Peyote, Cultural Paradigm Clash, and the Multiplicity of the Normal
This chapter introduces the case of the Native American Church and contextualizes this movement within a history of European conquest, genocide, colonialism, and radically divergent views of normal behavior and the nature of the sacred. The themes developed here are “cultural paradigm clashes” and the possibility that “the normal” in human life is multiple rather than singular. The Native American Church is described within this framework as a contrasting (but viable) way of life and form of therapeutic intervention that arose as a revitalization movement and approach to postcolonial healing. Attacks on Peyote use by Europeans are described and critiqued, beginning with the Inquisition of the Catholic Church and continuing with the War on Drugs and the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith.
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