peyotism, religion of some Native North Americans in which the hallucinogenic peyote button is used as the sacramental food. It is the most widespread indigenous contemporary Native American religion. Peyotism teaches an ethical doctrine much like those of the monotheistic religions. However, it eschews specific Christian theology, its exponents often stating that while Christ came to the whites, peyote came to the Native Americans. The peyote rite lasts from sunset to sunrise and is usually held in a Plains-type tepee. The rite has four major elements: prayer, singing, eating the sacramental peyote, and contemplation. The religion probably originated among the Kiowa in Oklahoma about 1890 and reflects the influence of traditional peyote use among Mesoamerican groups such as the Huichol. In 1918 many peyotists were brought together as the Native American Church.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.