Alvaro Céspedes/Texas Standard
Peyote is a small, round cactus. It has no thorns, but has unique properties that make it an especially resilient species. If you cut what’s called the “button,” which is used in ceremonies, the root has the ability to slowly regrow a new button. Still, wild peyote is on the decline. According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there’s been at least a 30% decline over the last 20 years.
But distributors like Salvador Johnson are only allowed to sell peyote to registered members of one religious organization called the Native American Church. To buy it, church members must prove their ancestry.
“To me, it’s a symbolic representation of God. It’s basically a truth ceremony; it shows you who you are, your godliness,” Mooney says.
Salvador Johnson, licensed peyote distributor, at his home in Mirando City.
Folks who meet these requirements drive to the Valley from every corner of the United States to buy peyote, or as church members call it, “medicine.” James Flaming Eagle Mooney is one of them.
“We are overharvesting the shrinking area of the planet that actually supports wild peyote,” says Martin Terry, a professor of botany at Sul Ross State University in Alpine
“My father was still living and he had moved back to Mirando. He sold peyote for about 18 years. I came out back here and I applied for my license, and I started selling peyote. I’ve been doing it ever since,” Johnson says.
Payote seller Salvador Johnson holds two peyote buttons. He has about 80,000 more on his property.
In The Only State Where Selling Peyote Is Legal, The Cactus Is Threatened And Still Controversial Peyote sellers in Texas must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to