It’s Time the Psychedelic Community Gave Back: The Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative

The psychedelic community owes enormous debts to the Indigenous cultures that, over millennia, developed the use of consciousness-modifying substances, which laid the basis for the now ever-expanding interest in and use of these medicines. Indigenous peoples are also very often the best protectors of what’s left of global biodiversity, so finding effective, concrete ways to help support these groups’ struggles to defend their lands and rights is of utmost importance to all of humanity. So far, though, while the psychedelic world is replete with romanticized language about Indigenous worldviews, it has done very little to offer genuine, large-scale tangible support that actually reaches frontline communities, and as enormous amounts of venture capital are now pouring into the psychedelic domain, this is the time to act. The Chacruna Institute’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative (IRI) was created to fill that void.

With: Joseph Mays, the IRI’s Program Director; Bia Labate, Chacruna Institute co-founder and Executive Director; and cultural anthropologist Daniela Peluso, who has extensive experience working with Indigenous communities in Peru and Bolivia. The session also features several videos of statements by Indigenous leaders from frontline communities throughout the Americas who are partnering with the IRI.

This discussion took place at the 2021 Bioneers Conference.


Bia Labate

Beatriz (aka “Bia”) Caiuby Labate, Ph.D., a San Francisco-based queer Brazilian anthropologist whose main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, religion, and social justice, is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil. Bia also serves as: Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS); Adjunct Faculty in the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS); Diversity, Culture, and Ethics Advisor at the Synthesis Institute; and is the author, co-author, and co-editor of 24 books and a number of journals and peer-reviewed articles.

Learn more about Bia Labate at her website.

Joseph Mays

Joseph Mays, MSc, an ethnobotanist, biologist, anthropologist and conservation activist who has conducted extensive cultural and ethnobotanical fieldwork in Peru and Ecuador, is the Program Director of the Chacruna Institute’s newly launched Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas, where he conducts research and builds connections with small Indigenous communities throughout the Americas to support Chacruna’s mission of increasing cultural reciprocity in the psychedelic space.

Daniela Peluso

Daniela Peluso, Ph.D., Emeritus Fellow in social anthropology at the University of Kent and a member of the board of directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, is a cultural anthropologist who has worked over the last two decades in lowland South America, mostly with communities in Peru and Bolivia. She has been actively involved in various local efforts on issues relating to health, gender, Indigenous urbanization and land-rights, working in close collaboration with Indigenous and local organizations. Her publications focus mostly on Indigenous ontologies, urbanization, violence and relatedness.

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