Incorporation of Native American Church under Saskatchewan Benevolent Societies Act


The Native American Church, or ‘Peyote Religion,’ which included 40-50 members of Red Pheasant, became officially incorporated under the Saskatchewan Benevolent Societies Act of 1954, after having begun the quest for legal charter status earlier that year.

Because peyote ceremonies had legal protection as part of the Native American Church, it became difficult for Indian Affairs officials to suppress ceremonies that employed this substance. This represented a transition from the privileging of Christian religious institutions as being the primary expression of legitimate spirituality in Saskatchewan - a Eurocentric belief that was upheld by the Doctrine of Discovery and resulted in the oppression of Indigenous spirituality from contact onwards (evident through colonial endeavours like missionaries and education policies).

E.W Cousineau to R. Bottle, 1954 (NAC, RG 10, vol. 10,243, file 1/-16-2)