The Old Growth Forest of North America, the great American Buffalo, and both Grey and Red wolves of North America are just a few of the many species of plants and animals that have faced dire threats of extinction at the hands of mankind. Within the past 150 years, mankind has brought massive destruction and pollution to our Earth. Most if not all of these threats occur as consequences of commercial exploits by mankind. Among the countless threatened species in existence there is a very unassuming cactus that resides among the desert brush of South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lophophora williamsii, or more commonly known as Peyote, barely grows above ground. It has no thorns and from time to time will flower a beautiful yet simple pinkish blossom.
At least 5600 ago humans began ingesting Peyote. There are a number of stories describing how Peyote first reached the people. There is the Huichol story of the Blue Deer. The Northern tribes tell a story of Two Brothers or a Pregnant Starving Woman. Of the different origin stories, one thing we can assume is that our ancestors understood the Peyote to be a healing plant. For over five millennia the people of Turtle Island, also known as the continent America, utilized Peyote to help with physical, mental, and spiritual ailments.
In 1918 the Native American Church was incorporated as a religious organization. There are approximately 250,000 enrolled tribal members of the Native American Church. There are thousands more who attend NAC (Native American Church) meetings throughout Canada, United States, and Mexico. Peyote is now reaching across the globe and helping people of all backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. With the growth of the NAC, we are witnessing a large group of our world society respecting and valuing this sacred healing cacti.
Today in the northern territory of its native habitat, Peyote no longer grows on public land. All the land has been bought up by ranchers, energy developers, and entrepreneurs of the like. Thus to harvest the medicine requires either paying a lease to harvest or trespassing to harvest. Under the current system for harvesting and providing medicine to the many NAC Chapters across the U.S. the harvesters operate under pressure to get as many buttons as possible and as quickly regardless of size or maturity. The result of this system of harvesting is a steady decrease in medicine. Areas that were abundant with medicine for thousands of years are now coming up barren. Along with unsustainable harvesting practices are the threats of development without proper protections to sensitive flora. Development often will clear an area rich with Peyote just to provide grazing for cattle or clearance for roads and building. These are two of the main threats the sacred Peyote faces to remain in it native habitat.
Morning Star Conservancy was formed to protect, educate, and sustainably care for the Lophophora williamsii. Morning Star intends to educate those invested in protecting threatened habitats, ecosystems, and species about Peyote and its native ecosystem. In Phase One of our mission, the production of the Morning Star Film Project, we intend to raise awareness, educate the public of this botanical treasure, and realign development, progress, and growth with values that support clean air, clean water, and thriving ecosystems. It is our goal to utilize the film to raise the support to acquire a large swath of land that can be a conservancy for the Peyote and its many plant and animal allies to coexist. The conservancy will be a living model of sustainable practices. It is our vision that Morning Star Conservancy will be a standard for how today's complex relationship between society and Peyote can thrive. The medicine is of immeasurable help to thousands of us today. Our goal is that it continues to help us for generations to come.