Editor’s Note: This message has been submitted to us by Lillian Moore as a comment on the following story: Here Come the Hippies: Oglala Lakota Tell Rainbow Family to Behave in Sacred Black Hills.
First of all respect and deep gratitude for the Lakota people standing up for your lands. These lands are precious and need to be protected.
I am a mother of two small children and I have attended the rainbow gathering for 3 years. I appreciate the sense of community, people taking care of each other and the land. I hope that I can speak to some of your concerns.
The rainbow family is like a town and in that town there are some mentally ill people, there are some kids that have lost their way and their are some addicts (which is also a mental illness). The wonderful thing about the rainbow family is that in our town these people who receive little love and care most of the year are fed and receive first aid. Every body is treated as a human deserving of love and respect. These people are the minority.
My observation is that the rainbow family also does its best to care for these people while also setting clear boundaries for example no alcohol is allowed inside the gathering. I always feel safe and taken care of with my children. The majority of the rainbow family are healthy community loving people and many of them are involved in bigger services like aid relief and environmental protection. Because we have learned to set up kitchens quickly in the wilderness many of the camps have been able to offer disaster relief faster than the government.
There are also land stewardship practices that happen during the gathering like native seeding. Someone mentioned the appropriation of Lakota spiritual practices. This is something I am very sensitive to. I was raised in the carrizo/comecrudo way and I learned many Lakota songs and sat in lodges as a small child. I was also educated about the social/ political issues and really understand that a spirituality cannot be taken without the people. If you care for the practices you must care for the people. I know that many of my people don’t practice with that awareness but…
My people are a community of orphans. Most of us don’t know our history or our own spiritual lineage, and have never been on the land of our ancestors. We are hungry to connect with the creator like everyone else and we are on the land that these lessons came from. Isn’t it natural that we would feel called to burn sage and sing songs about the hawks? It is good for everyone to pray. The prayer brings more awareness and compassion.
I see how cultural and spiritual appropriation is disrespectful and harmful but I also see how the actual practices heal and rebalance everyone. This allows us to better ourselves and be more capable of treating all people and lands with more awareness. Rather than white people not singing sacred songs we should sing the songs with gratitude for the people who first sang them and educate ourselves about how to serve the interests of the native people. Thank you for reading and I welcome your comments and perspectives.