Native American Tales

How Grandfather Peyote Came to the Indian People

How Grandfather Peyote Came to the Indian People How Grandfather Peyote Came to the Indian People

Brule Sioux

A long time ago, there were many sick people and a woman and her granddaughter went out into the wilderness to have a vision to find medicine for their people. The woman went out and she saw nothing, but prayed to an eagle flying overhead. She then heard a voice that said it was medicine for her people. It came from a little peyote plant. She ate it with her granddaughter and they felt much better.

The woman had gotten far away from home and she did not know how to find her way back, but she encouraged by the peyote. Each night on the way back home a spirit came and taught the woman and her granddaughter about peyote. They were staying up most of the night, but were not weary because of the peyote. Each night they learned something a little more.

The peyote plants talked to her and told her and led them to her because she did not know how to find them.

The two did not eat food or water for four days, but the peyote kept them strong.

They finally made it back to their people and the woman told them to make a lodge. They were going to perform the ceremonies of the peyote, but did not know how. They had to do everything for the first time. The people took the peyote and a baby even got some through its mother’s milk. The baby shook its rattle and a man caught a song from watching the baby.

The woman was led to a cottonwood tree by Grandfather Peyote. The tree was used to make a drum, which was used during the ceremonies. Different people had different visions about parts of the drum. The skin came from one place, the rocks on the side, another, and the rope that held it together, yet another.

From this time forward the people had peyote to use in their ceremonies and it spread to all the tribes in the area.


Peyote is a thing and it is actually a hallucinogen. It’s illegal to use except for in ceremonies like these. I’ve read a bit about it when reading a book by Mary Crow Dog. You can use it to get high, but the natives generally use it for ceremonies and they’ve done this for a long time. It’s not some new invention. The plant has been around a long time and it’s been used a long time for both ceremonial purposes and for recreational use.

The Native American church also uses peyote in some of its worship.

While this is all very nice, I’m not sure how I feel about getting high for God. The entire idea is to see something. It’s to feel something and to have some impression that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise. Being high could make you think you were a fox and that would be quite a bit different from your normal thoughts and feelings. There’s a story behind the fox statement, not my story personally.

I just don’t like the idea of getting high. Sue me. Call me straight-laced and prudish or whatever, but I don’t really like the idea of being outside of my own mine or out of control of my own mind. Being influenced upon by a hallucinogen does that. You’re not entirely in control of your mind and, yes, maybe you see things that aren’t there. Can this state be used for worship? Well, that’s what some native tribes believe. To them, you can certainly harness the effects of something like peyote to get closer to God, or whomever. It’s not a worship practice most of us would choose, but it is a worship practice even so. I don’t think it’s the best idea, but it’s not my decision.


This is the story of how peyote came to the people. I think this story has more meaning to someone who actually uses peyote in their worship. It doesn’t hold a whole lot of meaning to me. I think it’s an interesting story, but in my head I’m thinking about a bunch of people getting high together in a tent.

The people were sick, but I don’t think they were sick physically, although, maybe that was the case. The people were probably religiously sick. They didn’t have a worship practice. They weren’t getting the spiritual food they were looking for. Peyote gave them the ability to worship more intensely and it also gave them the visions they aspired to. There is an idea of spiritual sickness. Your soul isn’t getting the nourishment it needs, so you find a way that will feed it better. Underneath, this is a story of religion, or, more specifically, finding a religion. If your worship practices don’t feed your soul as they should, find other worship practices that will.


Talking cacti…

Weigh In

Would you do peyote if someone asked you?

Do you think many of us search for practices to feed our souls?


3 thoughts on “How Grandfather Peyote Came to the Indian People”

  1. If we were not meant to ingest these plants then we would not have evolved to developed receptor sites in our bodies for them. Please don’t keep the opinion that it’s just “getting high”. These plants are sacred.

    1. You make a good point. My point is that it’s so different from the worship I know that it seems like that to me, but people worship in different ways and that’s OK.

      1. Yes, exactly, it’s just another way to praise. I have a friend who recently did an Ayahuasca journey. She described it as sitting with and communicating one on one with God and the most beautiful experience of her life.

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