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“They Don’t Make Prayerful Offerings When They Harvest,” Story Of The Native American Church

“The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

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Church
The sun sets over the gateway of peyotera Amada Cardenas's house in Mirando City, Texas. Ironwork reflects core Native American Church values of faith, hope, love and charity. VOA

Back in the day, when the “grandmas and grandpas” of the Native American Church (NAC) needed peyote, they would make a 2,000-kilometer pilgrimage from the reservations of South Dakota to the tiny town of Mirando City, Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s where they could find Amada Cardenas, a Mexican-American woman who at the time was the only peyote dealer in Texas.

Cardenas was not Native American, nor was she a member of the NAC. But she understood how sacred the medicine was to church members and defended its use as a religious sacrament to those who sought to ban it.

Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994.
Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994. VOA

“After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

“They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

In 2013, NACNA began researching ways to conserve peyote and its natural habitat.

Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico. VOA

Pan-Native religion

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a succulent that contains psychoactive alkaloids and only grows in southern Texas and a handful of states in northern Mexico.

Indigenous people have used it ceremonially and medicinally for centuries, as noted by 16th century Spanish missionaries, who condemned it as an evil. Peyote use persisted, however, and by the late 1800s, had spread to present-day Oklahoma, where tribes adapted it to suit their individual spiritual traditions.

In the face of government efforts to ban peyote, peyotists in the early 20th century sought to incorporate as a formal religion. In 1918, an intertribal group established the NAC, which has evolved to include tens of thousands of members across dozens of tribal nations. Members view the church as an important component of healing from historic trauma and reconnecting to tradition.

Peyote was banned in the United States in 1970, but the law was later amended to allow peyote to be used in “bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.”

Texas allows several peyoteros registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to harvest and sell peyote, but only to card-carrying NAC members with proven Native American ancestry.

Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007.
Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007. VOA

‘A beautiful ceremony’

Unlike other religious denominations, said Iron Rope, the NAC is not a unified theology.

“Different variations of the ceremony have come into play,” he said. “There are Christian aspects to the NAC today and traditional aspects, as well.”

Wynema Morris, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and an NAC member, grew up with an understanding of the sacredness of peyote and the religious etiquette surrounding its use.

“It was my own grandfather, Samuel Thomas Gilpin, who actually received peyote early on from the Winnebagos, a neighboring tribe, and passed it on to his sons, my uncles,” she said.

This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled "Cheyenne Peyote Leader." Courtesy: Library of Congress.
This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled “Cheyenne Peyote Leader.” Courtesy: Library of Congress. VOA

Peyote is much misunderstood and maligned, she said, viewed by many anthropologists through the lens of colonial prejudice.

“I don’t like their use of the word ‘hallucinations,’” she said. “You don’t use peyote to get high. You use it to pray and communicate with God — the same God everyone else talks to.”

She described all-night services of prayer, song and meditation.

“The ceremony is beautiful,” she said. “The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

Sacred gardens

In 2013, NACNA began looking at ways to conserve and sustain peyote for future generations of indigenous Americans, Mexicans and Canadians.

“It was our intent to eventually have our own land and be able to have our own peyote dealer who could understand our concerns as the Native American Church,” said Iron Rope.

The sun sets over "the 605," acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church.
The sun sets over “the 605,” acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church. VOA

In 2017, NACNA and partner organizations formally launched the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI). With funding from the Riverstyx Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research of medicinal uses of psychoactive plants, IPCI purchased 245 hectares (605 acres) of land in Thompsonville, Texas, to serve as “Sacred Peyote Gardens.”

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It is their hope that by 2021, “the 605” will house a nursery, residential and guest housing, and youth training, all supported by peyote sales.

“It’s about generations to come,” said Iron Rope. “To reconnect them to the land and to the medicine. And that’s the healing process that we’ve been missing.” (VOA)

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India Becomes the Second Largest Smartphone Market After China: Report

India surpasses US to become 2nd largest smartphone market

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The Indian smartphone market surpassed the US for the first time on an annual level. Pixabay

New Delhi: Riding on Chinese brands, the India smartphone market surpassed the US for the first time on an annual level and this is the latest science and technology news, becoming the second-largest smartphone market after China globally — reaching 158 million shipments in the calender year 2019 with 7 per cent (YoY) growth, a report from Counterpoint Research said on Friday.

While Xiaomi continued to be the top player with 28 per cent market share in the calendar year 2019, Samsung was second with 21 per cent and Vivo at 16 per cent market share, said Counterpoint’s ‘Market Monitor’ service.

Smartphone
India has now become the second-largest smartphone market after China globally. Pixabay

“Although the rate of growth for smartphone market hit single digit for the first time ever on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets with 4G penetration in terms of subscribers being around 55 per cent,” said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint.

“Chinese brands share hit a record 72 per cent for the year 2019 as compared to 60 per cent share a year ago.

“This year, we have seen all major Chinese players expanding their footprint in offline and online channels to gain market share. For instance, Xiaomi, realme, and OnePlus have increased their offline points of sale while brands like Vivo have expanded their online reach with Z and U series,” said Anshika Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

Over the past four years, Xiaomi, Vivo, and OnePlus have grown 15 times, 24 times and 18 per cent, respectively.

“This highlights that OEMs are mature enough to capture next wave of growth and expand their operations in India,” Jain added.

Smartphone
Although the rate of growth for smartphone market hit single digit for the first time ever on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets with 4G penetration in terms of subscribers being around 55 per cent. Pixabay

Samsung shipments remained almost flat (YoY) while it has shown a 5 per cent (YoY) decline in 2019.

“This is for the first time Samsung transitioned to a completely new portfolio targeting different channels (offline with A series and online with M series). However, it needs to double down its efforts to keep the momentum going,” the report noted.

While the smartphone market registered YoY growth, the feature phone market witnessed a steep decline of nearly 42 per cent YoY in 2019 and 38 per cent (YoY) in Q4 2019.

Also Read- Amazon’s Music Streaming Service Hits 55 Million Subscribers Globally

“This is due to slowdown in the new shipments from Reliance Jio. However, the players such as itel, Lava, Nokia and Micromax registered positive annual
growth despite the overall segment declined showing the untapped potential of the market,” said the report.

In fact, itel emerged as the number one feature phone brand in Q4 2019, followed by Samsung and Lava. (IANS)