the projected hatreds. One never knew what dangerous and powerful supernatural possessions a hated rival possessed, hence a number of protective devices were developed in Mescalero peyotism.0 Yet characteristically in this uncomfortable culture, the power of peyote was itself dangerous, and elaborate care had to be exercised in removing the fuzz from the top of the buttons before eating. Should it touch the eyes, it would cause blindness!

In the Plains the fear is often expressed, not without justification, that the white man is ever about to take away the peyote religion from the Indian, as he has taken almost every-thing else material and immaterial. But the frequency of this asserveration, sometimes in contexts which the writer thought were unrealistic, indicates that Indians view peyote in a sense as a protector from the Whites. Peyote is rather confidently thought to be able to take care of itself—which accounts for the comparative ease with which a white man can obtain entrance to a meeting, where he will be exposed to "proof" of peyote's power. We need not emphasize this function of peyote beyond its true proportions, but it may be re-called that peyote enabled a native to escape from a white man's jail; that it aided peyote pilgrims to bring plants undeterred through the white man's customs; that it is the sovereign remedy for the evil of the white man's whiskey; that peyote has so far protected itself against the white man's attempted sumptuary legislation; that it miraculously escaped detection and confiscation in a white man's war, through which it protected its bearer; and, not least in psychological importance, that peyote characteristically succeeds (because it is of God, not man) in cures which the white doctor has long since given up as hopeless.

This function of peyote as protector is rooted in earlier history : it sees from afar the approach of the enemy, predicts the results of battle and protects one in battle from the hazards of war. Peyote would have prevented a gun accident, and an accident with a me-chanical saw, in instances collected, if the persons involved had only been able to under-stand its warning. And in another case, when a serious automobile accident had already happened, peyote quelled the anxiety of worrying relatives in assuring an ultimate cure. Again, Mary Buffalo, White Wolf s mother and Belo Kozad's wife had all lost many children, until they took their sons into peyote meetings and prayed to the power that they be spared; in each case the son grew to manhood. Peyote is the comforter in the event of death also; a funeral meeting is often held as the last rite of respect to the deceased, and some groups hold anniversary meetings for four years after the death.

But peyote punishes as well. An inconstant result of its physiological action is the production at times of an intense fear-state. Rave, for example, (Winnebago)12 in a period of mental stress experienced his fear:

Suddenly I saw a big snake. I was very much frightened. Then another one came crawling over me. "My God! Where are these snakes coming from?" There at my back there seemed to be some-thing also. So I looked around and saw a snake about ready to swallow me entirely. It had arms and legs and a long tail. The end of its tail was like a spear. "Oh God! I am surely going to die now," I thought. Then I turned in another direction and I saw a man with horns and long claws and with a spear in his hand. He jumped for me and I threw myself on the ground. He missed me. Then I looked back. This time he started back but it seemed to me that he was directing his spear at me. Again I threw myself on the ground and he missed me. There seemed to be no escape for me.

A similar experience of Crashing Thunder (Winnebago) is noted elsewhere; and in a story told of Bear Track (Cheyenne) and his Osage wife on their visit to the Holy Land, the parents seem to have communicated some of their anxiety and fear surrounding mysterious experiences there to their small daughter, who awoke screaming one night at a presence she saw in the room.

The peyote meeting of many groups has incorporated in it a powerful mechanism for the liquidation of individual anxieties in the practice of public confession of sins. It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of this feature» On the exhortation of the leader, many members rise and accuse themselves publicly of misdemeanors or offenses, asking pardon of persons who might have been injured by them. How large a part peyote has in the production of such states is an open question (for the pattern of public confession is wide-spread aboriginally in the New World); but that confession to the father-peyote and his authority, and repentance before the group is of profound significance cannot be doubted. More than ritual tears stream down the confessant's cheeks as he acknowledges his faults and asks aid to keep his promise to mend his ways.

Peyote often figures in matters of personal adjustment. The story of John Rave is too well known to require more than mention here. 'The somewhat similar history of Jonathan Koshiway (Oto) is likewise interesting in showing how a compromise was struck between the older pagan culture and Christianity, to whose influence this individual had been ex-posed. The personal solution in Koshiway's case seems to have been a perfectly satisfactory one: in the Church of the First-born he doctored and "hollered" like the source of his power in good old Indian fashion, and on the other hand baptized, conducted funerals and married couples just as in white churches. The statements of Crashing Thunder's fatherm indicate a somewhat less happy and inclusive solution, which involved the sacrifice of the old customs :

The peyote people are rather foolish for they cry when they feel happy about anything. They throw away all the medicines that they possess and whose virtues they know. They give up all the blessings they received while fasting, give up all the spirits who blessed them. They stop giving feasts and making offering of tobacco. They burn up all their holy things, destroy the war-bundles. They stop smoking and chewing tobacco. They are bad people. They burn up their medicine pouches, give up the Medicine Dance and even cut up their otter-skin bags.

Crashing Thunder, as we have seen, was himself persuaded by peyote cultists that it was disgraceful to have his hair long, and he gave his shorn hair with his medicine bundles to his brother-in-law, as both wept and as he received the thanks of his relatives. Clothing and headdress are also symbols of conflict between the old and the new for Taos and Osage.

A dramatic solution of a life-long problem was offered Crashing Thunder in peyotism. He had lied about having gotten power from a vision-experience in connection with the the older native religion: so important for personal prestige was this experience that he was betrayed into fa.brication to obtain it. But he never lied to himself. All his life he was aware of the deception, and being a man of marked fundamental honesty, he keenly felt the fraud. Finally at the age of forty-five he did achieve through peyote the experience which he had missed in his youth. His conversion to the peyote religion was consequently most profound : "It is the only holy thing that I have become aware of in all my life," he said simply, after this experience.

Jack Thomas (Delaware) solved a problem of major importance to himself through peyote. He had been appointed a Government policeman, and found considerable conflict between his duty and his sympathies. Finally he became gravely ill, and a meeting was put on by his brother and another relative to pray for his recovery. In this meeting the answer came to him :

The others in the tipi did not like me. Peyote told me this. I had been a man-catcher. That was the reason. The two persons that loved me prayed for me and I got well. I did not go back to my job of man-catcher. Peyote showed me that it is wrong.

The mechanisms for social control afforded by the public and communal nature of the cult (as opposed to the individualism of the older religions in the Plains) are on the whole very effective. The speeches of the leaders and old men give ample opportunity for the expression of opinions concerning the conduct of younger members in peyote meetings and out. We have already noted the case in which a Kiowa marriage was saved from destruction by timely advice and reprimand addressed to the husband in a peyote meeting. The prayers, too, which almost any individual may make by calling for a smoke, are further vehicles for quite various psychological transactions.

Peyote leadership carries with it much prestige, and the great road-chiefs like Quanah Parker, Belo Kozad, Old Man Horse, White Horn, John Rave and Jonathan Koshiway are spoken of with considerable respect. In the case of John Wilson peyote was further made the vehicle of economic success. But the negative instances are just as interesting. We have already mentioned A. S., a Seminole who lived and married among the Caddo. He built a moon of the general John Wilson-Enoch Hoag type, which differed from these in only minor details. His bid for personal prestige, however, received so little support on the part of his group that he removed the inner symbolic part of his altar to the woods nearby, and left only the crescent and apron of a "small moon."

Another case is that of H. B., a Kiowa. This group has been unimpressed by any major changes in the rite, and success in leadership lies along rather conventional lines since they regard themselves as the repositors of the original native rite. H. B. aspired to be a peyote leader and to increase his prestige through the cult. His wife's brother was the leader of the minutely variant "Kiowa Road,'' his mother's brother, further, was one of the two original users of peyote among the Kiowa and his step-father was an owner of one the "Ten Medicine" bundles. All in all his chances might have seemed good in the beginning. But a train of bad luck befell him: his wife died, his step‘son fell sick, and his mother's brother died, all within a year. His mother quarreled with the rather well-to-do wife of her nephew, C. A., who among the middle,aged men is perhaps the most promising and widely accepted peyote leader (though he still modestly confines himself to the job of "fire chief"). Then, as C. A. said—and he was not above sabotaging his rival H. B.'s chances—"he couldn't quite make the grade, because people wondered why all these things had hap-pened to him; some fellows are like that."

There is much therefore that is psychologically precarious in peyotism. Personal his-tories and happenings to the individual determine his attitude toward the cult, and the attitude may change as new anxieties arise and old ones are solved. A typical conversion perhaps is that of John Bearskin (Winnebago), described by Densmore:"

The parents of John Bearskin belonged to the medicine lodge and he belonged to that organization until 1912. The mother of John Bearskin became sick in 1905 and told him that she was near to death. He was so distressed that he went to town and became drunk. The next morning they wakened him and said that his mother was dead. His father died in 1909. At that time he had a little girl two years old and his sister had a little girl five years of age. Both children died a week after his father's death. Bearskin's father left him a farm with house, stock and implements. He disposed of these, spent part of the proceeds and with the remainder brought a house in Winne-bago [Nebraska] but later sold that and spent the money. He was drifting from place to place and working as he had opportunity when a cousin wrote him about peyote, advising him to return and use it. He went back and on January 19, 1912, he and his two daughters joined the peyote or-ganization, being baptized by John Rave. His wife joined later, during an illness. Since that time he has not wavered in his attachment to the peyote cult, neither has he gambled nor used liquor nor tobacco.

But there are skeptics who do not join. Michelson" quotes a Sauk informant, who first be-longed and later quit the cult :

I do not believe in it because it gives you the same effect as whisky when you are drunk four or five days; only peyote will affect you when you eat it once. I have eaten so there is nothing in it. I quit five years ago. And another reason why I do not believe in it is because the man did not know who the manitou was who did the talking [in the Peyote origin legend]; because the men pitied by manitous, among us Sauks, knew who they were, such as Wolf, Wisake, Turtle, or such as that.

An Oto informant was skeptical at first about the power of peyote, and experimented with it: for two days he drank tea to test its virtues, and then went to a meeting. There he was converted or "saved" when he realized that he was "pitiful like a stick."

Delos Lonewolf (Kiowa) quit peyote and became a preacher again, though he had been an important peyote leader and one-time president of the Oklahoma Native American Church ; he had had "family troubles" and was apparently persuaded thereto by his wife. Cecil Horse and Albert Cat (Kiowa) have also recently quit peyote. When Kiowa Jim lost his son, he gave his stafF, gourd and feathers to Baptiste Derond (Oto), a brother-in-law of Jonathan Koshiway. Derond was later killed in an automobile accident. His younger brother Frank now has the paraphernalia, but according to Koshiway, "they are afraid of them, and want to return them," since they are associated with misfortune."

Sometimes Christianity itself is invoked in defence of peyote. Old Man Green (Oto) used arguments from the Bible to confound a Protestant minister who had been unfriendly to the native religion. He quoted from Genesis 1.12 an opinion from God Himself upon His completing the creation of green herbs: "and God saw that it was good." Said Green, "Peyote was there then. If you condemn peyote, you condemn God's work." On the whole, however, peyotism and Christianity are mutually exclusive in the southern Plains at least, so far as membership in the one or the other is concerned. This is partly due to the usual time peyote meetings are held (i.e., Saturday night and Sunday forenoon), but partly also to the intransigeance and stubbornness to native overtures on the part of white Protestant ministers.

Bert Crow-lance (Kiowa) is an interesting case of a man who has tried both the old religion and peyote, and found both unsatisfactory. In 1935 he attempted the vision quest, fasting and praying on a hill west of Anadarko. A hernia had partially incapacitated him for work, and he was seeking means to support his large family. He went out to fast and pray in the hope (so he told the writer) of finding gold and diamonds in Oklahoma through a vision, and failing that, oil, which would make him rich. But before he had completed the required four days, his deceased mother appeared to him in a vision and told him that there were snakes around which endangered him, and that he must return later with a pipe, which he had forgotten. But the second attempt was no more successful than the first.

Crow-lance had gone to a number of peyote meetings. In one of them he prayed that his sick daughter be made well. She later died. Crow-lance in disgust threw his peyote feathers into the Washita River. A friend who heard of this was horrified :

Only when a Kiowa dies do you throw things in the river. Your children and grandchildren are living. That's a mistake, and he must right it now. We're getting after him now—he threw away all his good feathers!

The articles were recovered in part, and selections of gourds and feathers were made by other peyote-users. Another anecdote we have already recounted of a father peyote which was almost returned to the place where it had been gathered. Again, Timbo (Comanche) formerly had many cattle and horses. He has lost all of them now, and this he blames on the displeasure of peyote. In short, all manner of happenings are attributed to the approval or ill favor of peyote, and rare is the event which may not be rationalized on this basis.

From these data, then, it may be well seen that peyotism functions in all ways as a living religion: peyote christens the new-born and protects their early years, teaches the young, marries young men and women, rewards and punishes the behavior of adult years, and buries the dead—offering throughout consolation for troubles, chastening for bad deeds or thoughts, and serving as the focus for tribal and intertribal life. Peyotism is with-out question the living religion of the majority of Plains Indians today. Perhaps the state-ment of a Delaware may make this clear:'8

The old Delaware religion is too heavy for us who are becoming few and weak. It is too difficult; Peyote is easy in comparison. Therefore we who are weak take up this new Indian religion. This is the very objection raised by the old men, taking it up. But Peyote knows that the Indian's bur-den of becoming educated and at the same time keeping up the old religion is too heavy, for he said that to the old woman who was the first to discover our new religion. Peyote is to be the Indians' new religion. It is to be for all the Indian people and only for them.

The intent of the present section was to give the reader some sense of the emotional immediacy of peyotism to the present-day Plains Indian. Such a study might properly be termed "functional," and in biological analogy corresponds to the physiology or dynamic aspect of the anatomy or descriptive morphology attempted in our preceding discussion of cultural traits and patterns. But we must at once abandon our analogy, lest like some others we extrapolate illegitiinately terms which have meaning in one universe of discourse into another where they serve only to produce confusion. In biology and medicine, an-atomy may perhaps be understood wholly divorced from palaeontological and physical-anthropological (i.e., historical) considerations, but this is peculiarly not the case with any attempt to discuss a culture-pattern functionally or psychologically. Here the im-mediacy and the momentum of past history, that is the functioning of culture-patterns in terms of individuals, is precisely the point at issue. And here the aggregation of traits into a complex is less the result of organismic-biological factors than of "historical accidents' (e.g., the use of parched com in the Plains ritual breakfast—its function in the religious pattern of an agricultural economy having long since been in abeyance). The traits of a complex do not gain their relatedness or their adhesiveness from any biological-organismic "function''; culture-traits are not chromosome-linked genes, and change of one trait of a pattern need not organically change the rest. Indeed, if we can speak of "the peyote cult" at all, it is only after demonstrating its historical continuity as such.

For Bert Crow-lance and Homer Buffalo, we maintain, judged from the vantage-point of any other culture than their own, would remain enigmas or examples of inexplicably bizarre behavior if we did not fall back on history—on the decadent pattern of the vision-quest, and on patterns now almost vanished of prestige and power-seeking, etc. But the problem of the ethnologist as we see it is not the reporting of the outlandish and the picturesque; it is the discovery of plausible motivations in terms of native meanings, the discovery of the essentially humane in its to us often disguised manifestations. In practice, then, we can never know enough history either biographical or cultural, in explaining a present culture as it functions in individuals acting in such and such a (historically-condi-tioned) way. We feel the more free, therefore, to trace in the next section the history of a pre-peyote Plains narcotic used ritually, inasmuch as it affords an insight into the his-torical problem.

1  Peyote as Used in Religious Worship, II, lent through the courtesy of Alfred Wilson (Cheyenne).

2 Letter of Mack Haag (Cheyenne), Calumet, Oklahoma, to Dr. R. W. Miles, San Francisco, California, Sept. 16, 1925, and reply Oct. 2, 1925. What unfriendliness the writer met was largely the projection of individual suspiciousness, e.g., that of a Caddo who concocted a preposterous story out of his own imagination. When I returned to Anadarko in 1936 with a White companion who remained for several weeks, this man circulated the story that James Mooney's son and the son of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had arrived to make a thorough check-up on peyote, that to obtain an "absolute lowdown" we had a man stationed on every corner in the town to check up on every Indian who took a drink of beer in a saloon, picked up a woman, or was overheard swearing—in any of a dozen Indian languages!

3 Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 66-68.

4 Datura or Jimsonweed was also greatly feared; it killed or drove crazy anyone who touched it. Only shamans armed with the more powerful peyote dared uproot it. Bakanori was used by runners to rub on their legs or to carry in the girdle to counteract witchcraft in the ritual races; but if kept too long this plant also would drive a man crazy or kill him. See Bennett and Zingg, The Tarahumara, 136-38, 292, 338, 347; Lumholtz,
known Mexico, z: 350-60, 372-74; also Mooney, Tctrumari•Guayachic.

5 Opler, The Use of Peyote; Lipan Apache Field Notes; Hoebel, Northern Cheyenne Field Notes; Petrullo, The Diabolic Root, 71.

6 Can this be a reflex of an older pattern? Spier (The Sun Dance, 473) lists as a part of the Sun Dance of the Arapaho, Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne a prepared drink and the induction of vomiting. Kozad (Kiowa) believed peyote had a good effect whether vomited or not—the virtue being in the quantity eaten. Cf. the emetic rites in connection with the "black drink."

7 Kroeber, The Arapaho, 406-4o7; Parsons, Taos Pueblo, 65.

8 Radin, A Sketch of the Peyote Cult, 5-6,19-2o; The Winnebago Tribe, 395.

9 E.g., Charles Lonewolf (Kiowa) in Peyote as Used in Religious Worship, 53; Hoebel, Comanche Field Notes. Again, all the prestige of the culture itself was behind Old Man White Horn's pronouncement to the psychotic Oto, R. E., that peyote would protect him. This individual suffered apparently from an obsessional neurosis (stereotyped actions, collecting string, rolling and unrolling balls of it, persecutory fears, avoidance of people, fear of being pursued etc.). If his difficulties had originally arisen from real or supposed aggressions upon him of members of his group, the therapeutic value of the assertion that the fetish would protect him is obvious. For the belief that it would protect him was shared by all the others present, and he had the support of the enor, mous impetus a deep,seated culture,pattern possesses. The importance of the fetish plant as a psychic "author, ity" should likewise not be minimized.

10 Opler, The Influence of Aboriginal Pattern, passim.

11 For one matter, the shaman's staff never left his hand to be passed around as in the Plains; and each in, dividual had some prophylactic fetish in his hand which he never dared relinquish throughout the meeting. Note, too, the fetish peyote on the altar: on this the leader could detect evil thoughts and acts, such as the magic intrusive "shooting" of water.beetles and feathers by rival shamans into each other.

12 Radin, Crashing Thunder, 18o, see also 193-94,198-99; A Sketch of the Peyote Cult, 8-9; Densmore, Winnebago Songs of the Peyote Ceremony.

13 Skinner, Societies of the Iowa, 725; Radin, Crashing Thund,er, 177; A Sketch of the Peyote Cult, 5-6,19—zo; The Winnebago Tribe, 395; Densmore, The Peyote Cult; Winnebago Songs of the Peyote Ceremony. Confession is present in Iowa, Oto, and Winnebago peyotism. But I have noted non-peyote instances of public confession among Aztecs, Aurohuaca, Carrier, Chichimeca, Crow, Dogrib, Eskimo, Guatemaltecans, Huichol, Ijca, Inca, Iroquois, Maya, Nicarao, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwa, Salteaus, Shawnee, Slave, Tahltan, Western Apache, Yellowknife, and Yucatecans. Related practices are reported for the Arikara, Blackfoot, Southern Cheyenne, Oglala, and Sarsi.

14 Radin, Crashing Thunder, 17 1, 186-87; Petrullo, The Diabolic Root, I it.

15 Densmore, Winnebago Songs of the Peyote Ceremony.

16 Michelson, Sauk and Fox Myths.

17 A Wichita told an anecdote which he thought evidenced his own very good fortune. During a storm he was trying to get to a meeting at Red Rock in his old car, which failed him. A tragedy occurred in this meet-ing: Riley Fawfaw (Oto) was killed by lightning. A supporting wire had been put on the tipi and along this the lightning apparently traveled, for money in his pocket was melted, his neighbors made unconscious and others thrown about the tipi by the force of the bolt. Unfortunately it seemed inexpedient to inquire more deeply into detailed attitudes about this incident.

18 Petrullo, The Diabolic Root, 76.

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Our valuable member Weston La Barre has been with us since Sunday, 09 January 2011.

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