By Rosemary Pollock
Mormon Man's Peyote Case Gets National Attention
BENJAMIN, UTAH -- James Warren Mooney could face life in prison after
being charged with dozens of counts of drug trafficking and one count
of racketeering. "Flaming Eagle", as Mooney is known, was arrested on
October 10, after his home was raided and sheriff's police seized a
ceremonial pipe, a computer and 33 pounds of peyote, a hallucinogen
drug that is illegal in Utah and 27 other states.
Mooney has been called a "peyote pariah, who has been scorned by
Native Americans who are convinced peyote should be reserved for
those that are covered by the 1994 Congressional law that exempts the
use of peyote for "the practice of a traditional Indian religion."
"Being prosecuted and facing these charges, this is coming from my
heart, I consider it an honor," Mooney said. Roughly 250,000 members
in over 100 branches of the Native American Church use peyote in
ceremonies that they consider sacred. Utah County Attorney David
Wayment claims that these exemptions do not apply to Mooney who is
not enrolled in a tribe that administers peyote to whites.
Mooney has spent 10 years working in law enforcement, six of those
years were at the Utah State Prison. A commendation from Gov. Mike
Leavitt for his prison work hangs on the wall of Mooney's Oklevueha
Earthwalks Native American Church. Mooney has been disavowed by
branches of the Native American Church and was recently forced to
resign as vice president of a Salt Lake City NAC chapter.
Utah Case Tests American Indian Law
(Long Island) NY Newsday (AP) 8Jan01 P2
By Robert Gehrke: Associated Press Writer