Between Two Worlds: The Survival of Twentieth Century Indians Page: 169
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Native American attempts to defend the peyote religion as
protected under the first amendment to the United States
Constitution achieved some success. Usual political recourses-
petitions, memorials, tribal and inter-tribal delegations to
Washington, D.C., intercession by pro-Indian individuals and
organizations-had some effect on a governmental policy
determined to accomplish cultural uniformity. No federal
legislation concerning peyote became law. Failing in Congress,
reformers turned to legislatures in those states where the use of
peyote was widespread, to prohibit possession, transportation,
and use of peyote. Lobbying the Oklahoma Territorial Legisla-
ture, peyote opponents succeeded in 1897 when that assembly
adopted the first law prohibiting peyote by name.2
Bureau of Indian Affairs officials used this territorial law to
suppress the peyote religion among American Indians. In 1907
an agency farmer hired to teach Cheyennes and Arapahoes
informed police that a religious ceremony, using peyote, would
take place near El Reno. Under the 1897 act local police broke
up the religious meeting and arrested three Indians-Reuben
Taylor, Howling Wolf, and Percy Kable-for peyote possession.
Vocal and popular American Indians and their friends
requested a hearing from the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature
on the prohibition of peyote and consequent harassment
during religious ceremonies. Quanah Parker, a well-known
Comanche leader, and others testified before the newly-formed
legislature of the State of Oklahoma. As a result, in 1908, the
First Oklahoma State Legislature repealed the anti-peyote law.
Peyote opponents attempted a re-enactment of the anti-peyote
bill but failed in 1909 and again in 1927.
In 1908, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials interpreted a
provision for the suppression of the liquor traffic in the Indian
Bureau Appropriation Act of 1907 as prohibition of peyote.
Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs C. F. Larrabee
promptly assigned Chief Special Officer William E. "Pussy-
foot" Johnson to suppress the liquor and peyote traffic among
Indians. The federal stance rested entirely on an unverified
assumption that peyote was an intoxicant.
"Pussyfoot" Johnson began his campaign to suppress peyote
by destroying cactus plants in southwest Texas, intimidating
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Gibson, Arrell Morgan. Between Two Worlds: The Survival of Twentieth Century Indians, book, 1986; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc862903/m1/185/?q=Parker,%20Linda%205: accessed September 22, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; .