2015 Gathering

The 44th annual rainbow gathering of the tribes is happening in the Black Hills of South Dakota." (The consensed areas include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and South Dakota.) For posts related to the gathering location including directions and site updates, click here. For the Howdy Folks, click here. To find out specifically where the gathering will be, you need to understand how we find our "home" each year. Click here for an overview of the process. To make it into the gathering without a ticket, click here. Please ignore all rumors of cancellation. Copy and distribute this information freely.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yet another perspective on the gathering

Slide show from Rich in Spirit of Instance Soup.    Click here to see what he is sharing.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Black Hills Rainbow Gathering Documentary 2015 (Parts 1-5)

Updated 7/30/15 - it has come to my attention that explicit permission was not secured for each person who appears in this video. Just an FYI.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cleanup is done

Hi all, I just received this message from a friend who stayed until the end of cleanup.


Just left the woods you can announce Clean up crew is out and we got raving credits from the FS. We even got invited back anytime and local Natives loved us and may decide to do a yearly Regional. Locals loved us and said come back soon, Natives are embarrassed at the two trouble makers and lots of work got done on the rez.....multiple times.

Supporting Native Efforts Opposed to Keystone XL - July 26

Keep in mind, that opposition to Keystone XL is something I personally support. In no way does this blog post represent the rainbow gathering or other gathering participants. However, given that the universe pulled us towards South Dakota this year, I think that perhaps other gathering participants may feel called as well.

Keystone XL Resistance March and Ride

Sunday, July  26 11 a.m. Fort Pierre, South Dakota
Meet in Fort Pierre next to the Pizza Ranch at 11am MDT (12pm CT). Riders both native and non-native will be leading us and we will ride and march together across the bridge into Pierre to show our collective resistance to tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. The march will be followed by a water ceremony, concert rally, and a community feed.

For details and contact info, click here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Other Reflections on the Black Hills Gathering

A friend of mine has a blog of her own. She was much more involved on the land than I was this year. She's put together her thoughts and photos on this year's gathering - click here to read and see what she has to say.  (Read part two here.)  (Read part 3 on oven building, here.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summary of Treaty Issues in Black Hills

At the gathering in South Dakota, some First Nation family brought this information summary sheet on the treaty issues in the Black Hills to share with folks who gathered there. I have scanned and am sharing the information.

Click here to download the pdf. Please download and distribute freely.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Vision Council Consensus

Consensus #1: We support AIM Grassroots and the Lakota people's continuing struggle to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier

Consensus #2: The 2015 Vision Counsel of Rainbow Family of Living Light on the land in the occupied 1st Nations territory of the sacred Black Hills would like to reaffirm that counsel process is realized by reaching consensus on the land. We would like to encourage individuals to question all sources of information and to dispel any illusions of "officialness". Know your sources.

Consensus #3: The 2015 Vision Counsel of Rainbow Family of Living Light on the land in the occupied 1st Nations territory of the sacred Black Hills reaffirms that consensus implies only the agreements of the people on the land. We do not have representatives, especially on the internet.

Consensus #4: The 2015 Vision Counsel of Rainbow Family of Living Light on the land in the occupied 1st Nations territory of the sacred Black Hills has consensed to invite all peoples, out of love and with respect, to gather peacefully for silent meditation in the morning of July 4th, 2016 until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the public lands of the White and Green Mountains National Forests in the states of Vermont, Maine or New Hampshire.

Consensus #5: The 2015 Vision Counsel of Rainbow Family of Living Light on the land in the occupied 1st Nations territory of the sacred Black Hills encourages individuals to use open counsel processes to allocate limited accommodations such as access to closed roads, special needs parking locations, and fireplaces.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Reflections on the gathering(s)

I am so proud of my family on the land in South Dakota, Michigan, California, Illinois and where ever else people gathered to pray/meditate for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet. You are my shining stars.

I think this year we realized how flexible and adaptable we are. The best part of the many gatherings was that people, who weren't used to focalizing or plugging into tasks, which need to get done at a gathering, had the opportunity to learn new skills. Thank you for stepping up and learning how to keep this hodge podge family safe and healthy.

The many smaller gatherings reduced the intensity of tasks such as parking cars, Shanti Sena, feeding the family, and helping us all stay healthy. With a slower pace, it's easier for newer family to learn, grow, and gain the wisdom this family needs to survive to the twenty second century.  I know the conversations that we started this year will help us grown in positive and healing ways.  I look forward to talking with my family face-to-face as we digest all that we learnt this year and hearing how the gatherings outside of South Dakota unfolded. 

As a person who normally works her ass off at larger gatherings, I spent my brief stay in South Dakota visiting with family I have worked with for years, but with whom I never had the time to make personal connections. Such a blessing to laze away the afternoon of July 3 at the Ovens and Kid Village with old and new friends instead of dealing with Forest Service b.s., thousands of people coming in without appropriate gear on cold nights, or the craziness of the night of July 3rd. 

While I've heard that all the regional gatherings went well, I'd like to share a few general thoughts about the gathering in South Dakota.

I arrived in main meadow on July 2nd just in time for dinner circle.  I had time to hug some well-known friends before a Lakota man from AIM (American Indian Movement) spoke to dinner circle. He told those at dinner circle that the Lakota people welcome us to the Black Hills.  He asked us to love and respect one another and leave the area in better shape than we found the land. He said we all need to walk hand-in-hand. He shared his hopes that this gathering was the beginning of a relationship between the Lakota and gathering participants which will continue.  Afterwards, his niece said a prayer in Lakota for the gathering.

And so it went.  

One evening in a lodge in main meadow, a Lakota grandmother shared Lakota stories and ways of living in the world. She told those present that the Lakota never lived in the Black Hills, but rather came to these hills to pray. She was happy that we had come to the Black Hills to pray and invited us to come to the Pine Ridge Reservation to see the poverty in which her people live.  She also acknowledged that not everyone on the Rez was happy to see us gather in the Black Hills.

In a collaborative workshop, some of the younger First Nation family at the gathering shared a vision of gathering participants teaching some of the skills used to gather in the woods while being willing to share their knowledge as well. Two cultures coming together with much to teach and learn from each other. In fact, one Lakota brother wants to organize a Lakota focalized gathering in the Black Hills and invite us to come gather with them in the woods Lakota style.

In regards to the protests of our presence in the Black Hills, I heard from a friend who was in South Dakota from spring council on, that at the height of the protest, three people were set up off the side of the road before you got to the gathering parking lot. But this is her story, not mine, and I've asked her to write up her experiences at this year's gathering (which hopefully will be in the next few weeks and then I will post them here).

I heard firsthand how happy some Native individuals were to be treated with respect at the gathering. In fact one Lakota said in South Dakota, things operate akin to Mississippi in the 1940s and 1950s -- it's that segregated.

For those that gathered in the Black Hills and those that did not, there are a number of efforts in which First Nation individuals indicated they would like our help.  While the gathering does not take a stand in issues such as these, many of us were asked to assist with some of the following issues. I take this time to share the information for those that would like to stand in solidarity with The Great Sioux Nation.  Rainbow gathering participants have a long history of supporting native efforts in South Dakota.  I hope non-Sioux can respectfully offer assistance in appropriate ways that respect the leadership of the Lakota and other native peoples in the area. So here goes, in no particular order. I hope you can plug into one of the efforts.

I was told that LastRealIndians.com would be a good way for people to plug into efforts in which gathering participants are asked to be present. 

Family has been asked to show up at Rapid City's Memorial Park on July 22 and 23 to peacefully and soberly protest the court's failure to provide adequate justice to the Pine Ridge Rez children who were verbally assaulted at a hockey game in Rapid City in January 2015. In addition to verbal assaults, European-American adults poured beer on the children for failing to stand during the national anthem of the United States of America. For more information, read this or this. I don't know about you, but if an adult deliberately doused my 10 year old with beer, I would be unhappy to say the least.

If you're into other projects supporting the First Nation families in the area, some of the projects are here.  You'll probably have to reach out to folks on the ground in South Dakota to get plugged into those efforts.

For those of you who have seen the films, Hempsters or Standing Silent Nation, you know that the federal government has refused to recognize Sioux tribal sovereignty and has prevented folks on the Pine Ridge Reservation from growing industrial hemp. Watch the films to learn the basics. Then sign the petition to respect Oglala Sioux Tribal hemp laws.

Support efforts to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Call President Barack Obama at 202-456-1111 and urge him to grant clemency to Leonard Peliter or sign this petition or this petition.  If you're not up on his case, click here for the basics.

If food justice is more your interest, you can plug in with Plenty who is working to support organic gardening on the Pine Ridge Rez so families can have a local supply of organic produce. Someone whispered in my ear that this non-profit was started by counter culture folks from The Farm in Tennessee. Hippies doing good stuff.

As one of the Lakota grandmothers said to those on the land, Mitakuye Oyasin.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Update from the land July 6

This update comes from a friend of mine who was involved in the entire process. Reposted from her Facebook posts with what I am sure is her implicit permission.

Update from the land July 6, 2015:

Amazing, amazing gathering. So many seeds of alliance planted with the Lakota. We had everyone from members of the treaty council and regular tribal councils (Pine Ridge and Rosebud) to Grassroots AIM, traditional grandmothers, and many others coming through and blessing our gathering. Many of these even brought their children and camped with us. Traditional Lakota prayer (in Lakota) happened before a number of the dinner circles ( from both a traditional grandmother and a young granddaughter), workshops on Lakota opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, creating a strong alliance between Rainbow and the Lakota nation, and what we can do to help free Leonard Peltier happened regularly. One of the grandmothers also told creation stories a couple of different nights after dinner circle—all reports said it was amazing.

After the gathering a number of us are going out to an elder’s place to help out with his garden and school. After that two whole busloads of folks (Luv’n Ovens and Shining Light) are going out to help another Necha with getting his grounds ready for a Sundance (building the arbor, a mud oven, etc.). We might also help a third elder at Wounded Knee after that. We’re also trying to coordinate a time when various practitioners from CALM can offer their services on Pine Ridge as well (the logistics for this are still in the works).

There are a number of other long-term plans in the works, all involving strengthening the alliance we’ve now just created and seeing how we can move forward and do amazing things together.

The gathering was small, but far more reverential and respectful than any national I’ve ever seen. In fact, it was far more like a World Gathering than a typical U.S. national. When push comes to shove, even the Projects and Hobo Alley will pull together with the rest of us (and some of them even picked up trash with us on Pine Ridge before the gathering). The 4th was amazing—everyone was SO respectful and the silence was broken at just the perfect moment.

This gathering wouldn’t have happened without the key focalizing of the scouts, XXX, XXXX, our young Tocala brothers (Lakota), XXX (Lakota/Northern Cheyenne), and the help of many others. XXX from XXXX is making a documentary about how this gathering came about, complete with interviews, audio of Spring Council, and videos of key elders, members of AIM, the Treaty Council blessing us, etc. (all filmed/recorded with permission). Those of you who are Rainbow and chose not to believe in this Gathering—well, you missed out on an amazing thing. Those of you who told others to boycott and/or spewed negative energy all over the net—not only were you completely wrong, you merely served to make this a smaller, more intimate gathering devoid of folks who do that very same thing. Those of you who believed with all your hearts this was disrespectful to the Lakota people—perhaps you should talk to REAL Lakota people out here, instead of believing the internet claims of XXXX or XXXX and their very organized and concerted campaign to make this gathering not happen. (And for those of you who know those of us who were here during spring council, if you can’t trust news from solid Rainbows here on the land, who can you trust?) And for those of you believing XXX (XXX) XXX’s claims that this was going to be another “Wounded Knee,” you were grievously manipulated. Not only did he have no following, but the opposite happened—welcome was given from many, many different sections of Lakota society, alliances were built, and both the Rainbow and the Lakota have much to look forward to.

On top of all that, it was an AMAZING Gathering, full of love, respect, joy, celebration, and new connections all around. The site was extraordinarily beautiful, the weather quite mild (except for crazy hail during seed camp), and beauty abounds

Saturday, July 4, 2015


From sunrise to noon on July 4, join us in the silent prayer/meditation for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet.  Respect the children and let them get into the center of the circle before we break the OM and the Silence. Click here for more info.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lost and Found (people, pets and things)

Every year people, pets and various objects are lost at the gathering or people not at the gathering fear people have been lost.  This year with so many gatherings going on in so many states (South Dakota, California, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado), to help reconnect people, please let me know the state of the gathering in which the losing happened.

Lost People

Every year people go to the gathering and their loved ones worry.  Just a reminder, there is no cell phone or Internet reception at this year's gathering.

If you haven't heard from your friends and/or family since they went into the gathering, odds are they are still down in the meadow and can't call you.  Either way, it's generally safer for people to stay inside the gathering, then to run the cop gauntlet to make a phone call.  Even if your loved one promised to call every day, that's a promise they will be unable to keep as that would require them to spend their entire gathering going out to some place with reception and then coming back in again.

Even if there is a place on the top of a nearby mountain where you can get cell reception if you stand on your right foot only with your left arm outstretched and the cell phone positioned exactly on your naval - one 5 minute call will eat up all your charge.  Unless your loved one can hike from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet and brought a solar panel to recharge their phone, the calls aren't going to happen for a bit. NOTE:  You may think this situation is made up, but folks how have been on the land in South Dakota have to drive 8 miles to get cell reception. I haven't heard about the other states.

Again, on the road where the cars and cops are is the area where problems occur. We strongly recommend that people stay inside the gathering. Going in and out increases a persons risk of a negative experience with law enforcement. Again, people on the land will strongly suggest to your loved one that they stay inside the gathering until it's over.

That being said, if you're going to the gathering, call your Mama or someone else, let them know you are going in and will be out of cell reception until after you leave the gathering.

If something serious happened to your loved one, then they are no longer at the gathering and would be found in a local hospital, jail, or mental health facility. If you check those places and your loved one is not there, then they are probably inside the gathering.

Most people usually surface by July 15th as the clean up crew starts shrinking by then, but some people will be on the land until at least the end of July (and on the land means no or haphazard access to telephones).  If after July 10, you still haven't heard, email me a recent photo and include this information:

    How old is he/she?
    Was this her/his first gathering? 
    Was he/she planning to camp with any camp in particular?
    Did she/he travel to the gathering with friends who have since left the gathering?
    Did she/he have any mental and/or physical health issues? 
    What kind of drugs (if any) does he/she typically use?
    Was there a specific previously agreed on plan for he/she to return home at a certain time or at least check in?

Lost Things

For those people who go to the gathering and lose something, found items are taken to Info or sometimes to the nearest kitchen so don't give up yet.  If you didn't check the lost and found items at INFO, your stuff may be there. Even if you did, many items are discovered during cleanup. At the end of cleanup, all the valuable lost and found items will be taken out of the gathering site. To try to get reconnected with your stuff, at the end of July call  the Northwest Tribes Lightline @ (503) 727-2498. Or if you weren't in South Dakota, call the lightline of the place you went. Leave your name, phone # and a brief description of what you lost. Someone will call you back if your or similar items are there. Keep in mind, lost and found at this level is for things like wallets, cameras, expensive gear.  We don't try to reunite people with lost t-shirts, bliss wear, etc.

Lost Animals

For those people who left without all the animals they brought, please go back to the site and retrieve your pets. I do not care if you have to be back to work or whatever. If you brought an animal, you need to go home with that animal. If you don't, folks on the land will find a home for your pet and it won't be your home. We never leave any pets behind.  Every pet will leave the gathering with a human companion ~ hopefully the one they came with. If you can't go back yourself, try to connect up with a friend in the area to retrieve your pet. Just a reminder, pets on leashes don't get lost as often as those not on a leash. The gathering is a scary experience for animals who aren't used to it. Read the Pup Rap for more info.  If you are a local who feel we drop off pets at the local shelter, we never do that. Other people may be stealing dogs from the gathering and dropping them off, but we don't. All dogs brought to the gathering, leave with people who were at the gathering.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

July 4 - Praying/Meditating in Unity

Image by Angela Marie Hatch

If you're not sure how we do the 4th of July at the gathering, click here for info on how we do the 4th.

June 29 Q&A About Rainbow Gathering

Family on the land is focalizing this effort to address questions and concerns from everyone and anyone. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Updates from the Land 6/26/15

Updated at 7:50 PM  6/27/15 California Time.  Sorry folks but I went to bed before everyone who is in SD was able to send me their comments. 


Our confrontation with "hundreds of angry warriors coming to evict us" yesterday turned out, unsurprisingly turned out to be a protest camp on the turnoff to the gathering populated by only our regular detractor friends James Swan and Dwayne Martin aka Chanupa. We brought them some coffee and fruit salad.

The gathering is a few hundred people, things are getting set up slowly, the ovens are arriving, kid village is here.

There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Our fears were put to rest as soon as we got to the road and saw the reality of the protest.

There are plans to build an Indigenous camp but it hasn't happened yet. So if you're heading into the gathering you can plug into this effort.

It will probably be a 'zero tolerance area' for drugs, nudity, etc. area.


There are more Lakota inside the gathering participating in what is happening than there are protesting on the road.

Some family from the gathering will be at today's events surrounding the 40th anniversary of Leonard Peltier's imprisonment.  Click here for details. Click here for the video from Leonard Peltier Day. 


Long and deep conversation is happening with those protesting the gathering onsite.  Good communications are happening. 


Illegal searches being done by USFS on the way in. 

The NIMT is spending about $250,000 'on managing'... us but they do not spend any money on our cleanup - said on camera at USFS Public Meeting on June 26


I've heard there are a lot of threats out there. I just wanna tell ya'll that all is peaceful. The only "protesters" at the road are XXXXX  and XXXX XXXX (XXXX ). Other than XXX's wife there doesn't seem to be anyone else with them. Not one person. They keep managing to spread this fear of some invasion, but really, we've been told over and over again that they have no following. They're not even welcome on Pine Ridge. On site everything is super peaceful. We have more and more native support and attendance. Real grassroots AIM members are gathering with us (not fake, blustery ones) and everyone from council members to traditionals and everyone in between seems to be positive about us right now. A video of support will be published momentarily.
So please folks, there's nothing to fear. Come out, bring your love and respect, and pray with us on the fourth!

Gathering Site Map, click here for larger version.

USFS Meeting


These comments are from a friend of mine who was in Hill City yesterday and attended the USFS meeting.

Yesterday XXXX and I arrived in Hill City. It's beautiful here! We were eating ice cream at a little parlor downtown yesterday afternoon, when 2 forest rangers came in passing out fliers for the town meeting. They were very nice. I introduced myself as Grateful and one of the ladies touched her heart and said, " I am, too. Namaste." Then giggled and said, "and my name is Hilary." It was cute

We walked from our hotel to the meeting and there were signs up along the way that read "public meeting" with arrows pointing people in the right direction. The meeting was led by forest ranger, Craig Bobzien, and district ranger, Ruth Esperance. The local deputy sheriff was also there and he responded to some of the questions. I counted about 80 people present.

2 local news stations were present as well, rolling film during the meeting and interviewing both XXXX and XXXX. KEVN and News Center 1, which is the NBC for Rapid City.

The forest service began the meeting by stating that they have been working cooperatively with the Rainbow Family and that their goal is a safe and successful gathering. They did an overview of how the process works in choosing the sight location. Then they did an overview of the Operating Plan that has been put into place. They talked about the fire ban situation and explained with all the rain they've had here recently, and looking at a case by case basis, we have been approved for specific fires in our gathering site. They spoke of the daily visits to the gathering location by Resource Advisors to ensure we are in compliance with the Operating Plan. Then, they opened up the floor for questions. The following questions/concerns were addressed;
  • Latrines and preventing local water sources from becoming contaminated
  • How do we shower in the woods
  • 250k spent - national incident management team
  • Concerns of increase in violence and crime due to influx of people
  • Additional law enforcement presence in Hill City
  • Contingency plans in place
  • ATV road closures
  • Who spends money and time on clean up
  • Preventing non-paying guests in town from using bathrooms and showers
  • Internet gossip of a conflict between the Rainbow and the Lakota
  • Complaints of illegal searches and asked where these can be reported; this question was not answered. They could not provide any info on where to file complaints and said that there were only legal searches going on.
  • Local business owners expressed its been good for business. Many spoke up and said they welcome the gathering, not a single person spoke out against the gathering.

There was no one there representing the Lakota or Sioux Nation.

Forest rangers said if there is public interest for another town meeting, it will be scheduled in the near future.

XXX stood up and tried to more thoroughly address the concerns of latrines and online gossip of conflict, but they didn't really let her finish, stating the floor was open for questions, not statements. After that, XXX  announced that the Family would be happy to answer any more questions after the meeting if people had interest. And they did! Many of us Family were approached by community members after the meeting and engaged in constructive conversation and answered more of their questions.

After the meeting ended, I walked around talking to as many community members as I could. I asked people what they thought of the meeting, if their questions were answered, what they thought of the gathering, etc. Out of at least a dozen people I spoke with, not one of them had anything negative to say. It was all positive and uplifting and many said they would like to come visit the gathering. I met one guys named Les, turns out he is one of the Resource Advisors making daily visits to the site. He was so happy to have the Rainbow Family as his assignment! He said he loves visiting the gathering and that we are bunch of, "really neat people."

As people left, XXX and XXX  were handing out copies of Alway Free.

Overall I think everything is going well here. The vibe is peaceful and mellow from my experience so far 


Kid Village on the land. About 500 people on site . Most folks getting pulled over are not at the site but in other areas enroute to the gathering.


Such cool things are happening. We're buying the bulk of our food from native-owned stores (though we have to drive super far to do it). Lots of native family are coming to the site, visiting us, and then saying "Wow! You're nothing like we were told you were!" (in the positive sense). The council member from Rosebud XXXXX and his brother XXXX (whom I totally esteem) came out, walked through our gathering and reversed their dismissal of us. After that more Rosebud folks came out and loved it--they'll be back to gather with us longer.

We have a couple of grandmothers with us, our young tocala members are awesome, and there's a great vibe throughout the camp.

Lots of folks coming out in the morning as well (including a treaty council who is happy we're here). Things are great here on the land. Ignore al rumors of violence and cancellation. They're totally bogus!

Love to all!

USFS Meeting Regarding Rainbow Gathering June 26

U.S. Forest Service officials will host a town hall meeting to answer any questions about the upcoming Rainbow Family Gathering in the central Black Hills.

 The meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club at 297 Walnut Ave. in Hill City on Friday. Forest Service and a National Incident Management Team personnel will present an update of the current situation, provide background information and answer questions from the public.

The Rainbow Family is a loose knit group of people from across the country that each year holds a large gathering for two weeks in a national forest. This year, the group has selected a site near Deerfield Lake southwest of Hill City.