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The Peyote Cult, by Paul Radin, [1925], at


At every phase of the cult's development Rave had to contend with the hostility of the conservative members of the tribe. It would be interesting to know in what manner and degree this hostility manifested

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itself upon the first introduction of the peyote. As we have seen, there was in the beginning little difference between the beliefs relating to the peyote and those connected with the old Winnebago medicinal plants. Nevertheless the author was assured that hostility was exhibited to the new cult from the very start. Would the same hostility have been exhibited had this new feature represented some development from within the tribe? In other words, what it would be interesting to know, is whether the fact that the peyote was derived from without led to a hostility different in kind from that exhibited toward an innovation developing within the culture itself. No evidence could be obtained that would justify us in explaining the hostility felt by the older conservative Winnebago as due in any part to the fact that it was alien in origin. Certain elements that to-day form an integral part of the most popular of all Winnebago ceremonies were borrowed from the Sauk and Iowa, and the Winnebago realize this and mention it in the introductory myths told in connection with the preparatory rites of the medicine dance. The explanation obtained was always the same—that the hostility was due to the fact that the teachings of the Peyote people departed from those of their ancestors and that the Peyote were simply aping the habits and customs of the whites. What seems to have met with the greatest opposition from the older shamans was the denial of the doctrine of reincarnation. The Christian doctrine of the immortality of the soul does not seem to have been felt as a substitute at all. One old conservative assured the author that he had long ago prophesied the appearance of the peyote among the Winnebago. He told the author the following:

"This medicine is one of the four spirits from below, and for that reason it is a bad thing. These spirits have always longed for human beings and now they are getting hold of them. Those who use this medicine claim that when they die they will only be going on a long journey. But that is not the truth, for when they eat peyote they destroy their spirits, and death to them will mean extermination. If I spit upon the floor, the sputum will soon dry up and nothing will remain of it. So death will be for them. I might go out and preach against this doctrine, but it would be of no avail, for I certainly would not be able to draw more than one or two people away from this spirit. Many will be taken in by this medicine; they will not be able to help themselves in any way. The bad spirit will certainly seize them."