Rainbow Family of Living Light Photo – Facebook Photo
What has been interesting about watching the Rainbow’s Gathering in the Black Hills fiasco unfold, as Lakota line up in support and opposition to the U.S. Forest Service permitted encampment for 20,000 on their sacred land, are the ways in which white Rainbows have been picking and choosing who is a “real Lakota” to them based on stereotypes and self interest.
Here is a group (the Rainbows), ostensibly without leaders themselves, trying to discern who the real authentic Native leaders are on Pine Ridge, a reservation with a long (and well-documented) history of discordant internal national politics. And the Rainbows are seeking these leaders to get approval after the fact for a decision they made without proper consultation, a fait accompli.
And, of course, they are relying on all the stereotypes of the “spiritual Indian” to dismiss “angry Indians” as not being real Lakota.
It’s such a strange playing out of all these issues Native people have been discussing through social media (#NotYourMascot) of the pigeonholing Native people face (and are limited by) created by stereotypes in the American consciousness. In this case, it is dividing a tribe for the benefit of a gathering on the 4th of July by a group of white anarchists in the Black Hills, sacred land still illegally held by the United States affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians.
A recent 2013 documentary “Red Cry” made by Cante Tenza, the Strong Heart Warrior Society that is leading the opposition against the Rainbow Gathering can be found on their website. In the documentary, the leaders of this group can be seen being interviewed about their views on the state of the Lakota Nation today. Contrary to the Rainbows dismissive assumption of these grassroots leaders who trace their society’s existence to Crazy Horse and the original akicita, these Lakota come across as thoughtful and active in issues on the Pine Ridge.
Not so thoughtful are some of the attacks on Native American dissenters by Rainbows on social media. Two Rainbows, Sadie Marie Whitmer and a White Buffalo Calfwoman Twin Deer Mother (her actual Facebook profile name) have issued threats to shut down a Native American woman, Toyah Browneyes’ (Cherokee) Facebook account using Facebook’s Real Name policy. Native American activists on Facebook have been retaliated against for their activism by the reporting of their Native surnames as fake.
Today, on the 139th anniversary of the Battle of Greasy Grass (to Americans, the Battle of the Little Big Horn) the Strong Heart Warrior Society is delivering an eviction notice to the Rainbow encampment. They are accompanied by Rainbows who agree with them. In their press release, they state, “The delegation will be peacefully asking the Rainbow gathering to vacate the land and “No Trespassing” signs will be posted to warn others coming in after the eviction. The Lakota vow to follow through with the eviction and will be monitoring the situation into the planned July gathering dates.”
Jacqueline Keeler is Navajo and Yankton Sioux. She is producing a documentary, “7-Oil-1: Inside the Bakken” about the oil boom on the Ft. Berthold reservation in North Dakota and a mother of two living in Portland, Oregon.