A group called the Rainbow Family of Light, are pondering having their annual Rainbow Gathering in South Dakota’s Black Hills from July 1 -7.
An estimated 8,000 to 20,000 members who show up for the “peace and love” gathering to pray for world peace would be camping in the Black Hills National Forest.
The Rainbow Family Gatherings are strongly associated with the counterculture and the hippie subculture.
The group was founded in 1970s and professes to have no leaders or hierarchy, and appears to draw its name from a fake Native American prophecy claiming that a band of ‘Rainbow Warriors’ will ‘make the earth green again’.
The legend of Rainbow Warriors has inspired some environmentalists in the United States with a belief that their movement is the fulfillment of a Native American prophecy.
Usually, the story is claimed to be Hopi or Cree. However, the origin of the “prophecy” is not Native American at all, but rather from a 1962 book titled Warriors of the Rainbow by William Willoya and Vinson Brown from Naturegraph Publishers.
It was basically an evangelical Christian tract which was published in 1962. If anything, it was an attack on Native culture and an attempt to evangelize within the Native American community.
While there are variations on the theme, especially as it has become popularized in Internet memes, the common thread in all versions of the story is that a time of crisis will come to the Earth, that people of many races will come together to save the planet, and it is always falsely credited as being a Native American or First Nations prophecy.
The truth is several thousand hippies gathering in the Black Hills has local Native Americans along with state and federal law enforcement officers concerned.
Black Hills National Forest spokesman Scott Jacobsen said they believe there’s a 95–percent chance they’re coming to the Black Hills this year.
Jacobsen says a National Incident Management Team arrived from Washington with forest officials, law enforcement and others to get ready.
The Forest Service’s main concerns are that the gathering is peaceful and organized and that there is resource protection and fire prevention.
The embattled Black Hills are sacred ground.
The Black Hills area is considered sacred by the Lakota and nearly two dozen other tribes that claim the area as ancestral.
The Lakota made their home in the majestic Black Hills in the eighteenth century, drawing on the hills endless bounty for physical and spiritual sustenance.
The Black Hills are the Lakota’s place of creation.
After a treaty was signed in 1868, the Lakota was promised the Black Hills forever. But after gold was discovered, the treaty was broken by the US Government.
To this day, ownership of the Black Hills remains the subject of a legal dispute between the U.S. government and the Lakota.
Native American James “Magaska” Swan, a Lakota member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Dakota territory and Founder of the United Urban Warrior Society (U.U.W.S.) started a online petition that has 1,416 supporters in favor of the “Rainbow Warriors” staying away from the Black Hills.
In an interview with Red Power Media, Swan said our ceremonies belong to us! Not to the Rainbow Family of Light. “Our ancestors died fighting for our rights and our very existence!”
“We do not change or manipulate our spirituality to fit our needs; our spirits do not speak their language!” “We are asking the Rainbow Family of Light to take their event somewhere else” says Swan.
“If the Rainbow Family of Light chooses to use the Black Hills, they will forever ruin any future relationships with Indigenous peoples especially the Lakota with the exception of a few sell outs.”
They will be on National Park land (not private property) it’s occupied Lakota land. “We will rally and confront them,” said Swan.
American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) chapters have also shown their support for the U.U.W.S. and Swan says “AIM has announced that they will stand with us against the Rainbow Gathering.”
According to a Facebook event hosted by Swan, there will be a meeting with Tribal representatives in regards to the ‘Rainbow Warriors’ at the Hill City Information Center in South Dakota on Monday, June 15 @ 10:00 a.m.
Some members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light’s Facebook page, question why a meeting with the Native Americans of the Black Hills is needed at all?
Lets do what we do every FN year?
Earlier this year in March, at the annual woodland meeting in Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest, a member of The Rainbow Family of Living Light was killed and two injured in a gun rampage around a campfire.
In 2014, at Uinta National Park in Utah, an estimated 8,000 people showed up at the Rainbow Gathering. A National Forest spokeswoman said there were 587 total incidents, including 31 arrests and 136 citations for violations. Two people died in their sleep during the event. The arrests included drug possession, drunken driving and public urination.
In July 2011, a woman named Marie Hanson, from South Lake Tahoe California, went missing in Skookum Meadow Washington State while attending the Rainbow Gathering at Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In October 2011, human remains and jewelry were found near the woman’s campsite. It was later confirmed that the remains were those of Hanson. Police said it was a suspicious death.
The Gatherings also double as an excuse to throw a party in the woods.
The Rainbow Gathering prides itself on being unorganized and these recent gatherings have also had a more sinister side, attracting a seedier crowd that uses all the anachronistic peace-loving as cover for drug abuse, theft, and violent crime.
Pot smoke, public nudity, and drum circles abound.
Environmental impact and crimes such as drug use, assaults, fugitives and serious traffic charges like drunken driving are often difficulties associated with Rainbow Gatherings, and have resulted in strained relations between the gathering’s participants and local communities.
So it would seem the Native Americans and their supporters, along with the state and federal law enforcement agencies — who are all opposed to the next Rainbow Family of Light gathering in the sacred Black Hills — have very legitimate reasons to be concerned.