United States. Congress. House. Committee on India.

Peyote : hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives on H.R. 2614 to amend sections 2139 and 2140 of the revised statutes and the acts amendatory thereof, and for other purposes online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on IndiaPeyote : hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives on H.R. 2614 to amend sections 2139 and 2140 of the revised statutes and the acts amendatory thereof, and for other purposes → online text (page 8 of 28)
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able. The temptation to call again the enchanting magic will be too much for
some men to resist after they have set foot in this land of fairy colors where
there seems so nnich to chai-ni and so little to excite horror or disgust "'

Dealing as we are then with a most iiotent drug producing such extraordinarv
psychical pleasures, need we wonder that it is eagerly sought that its use is
defended, and that it Is playing havoc within the ranks of our Indian popula-
tion already so weakened by disease? Thousands of our most typical virile
and promising Indian youth, young men who have come from our Government
schools, are the chief promoters. The old medicine superstitions no longer

P15V0TE. 47

appeal. Here is something new and wonderful. It retains enougli of tlie old
to make it Indian, and he adds what he has superficially learned and ol1ser^•ed
in bur civilization and religion. Tt appeals to his craving for leadership and to
the lust of the flesh. And to-day we have a new semii'eligious movement nmonfr
our Indian people, with peyote a.s a fetish that is worshipped iis soniethinn ex-
traordinarily supernatural.

In n\any tribes meetings are now held every night \A'ith all-ninht sessions.
The drug is passed in a dry form or as a tea. Everyone lakes as much as
he or she may desire, (iradually the majority present becomes intoxicated,
enjoying the incessant and wonderful flow of vision from the inevitable reaction,
hut with no desire for a bard day's work.

The drug is also constantly used by many during the week. It has bei:ome
a daily necessity, .\lthough it has no remedial value and is most dangerous, it
is used in all forms of sickness- and disease for old and young, for the strong,
and the new-born babe. .\m\ we need not wonder. The sick man wants some-
thing to rid him of the sense of pain. He wants his nerves benumbed. The
white man administers his byperdermic doses: the Indian, too, enjoys allevia-
tion from pain and stimulation of the nervous system. Thousands and hundreds
of thousands of people have no doubt gone of the \'\-orld in a very happy frame
of mind through the use of opium, morphine, cannibis indica. The Indian igno-
rantly takes his supernatural remedy by the pound instead of by the grain, by
the cupful instead of the drops or spoonful. Meed we wonder that frequently
an emaciated, anemic, helpless, dying patient will, under this powerful stimula-
tion, rise from his bed. walk about, gather bis relatives and friends together,
make a most wtmderful speech concerning the things lie has seen, shake hands,
bid farewell, and then lie dowi; and in a few minutes die. To the untutored, it
does seem supernatural and marvelous. Or need we wonder that Infants troubled
with the connnon Milnients of children, when given dose after dose of tills drug.
die of paralysis, digestive, and nervous disturbancesV And need we wonder
when robust, sunny faces of young men as they come from school, soon become
sallow, inky. suid<en. and their strong bodies debauched by the lusts of the
flesh, hastened to an untimely death? What ciiu we expect of any people whose
bodies have been enervated !\nd ruined by Rny kind of a powerful drug? The
American Indian in his [jresent physical condition needs every ounce of physical
strength to resist the ravages of disease.

We are now face to face with a question: Is it a menace to progress? Is
it merely a pleasurable indulgence? Shall we treat it with indifference — a
Joke of politicians? Or sliall we treat it intelligently as men and women of
high i)ntriotic and moral purposes? The Indian thinks it is his salvation.
Never before has he seen such wonderful things. It is the herb that God gave
for the weak. It is the magic \\-and that dispells the darkness and brings the
light. But, ah. what delusion ! What fancied pictures ! What castles in the
air ! Finally and certainly what a debauched ruined life !

The Indian has also been taught that it is a cure for the liquor habit. And
true it is many drunkards have enten mescal and have stopped drinking liquor,
but mescal is merely a more dangerous and potent substitute. Many use both.
Many mescal leaders are also fair greatest drunkards. Says Dr. Richardson,
of Denver, concerning the relative effect of alcohol and mescal : " So far as its
results upon the human economy are concerned from a pathological standpoint.
alcohol Is altogether the safest and least harmful. The alcoholic subject may.
by careful system of dietetics, escape physical and mental weakness, but the
mescal fiend travels to absolute incompetency. It is a vicious thing."

This Mohonk conference, the Indian Department at Washington, and the
Nation at large has never taken a doubtful stand as to the influence of liquor
on the Indian race, but hei-e is an agent pronounced by the highest authorities
as still more dangerous than liquor. The Indijin drunkard has been taught and
knows his danger and penalty. The mescal enter, ignorant of the fatal con-
sequences of drug habits, gradually but certainly is going on to his destruction.

Frienfls, I feel confident that no intelligent person sincerely and seriously
devoted to the cnuse of the American Indian would care to argue the question.
We know that as a habit-forming drug, stealing upon the victim like a thief in
the night, it will clutch him in its deadly grip. Not only this gensration, but
the rising and future generation that will be the product of the physically,
mentally morallv weakened present, must be considered. Immediata effects
raav in many cases be apparently slight, some of these have strong bodies, and,
like the alcohol drinker, the effects may seem .slight nt first. But the normal
functions of the body can not be interfered with day after day. week after week,


^'ea^ after year without the most serious results. If the resistance to disease of
the present generation is already alarmingly low, what shall we looJi for In
the future?

About 16 years ago Dr. and Mrs. Roe met a powerful and Intellectual Indian
of the Oomancha Tribe of the Southwest. They discussed with him the phil-
osophy of the ancient Indian ideas until the question of mescal was introduced.
This man had four sons and a daughter. The father and the four sons went
into mescal, using it throughout the following 16 years, with constantly in-
creasing amounts. The four sons were married early in life, and had many
children. There remains but one child of the otfspring of those four ,men.
Thsir infant children were treated with mescal. The daughter, on the other
hand, became a Christian, induced her husband to become a Christian, and now
has a beautiful little family growing up around her. This is but one instance.

And then industrially it is bound to become one of the greatest hindrances to
progress. Jlany are now working their farms, but who will question the ulti-
mate outcome of our industrial hopes for the Indian if this habit continues and
increases. Beautiful buildings, houses, barns, farms, implements will be of
no avail unless we get at some of the problems that lie entrenched in the lives
of so many of our promising Indians.

And what the effect mentally when it ilestroys the power of concentration,
logical thinking, strength of will, bahnced judgment? Let some of our Govern-
ment schools, superintendents, teachers, and matrons courageously tell the
story of the mental depression and stupidity, the physical langor, and destroyed
aspirations frequently found in their pupils who secretly use It.

And when I think of the moral effects, when I know that it needs a clear
mind, a strong will, a pure imagination to build chaj'acter, when I know how
hard it is to rasist temptation and aim high under the best of circumstances,
and then when I think of becoming morally strong with the use of a habit-
forming, body-weakening, will-relaxing, imagination-exciting drug I stand
appalled and cry, " O God. we will fail in all our work unless Thou dos't set
these men free — and then they siiall be free indeed," and help us to set thera

Friends, we need definite Federal legislation to stop this drug at the border.
We need definite Federal legislation to stop it in interstate commerce. We
need State legislaiion to stop it in llie States. We need power given to the
Indian Department to deal with it as it does with liquor. We need this con-
ference and all the organization it represents and all the influence it can exert
to get back of it.

I close with an appeal from the oldest daughter of Quanah Parker. (Juanah
Parker wa.s the great chief of the Comanches, who also became the great
mescal chief of Oklahoma, and who has so long and so astutely handled Wash-
ington legislation. Mrs. Cox, his oldest daughter, recently before a large audi-
ence testified as follows :

" My father was the great chief of the Comanches. He ate mescal. He
asked me to eat mescal. I did eat for a few years, but I gave it up. I fol-
lowed a better road. I told my father to give it up. He would not. He
became very sick. I got six doctors to examine him. They all said it was be-
cause he ate mescal. I again asked him to stop; but no, 'he would not. Two
years he was sick. He became paralyzed. One day he said he would again
go to mescal meeting, for away. He took a train. He attended the meeting
The next day whi'e coming home on the train he died. Oh, friends. I ask voii
to stop that medicine, mescal."

Shall we answer that heart cry of the daughter of Quanah Pai'ker''

Exhibit K.


United States Indian Seuvxck,

United States Indian Agency,

Sluinviee, Okln.. June 77. t909.

Hon. \\ ILLIAM E. .TOM-\,SON.

Cltief Special Officrr, Salt Lakr Citii. rtali.

Dear Sir: Replying to your letter or the lOtli instant, with ivference to the
effects of the peyote, conunonly known as mescal. I beg to report as follows-

First, howe\er, I would state that the use of this drug has only recently been
started amongst the Indians at this agercy, th? fii-st to use it being the Kickapoo


Indians, who began about one year ago, the introduction coming from tlie
Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, located just west of us, or near El Reno, Okla.

1. From 30 to 50 of the Indians of this agency have acquired the habit.

2. Its effects upon the mental faculties is perhaps mora uniform than are
the effects from tlie use of alcohol, and the observation of myself, as well as
Hiat of those who have more definite knowledge of its uss in this locality than
have 1, Is to the effect that in all cases it produces stupor, which is perhaps
more intense and lasts longer tlian that produced by the use of alcohol.

3. The psychological manifestations are practically the same in all cases,
though it I'ecpiires a greater quantity to produce the effect ^^■ifh some than with
others, probably owing to the strength or condition of their system.

4. The effect is .shown almost inunedhilely after taking, and it lasts from 24
to 36 liours.

5. The effect produced, as showu by the outward manifestation, is different
from the effects of alcohol when taken in quantities sufficient to render the user
hopelessly intoxicated, in that it produces much more of a stupor than is the
case with the user of alcohol. With the peyi.te there is very rarely any violence
shown from it use, while quite the reverse is the case with alcohol.

6. I have only had a limited opportunity to observe persons who have used
peyote atregular intervals for an extended period, excepting as to 30 or 20 of
the Kickapoo Indians of this agency wlio have been using the drug during tlie
past few months. With them, I can safely say that the use has resulted in a
marked lack of progress as compared with the progress being made by these
same Indians prior to their becoming users of peyote.

7. In a way tlie system does become tolerant to the drug. or. at any rate, as
the use continues increased doses are taken and desired by the user, though I
do not know that tliey are required in order to prodvice the effect.

8. The psychological and mental effects of prolonged use tend unquestionably
to cause inactivity both of the mind and body, and it certainly does unfit the
user for the discharge of ordinary industrial and business functions.

9. From the best information I can obtain the final effect of the use of peyote,
in all cases where it has been continually used for a term of from tliree to five
years, is death; but where Indians have used it for a few months or perhaps
a year, while it undoubtedly weakens the system, I believe that it is imssible
for them to fully recover from a short period of its use and consequent liad effect.

10. Several deaths have been reported to me which were clearly caused by
the use of the peyote, two, in particular, which resulted from an apparently
healthy Indian dying while in the stupor from the use of peyote.

H. I could not say as to whether or not a maximum dose would cause death
without previous continued use. I learn from the Indians at this agency that
the customary dose for beginners is eight peyote beans, taken in (lie form pre-
scribed below, together with from two to five drinks of the \A'ater in which the
beans have been steeped; one drink being that of a small cup probably holding
about one-half pint.

12. From the best Information I can obtain, habitual use proves fatal within
from three to five years.

13. From the best information I can obtain, death is caused from malnutrition
and by a violent disturbance of the digestive organs, and also by action on the
respiratory centers.

The users of the peyote have described to me a feeling which they say they
experience after using it a short time re.sembling that of suffocation.

14. Tlie use of the peyote is reported to remove any desire for alcohol, but
I do not understand from any of the Indians at this agency that it removes any
desire for other narcotics ; however, so far as I am informed, none of the Indians
here habitually use any narcotics other than the peyote bean and liquor.

15. From my observation and the information at my command, the use of
the peyote has never resulted in the cure of any disease, its use having re-
sulted in quite the opposite, in so far as it weakens the system and consequently
subjects it to disease.

16. It is most commonly used among the Indians of this agency by first
steeping the beau in hot water; then the bean is mashed and rolled in the
fingers, and from 8 to 50 are taken at one time or during one meeting of the
peyote users. In addition to eating the bean, they also drink the water in
which the bean has been steeped, as above mentioned. It has not been used
in conjunction with other herbs at this agency so far as I am informed.

4700.S— 18-


IT. The Imlians lieie claim to use the peyute in connection with their reiiS'ious
rites, but alter giving the matter a considerable amount of thought and study,
it is my eoncl\ision that this claim on the part of the Indians is put forward
more in the hopes of quieting or refuting any efforts on the part of those in
authority to stop its use than because it has any real connection with any
reli.girins rites of the Indians. They claim that while they are under its in-
fluence they see visions and are enabled to look into the future and foresee
events which ai-e to happen, etc., and try from this to connect it with religion

IS. 1 couhl not intelligently answer this question.

.Vs to requiring our agency physician to answer these questicais. I beg to
Sii.\- that o\ir regular physician died a short time ago, and the present physician
is entirely new to the Indians, and has no knowledge <jf the use of the peyote
.•imongst them.

I am plea.si'd lo refer you to Mr. John H. Segar, of Colony, Okla., for further
information with reference to the use of the peyote; the Indians at that place
have been using the drug for many years and he. having been at that place for
about H-") years has had tdnuidant opportunity to become well acquainted with
(he v.-hole matter.

I would aNn suggest the names of Hupt. Charles E. Shell, of the Indian
a.gency at 1 )ai-liu.gton. Okla.. to whom I pre.sume you have also written. Also,
the name of Peter V. Katzlaff, an additional farmer at this agency who was
formerly hicated with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, but who is now
al)sent on his v;ication. You may address him at this place.

Any furth<'r information I can secure for you will be gladly obtained if It is
within my power.

V(i\n-s respectfully,

Fkaxk .\. Thackehy.
SKiicriiili'iideiit <iiiil Si)cci(il Dixhiir-iiitfi Aijciil.

Exhibit L.

afk1i).>.vi'i' of \vuj>1aal sinfo, a kiowa ikiuan of mountain view, oki. a.. on the
u.se of peyote ok mesc.^e, gi\"en in his own words.

■When you first eal mescal it sets your body all trembling. In a little while
the body is so tired and one lias no strength. It blurs the eyes, and one can't
see those that are sitting near him in the mescal feast ; can't see good at all.
In a short time one is nervous, can't sit still, can't rest, sit down, then change
on to one knee, then on to the other. Then (me becomes dizzy, and everything
is whirling around, .just like ,i drunk man. The cause is that the mescal is in
the stoniacli, dislends the stomach. Then the body hi'eaks out into a sweat.
At this time the mescal in the stomach tastes bitter and sour. If one takes
too much he vomits, and some other man hearing hiin vomit, he vomits too.
Not all in the tepee do this but one. two, three, four. Those who vomit have
tears in their eyes and on their cheeks. And the natural liquid hangs down
out of their nose. They wipe their eyes and clean their nose and look more
respectable. Then the man is so weak he does not wish to move or to raise his
head oi- look around, .lust hangs his head down and is perfectly quiet', some
times he is asleeji. In the morning, ,iust before sunrise, you feel like one who
has passed through some fearful thing. Then there conies a happy feeling to
think you are saved from that fearful thing. Mescal makes the heart beat
fast like when one is badly scared in the dark, or as when one has done some
bad thing, A man with a stnmg body does not feel like working for a day,
and one with a \veak body for two or three days. I \-i'as well acquainted with
three Kiowa men, strong, healthy men who died in the mescal tepee. I was
with one of these men in the feast, and lie got great trouble In the mescal,
and I saw him die the next night. Some times they hiccough and can't stop
and die. And some vomit up blood. As soon as the effect of the mescal passes
a man has a hanger for some and wishes to go to another feast.

The dinner on the next day is the finest that can be bought, no cheap food.
A beef the finest that can be bought. The dinner costs not less than ,$50, and
from that ap according to the attendance. And one man will make four of
these dinners in a year.

I know of no kind of sickness that has ever been cured among my people liy
the u.se of mescal. They eat and think they ai-e cured, but the sickness comes
back and they give up and go to a white doctor.


1 am an honest. Christian man, and in the presence of (4o(l I nui lellinK
you tlie truth. I was three years in this road ami have heen nianv thnes in
the mescal feast, and these things happen tliat I am telling you. And for IS
years, since the missionaries came, I have seen this bad road among my people.
But when I gave my heai't and life to .Tesus Clirist the oUl life is like a dark,
cloudy (Uiy. And now I am living in the bright sunshine. I know that all
we strong Christian Indians who ever eat mescal with to see this bad road
stopped among our people.
Your bi-other.


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 17th day of February. 1912.

(-'. A'. Ol.\1!K. .Votarij }'iililir.
My counuission expires August 18, 191.i.


Mr. TiLLMAx. State for the record your iiiiiiie. (iccupatioii, and
experience as a plwsician'^

Dr. Wiley. Harve,y W. Wiley. For 29 years I was Chief of the
Bureau of Chemistry of the I)epartiiient of Agriculture. I can
hardly describe my occupation now. I am an editor, lecturer, and
farmer, mostly a farmer.

Mr. Tili/MAjs'. Are you a practicing physician ; or ha\'e yon been ''.

Dr. WiUET. I am a graduate in medicine, but I was never a prac-
ticing pliysician.

Mr. TiLLJiAx. You may begin and in j'our own way tell what you
know about this drug peyote — wdiat it is, what use is made of it, and
whether you have investigated to find out its constituents; and, if so,
tell what they are?

Dr. WnuEY. I will detail to the committee my own personal ex-
perience and relationship to this drug. It was brought to my atten-
tion along about 1893, or near that time, by Mr. James Mooney, of
the Bureau of Ethnology, who had spent many years among the
Indians of the Southwest, and who was familiar with the use of
peyote cactus by the Indians with whom he lived. He brought with
him on his return to Washington quite a large number of these ripe
and dry buttons of the cactus. He came to see me and asked whether
I would undertake a chemical examination to determine, as far as
possible, the physiological properties of this product. I undertook
the task of determining both of these qualities, the chemical compo-
sition and the physiological properties. Having no pharmacological
laboratory of my own I asked Dr. D. W. Prentiss, professor of ma-
teria medica at the George Washington Medical School, and his as-
sistant, Dr. Francis P. Morgan, who was professor of pharmacology
in the same institution, to imdertake the experimental work. Dr.
Morgan since then has been employed — as least for 10 or 15 years — as
a pharmacologist in the Bureau of Chemistry. I went over to the
bureau to see if I could get him to come and give personally the
results of that work, but he has gone into the Army and is not avail-
able. I have an account, however, of his work. I consulted with
frequently during the progress of it, so that I can give \ ery well
that part of the work which I asked these gentlemen to do.

I asked Mr. Ewell — dead now — who had been for many years one
of my very competent assistants, to undertake the chemical work,
which he did, with my collaboration and constant supervision and


The chemical work is easily described. He found that this bean
contained three alkaloid bodies and also a resin. He separateil
these bodies from combination and determined the chemical character
of each. Two of the alkaloids are crystalline and one partially so,
but not entirely so. He delivered these alkaloids to Drs. Prentiss and
Morgan for their physiological tests, and also samples of the whole
button. These alkaloids themselves do not produce the intoxication
which is produced by the button. They are, however, very toxic.
Administered to guinea pigs and mice all of these alkaloids produce
the same effects, practically, as are produced by strychnine — convul-
sions, opisthotonos ; . that is, the bending of their heads backward,
and the general condition and appearance that result from a similar
use of strychnine. The lethal dose was also very small. It re-
quired only a very small quantity of these alkaloids to produce death
in guinea pigs and in frogs. Death seemed to be pi'oduced by the
paralysis of the respiratory organs and not of the heart, because the
heart would beat sometimes 15 or 20 minutes after the animal was
dead. So it did not get to the heart to produce death, but produced
paralysis of the nerves and muscles of respiration. In other words,
death was produced by asphyxiation, and not by any sxaecific action
on the heart.

When these alkaloids were administered to young men by Drs.
Prentiss and Morgan they did not produce any of the symptoms of
intoxication and visions of a delightful character and the lack of
coordination of the mental faculties which are produced by the
button alone. Therefore we infer that the toxic principle — that is,
in producing intoxication, which supervenes upon the use of these
buttons — ^is due to the resin. In this instance it is like cannabis,
which produces a similar kind of intoxication when given to human
beings, the only difference being that it is perhaps more active even
than the toxic principle of the cannabis.

Now, my own connection with this was in the organization of the
investigation and in following it up throughout personally by fre-
quent consultations. After the work was done Mr. Ewell decided
that he would like himself to become a subject of experimentation.

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on IndiaPeyote : hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the House of Representatives on H.R. 2614 to amend sections 2139 and 2140 of the revised statutes and the acts amendatory thereof, and for other purposes → online text (page 8 of 28)