Despite strong opposition from Indigenous groups who see Black Hill area as Sacred, the South Dakota Forest Service has confirmed that the Black Hills National Forest (about three miles southwest of Deerfield Lake).
Estimates of attendance could be anywhere between 7,000 to 20,000 people, with a peak population expected during the week of July 4 weekend.
The forestry agency has a special National Incident Management Team to help manage the impact of so many people in the area of sacred ground. But the need for this in itself has raised concerns that the presence of this large gathering of Rainbow Warriors -- as they call themselves -- will be detrimental to the spiritual value and respect the Black Hills deserve.
In fact, the party hosting group derives its name from a fake Native American prophecy which states that one day a "band of rainbow warriors will unite and make the world green and healthy again."
In truth, the people behind the meaning and movement were Evangelistical Christians by William Willoya and Vinson Brown in a 1962 book titled Warriors of the Rainbow from Naturegraph Publishers.
This fraudulent base origin of the Rainbow Warriors in itself gives pause to letting them come anywhere near the Black Hill, sacred among the Lakota. Let alone the knowledge that there could be wide-spread destruction of the Black Hill that could never be mended, as well as relations with Indigenous nations.
According to Red Power Media, "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.'
In a June 22, 2015, press release, from the unofficial representatives of the Gathering have laid out a eight point action plan regarding the encroachment of the Gathering on First Nations rights and territories.
The statement adds, “We are concerned that the situation in the Black Hills of South Dakota and specifically the disrespectful actions of a few members of the Rainbow family who have self sanctioned this gathering and who have ignored the wishes of the majority of Rainbows and violated our consensus procedures in order to further their own, personal agendas and motives. We can see that this situation is creating an environment in South Dakota that is dangerous for our children, young adults and elders.”
In summary, they add,
"We call on all like minded Rainbow family members to boycott the Annual National Rainbow Gathering of the self-empowered Rainbow scouts and come home to California, Michigan or Shawnee. We love all of our Family dearly, as well as all First Nations peoples and we ask that you act accordingly with a peaceful, ethically motivated, self-evacuation of the site in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Please join the great majority of Family already gathering elsewhere."
With the event date quickly closing in, we'll see how this story develops.
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