In the 1890’s, the American ethnographer James Mooney traveled to the land of the Comanches to gain an understanding of the Comanche Peyote Ceremony. He eventually saw the ritual as a fountain of honesty and of true spiritual inspiration. Mooney soon began to see the medicinal value of the peyote to tribal people as well.Outstanding single picture of the noted Comanche Peyote leader Red Sun or Puiwat (Without Eyes), ca. 1893. Photograph taken by W. J. Lenney. Courtesy of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C.
In the encounter with well-known peyote men, Mooney realized that the Comanches were one of the early users of peyote within the teepee ceremony.
As he was welcomed into the Comanche peyote meeting, he observed the gathering very closely. For the meeting, the famed Comanche Chief Quanah Parker who was the main protector of the ceremony had the elder Red Sun command the all-night meeting of fellowship.
Of the respected old great warrior Red Sun who was also known as Puiwat (Without Eyes), Mooney would later share that Puiwat “was blind and very feeble” yet “when it came to his turn to sing the midnight song, he took the rattle and sang as vigorously as any of the others.”
After the meeting was over, the Comanche participants posed for a group picture beside their teepee for James Mooney. They were shown posed in front of Quanah Mountain. In his later report at the Smithsonian, Mooney shared that the peyote was not to be feared. It allowed him to pursue a commitment to help preserve tribal ways.