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Articles of Incorporation of the Native American Church,

October 10, 1918


Book: Peyote Religion: A History, Chapter 8 –  Efforts to Pass a Federal Law by Omer C. Stewart


Articles of Incorporation of the Native American Church, October 10, 1918


42.     KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENT, That we, Mack Haag, and Sidney White Crane of the Cheyenne Tribe of Indians, Charles W. Daily, George Pipestem and Charles E. Moore, members of the Otoe Tribe of Indians, Frank Eagle of the Ponca Tribe of Indians, Wilbur Peawa and Mam Sookwat, members of the Comanche Tribe of Indians, Kiowa Charley of the Kiowa Tribe of Indians, and Apache Ben of the [Kiowa-] Apache Tribe of Indians, all residents of the State of Oklahoma, do hereby associate ourselves together to form a religious and benevolent association under the laws of the State of Oklahoma, and do hereby certify:



The name of this incorporation shall be and is “NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH.”



      The purpose for which this corporation is formed is to foster and promote the religious belief of the several tribes of Indians in the State of Oklahoma, in the Christian religion with the practice of the Peyote Sacrament as commonly understood and used among the adherents of this religion in the several tribes of Indians in the State of Oklahoma, and to teach the Christian religion with morality, sobriety, industry, kindly charity and right living and to cultivate a spirit of self-respect and brotherly union among the members of the Native Race of Indians, including therein the various Indian tribes in the State of Oklahoma. 



     It is the purpose of this organization to establish one central church to be known as “Native American Church” with branch churches subject to the jurisdiction to the General Church to be organized in each of the Indian tribes in the State of Oklahoma.



The principal church with its seat of government and principal place of business is hereby established at El Reno, Canadian County, Oklahoma; each of the subordinate churches to establish by vote of the members the location of the various churches and branch churches in the territory of each of the Indian tribes in the State of Oklahoma, respectively.



The term for which this organization shall exist is perpetual.



      The principal churches shall be governed by trustees, the same to be called “The General Council of the Church” to consist of two members to be elected by the local Church established in each Indian tribe in the State of Oklahoma that may desire to become affiliated with this church and for the time being, shall consist of Mack Haag, and Sidney White Crane of the Cheyenne Tribe of Indians; Charley W. Dailey and Geo. Pipestem of the Otoe Tribe of Indians; Frank Eagle and Louis McDonald of the Ponca Tribe of Indians; Wilbur Peawa and Mam Sookwat of the Comanche Tribe of Indians; Kiowa Charley and Delos Lone Wolf of the Kiowa Tribe of Indians; Apache Ben and Tennyson Berry of the [Kiowa-] Apache Tribe of Indians, being fourteen trustees, which for the time being, shall constitute the Board of Trustees or General Council of the Main Church.  These trustees to hold office as such until the local Church affiliated with this church of any of the tribes of Indians shall select and name their successors.



     This corporation shall have no capital stock but it is authorized to levy for the purpose of the  support of the Main Church of assessments to be determined by the General Council upon the individual members of the church in the various tribes.



     The General Council composed of the trustees nominated herein shall, within thirty days after receiving Certificates of Incorporation, from the Secretary of State of the State of Oklahoma meet at El Reno, Oklahoma, and adopt, a Constitution and By-Laws for the government and control of the church.



At the meeting of the General Council called in pursuance of ARTICLE VIII hereof shall, at such meeting elect a President of the General Council, a Vice-President, and a Secretary and Treasurer of this organization who shall hold office until their successors are elected under the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws to be adopted by the General Council.

     The first officers of the Central Church were Frank Eagle (Ponca), president; Mack Haag (Cheyenne), vice-president; George Pipestem (Oto), secretary; and Louis McDonald (Ponca), treasurer.  For the first twenty-five years about thirty people from seven to eight tribes occupied all elected offices and the five or six appointed positions.  As well as the member of the original general council, they included Alfred Wilson (Cheyenne), James W. Waldo (Kiowa), Ned E. Bruce (Kiowa), Edgar McCarthy (Osage), Frank W. Cayou (Omaha), and McKinley Eagle (Ponca).  Annual meetings were specified and some were probably held.


43.     The only record of an early meeting available to me is that of 1925, which included a report for 1923 and 1924.  Most of those attending the “convention” were from Oklahoma, and all elected to office were Oklahoma residents.  Previously unreported Oklahoma tribes to attend were the Yuchi, the Shawnee, the Sac and Fox of Oklahoma, the Caddo, and the Wichita.  In 1924, Mac Haag had been elected president and Alfred Wilson was appointed a special delegate to Washington, D.C., to work with the Oklahoma Congressman to defeat the special appropriation with which the antipeyotists hoped to combat peyote distribution and also be on guard against peyote prohibition laws.  By that time, nine bills had been introduced into Congress.  In 1925, President Haag reported that there were twelve hundred to fifteen hundred peyotists.  Visitors from outside Oklahoma were welcomed.  Orin Curry, a Ute Indian from the Uintah-Ouray Reservation in eastern Utah, probably traveled the greatest distance.  Utah’s 1917 law against peyote had led to fines and jail terms, and he asked for help.  Two Omaha Indians from Nebraska declared peyotism had helped them conquer alcohol.  One claimed peyote could not be harmful because he had passed the Army physical examination although he had used peyote for years.  Clearly, the Native American Church was becoming a truly pan-Indian organization and the legal forum to deal with antipeyotism.


44.     Undoubtedly, incorporation of the Native American Church helped to prevent national legislation against peyote and strengthened the status of peyote in Oklahoma and elsewhere.  No serious attempt was made again to prohibit peyote in Oklahoma.  Also, since incorporation in one State carries over into all others, unless a State specifically outlaws the organization, the Native American Church became legally incorporated in all States, which had not legally prohibited it.  In 1918, only Utah, Colorado, and Nevada had done so.


Book: Peyote Religion: A History, Chapter 8 –  Efforts to Pass a Federal Law by Omer C. Stewart


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