“We Will Shut Down The Roads To Burning Man” – Alarm at Cultural Appropriation

BMorg were very proud that Standing Rock Water Protectors were attending this year, staying at the Red Lightning Camp. There was a big vision to unite the world’s tribes in the world’s biggest drum circle.

From Standing Rock to Black Rock – Unite with us as One Global Family for what may become the world’s largest synchronized drum circle. Hundreds of locations will Unify and tune into a live drum circle prayer broadcast from Red Lighting located at the heart of the Burning Man playa and amplified by the Mayan Warrior. Indigenous Wisdom Keepers will be at the center of this prayer leading the drum circle and uniting the world into one global heartbeat.

The idea may have backfired, with reports that some of the Water Protectors (indigenous leaders) were deeply offended by the drug abuse and cultural appropriation they witnessed: so much so that they have threatened to shut Burning Man down.

[Source: Facebook]

Here’s the link for the interview. There is quite a bit more discussion in the Burning Man Update at Digital Smoke Signals

This is the video (Part 1, Part 2) where Myron Dewey of Digital Smoke Signals first shared his overall impressions of Burning Man, saying that people should not bring children there and that the experience was perhaps similar to what his ancestors felt going to Washington DC for the first time.

BMorg has previously asked people not to wear headdresses and war bonnets, but they are not banned as they are at many festivals.


Powwows.com has more specifics:

People across Indian country found themselves raising their eyebrows and scratching their heads as a viral Facebook video began making its way through pow wow circles everywhere.

Image: powwows.com

Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably heard that there was a “powwow” held at the Burning Man festival hosted by none other than Standing Rock’s own attorney Chase Iron Eyes and his drum group…

In the video, Chase begins to explain his intentions with a comment that didn’t sit well with some Natives.

“We are all Indigenous, we need to transcend, and one way to do that is through the drum.”

Here’s that Facebook post. Apparently there is a satire video of this going around, anyone got a link for it?

Chase Iron Eyes explained himself

He spoke in his defense:

“Couple few things about Burning Man:

  1. I was not paid to go to Burning Man
  2. No one sold ceremony. [Please. BMorg sold Radical Ritual ceremony for up to $1200 a ticket- Ed.]
  3. I don’t do drugs or alcohol.
  4. We didn’t sing “going to a powwow.” That was a clever edit. Indigenous people came to share in good faith.
  5. I, along with others, went there to share the message of Water Protectors, to elevate this struggle, their current criminalization, into other platforms, and to share our truths.


Some facts and now some thoughts I hope you share with your network about my statements that “all are Indigenous.”

Everyone is Indigenous. All descend from the sacred waters, the land, the cosmos. Everyone has been subjected to the same forces of separation, abstraction, division. Spirit separated from mind, heart from intellect, being separated from relationships with food source, from relations with the waters, the star nations, from covenants with the sacred sites. All anyone has to do is go back far enough and there is a time when you were connected to the sacred.

Colonial forces asserted “dominion” over Mother Earth, over the older beings, the animals, the winged, and so forth. These forces declared themselves “superior”, instituted currency, the logic & institutions of capital, private property, the nation state, extraction. They are the purveyors of patriarchy, pop culture, of cool, of fashion, of beauty, of advertising and so forth. They are now the sources of this separation, fear, hate & division, from which we seek a liberation.

To liberate the spirit, to transcend the limits of body, language & perceived differences of race, religion is to take part in a great awakening, one which is evolving, which will compel us to civilize ourselves with divine order, to unite ourselves with the universe. Then our institutions of law, economy, energy, media, education and so for can reflect humanity’s pursuit of liberation and that of Mother Earth’s, more importantly because we will be morally and spiritually authorized to create that reality. We won’t let vampires destroy our planet.

Cultural appropriation is wrong, yes. Original Nations have survived genocide, slavery, holocaust, and an ongoing genocide, an ongoing deliberate attempt to undermine our dignity, liberation & self determination. For foreigners to prance around in a headdress is wrong. I have lived my life confronting objectification when I first learned of it at 19 years old from the Association of American Indian Psychology. I will continue to confront it and I thank those who fight that fight. Natives confronted people at Burning Man in teachable moments.


Whimn.com.au had some other examples of cultural appropriation by supermodels and fashion designers:

The tribal elders want these ladies banned from Burning Man. YMMV.
Huffington Post had some further thoughts.

Upon leaving the playa where there is no cell service, we arrived back in civilization to see social media on fire with the conversation about cultural appropriation. There was much ugliness and ridicule, as is common on social media, but for those genuinely interested in understanding what happened the information is available. Yes the issue of cultural appropriation was with us at Burning Man as it is with us outside of Burning Man. It is being addressed and all the conversations are part of that healing when people conduct themselves with respect.

Many have entitled themselves to say what is a “real Indian”, what is a “real ceremony”, what is a “real prayer”, what is a “real culture”, and each is welcome to their opinions. We all have a choice to be guided by a desire for healing and come from a place of love, or allow ourselves to fall into the division, anger, and hatred that is also part of humanity’s cultural heritage. Burning Man is a microcosm of humanity. It is important to remember that there is a deep wound and the anger about cultural appropriation needs to be heard if it is to be healed. Any path forward to unity will have to account for and include letting go of the wounds of the past. How do we reconcile?

It’s not just cultural appropriation; apparently there is a problem with gender dynamics and too many beautiful people as well.

Paris Hilton made an effort to be culturally appropriate while looking fabulous

So Indian head-dresses are a cultural faux pas…what about Viking Horns?

Image: NY Post

38 comments on ““We Will Shut Down The Roads To Burning Man” – Alarm at Cultural Appropriation

  1. Pingback: Indians Promised “We Will Shut Down The Roads” – Now They Delivered | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe…….received basically Zero Dollars from BurningMan Organization or its particpants.

    Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe PLPT ALLOWS Burning Man to happen.

    Q: What benefit does the PLPT receive for allowing 2 months of heavy equipment, construction equipment, and “Burners” trespassing into the reservation to be used as their own personal toilet, to have RV’s dump septic tanks along the SR4777?

    Q: Give an opinion here:
    How about 100,000 people traveling thru YOUR back yard for 2 weeks enroute to Black Rock City, along the only highway available SR447.

    Would you be in favor of proper toilet facilities along the highway paid for by BurningMan as THE RIGHT THING TO DO, or allow100,000 strangers to urinate in your desert?

    Wait here is more:
    BurningMan Org is “kind enough” to ALLOW the PLPT to take out the trash for
    $5/ bag.
    Hey we are having a big party in the desert, you PLPT people, you are not invited, but you can take out our trash!

    Makes no fucking sense

    BurningMan offers a slight discount to PLPT members to attend BurningMan.
    How about FREE for the enrolled Tribal members?
    IT COSTS BMorg ZERO $$, to give away tickets to the event for PLPT members.(Remember, Burning Man is a NON-PROFIT 501C3)

    THE PLPT receives about $100,000 for the Tribal Police to provide 24 hour/day service during the 7 days of entry and exodus.
    Sorry, but that is the “Cost of doing Business” whether it is in Denver, San Diego, Santa Monica, or Boston.
    There is NO benefit to theTribe to allow BurningMan.

    The $100,000 is BurningMans’ “Cost of doing Business” and is 100% Tax write-off.
    Burning Man makes money with ticket sales, but BMorg earns a lot of income, because of their NON-PROFIT Status.

    All of your opinions are accepted

    • Great comment, thanks. Even aside from cultural appropriation issues, there are basic issues of trashing the environment and sanitation. Of course, never addressed by Burning Man organization. They’d rather spend the budget on international junkets to TED talks and other festivals.

  3. Wow. Just WOW. Burnt Man is really moving far afield from my Burning Man.

    SO, NOW: you gather in the desert, around an electrified chain link fence, to watch the burning of an effigy of all that is wrong, making judgments, handing out guilt, shame and PC violations. I am looking forward to next year…

    BUFFALO SOLDIER CAMP. This will celebrate the black soldiers who helped clear the west of Native Americans and make it safe for heathen whites. Black face will be provided, as well as bows and arrows for visitors to shoot the camp participants.

    TURKEY SCHOOL BUS. Follow the modern teachings of the schools in Turkey! Cruse BRC and condemn those that do not comply. Burkas required for all women. (Black trash bags will be provided as needed.)

    THOMAS JEFFERSON CAMP. Bring your nickels and $2 bills. Special camp urinals will be filled with the nickels. The $2 bills will be burned to light only Cuban cigars, or used to procure services from the BUNNYRANCH CAMP. (Warning: Buffalo nickels will be taken to the Buffalo Soldier Camp.)

    ANTIFA PROTECTION BUS. Patrol and defend BRC from PC violations and any attempts at unapproved speech. Will regularly run past the Sanctuary Camp for bell-ringers, and the Buffalo Soldier Camp for stragglers. Black masks and clubs will be provided. Admission by “courtesy” passes; contact your local communist party.

    PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE CAMP. Lattes will be served but everyone is expected to boycott the camp. Violators subject to Antifa Protection, and intestinal gas.

    SANCTUARY CAMP. As before, this will be the last refuge of those who are in BRC without a ticket or now with cultural misappropriation garb. Bells will be provided to ring for absolution. Kevlar vests suggested.


    I only have two requests, other than to stay out of my time zone:

    1. Please have the event more often, say once a month. This will make better continuing use of the airport infrastructure, and provide more opportunities for ingress/egress shut down protests.

    2. Please restore the old BM tradition of the free use of guns on the playa.


    Have fun, kids!

  4. Check out these videos from Natives who went to BM this year

    Chase Iron Eyes at the Red Lightning thing, which is led by non-Indians. Chase is not the lawyer for Standing Rock, by the way. He is a lawyer, but he is not employed by the tribe and not currently in good standing with the tribe:

    Some Native journalists and artists attended independently and made this report:

    This Native hip hop artist signed on to perform on main stage, but organizers kept changing the deal on him. When he got there he and the other Natives were put on parade as tokens at the fake ceremonies:

    While pretendian drumming and shouting happened at Burning Man, allegedly to “spread the word” about water protectors and Standing Rock, back at the actual water protector camp in Cheyenne River, the actual water protectors were being honored in traditional ways. This is what two elders have to say Burning Man, after they watched all of the above videos and took some time to stop crying and gather their thoughts:


    •  They are on BLM land in the black rock desert, see their Special Use Permit which states they can not errect any structure here…Maybe they shouldn’t be building a wicker man.


      They say they are non-profit organized by the Burning Man Project, a non-profit organization that, in 2014, succeeded a for-profit limited liability company (Black Rock City, LLC) that was formed in 1997 to represent the event’s organizers, and is now considered a subsidiary of the non-profit organization.

      I also want to address the wearing of our headdress, they are traditionally worn by male leaders of Tribes who have earned a place of great respect in their Tribe. Originally they were sometimes worn into battle, but they are now primarily used for ceremonial occasions. They are seen as items of great spiritual and political importance, only to be worn by those who have earned the right and honour through formal recognition by their People.

      When people wear it at Burning Man it is seen as a form of desecration, the headdress is a cultural element that has deep meaning to our original culture. Burning Man has reduced it to exotic fashion. Respect our culture and leave it out of Burning Man.

      Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…

  6. I think what was so offensive was the lucid attempt to recreate Standing Rock at Burning Man, talk of bringing the sacred fire from Standing Rock to Burning Man in the form of radical rituals…is there anything sacred at Burning Man? Talk of ceremonial drumming connected around the world…they were dancing to the beat of a different drum, not ours. We want our ceremonies and songs kept in their true meanings, not contorted into some type of pagan ritual.

    Article 31 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

    Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

    I believe that the temple and man that you burn is Satanic, people need to research before they go to Burning Man. I wouldn’t be caught dead there…

  7. Pingback: BURNILEAKS: The Lucifer Cover-Up | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  8. A ritual, done for the right reasons, cannot be harmed, cannot lose its power, by another person doing something out of ignorance. It is more dangerous to the human spirit to limit the breadth self expression than it is risk some kids wearing feathers out of ignorance. The powers that be love this argument. Right now the public argument is about what a bunch of kids are wearing to festivals rather than the continued systematic abuse of native peoples.

  9. Just a bunch of white people trying to be Native something they can never be. These white people are so ashamed of themselves they try to take everything that is not theirs. Was our land not enough? Just to let you people know, you can never be Native! Do you realize how stupid you look or do you just not care you are so pathetic!

  10. Those aren’t Viking horns anymore… douche horns is a better description. On a rich elitist burner no less, who has no clue what he’s doing. But he looks good right?! Those people will never learn, they are totally L-A-M-E!

  11. Y’all just don’t get it nor understand what you are doing and taking away from the “indigenous peoples/native Americans”… there is a protocol, ritual and spirituality that goes with the each feather, leather piece, bead and paint mark on an individual. And then it travels into a circle of drummers/singers, that bring the dance forth, that celebrate what is happening.
    For some “white-skin” to just throw on a chiefs war-bonnet, without knowledge and cause…is literally just being an ignorant naïf don’t no care idiot.
    Native American Indians or First People, have MANY traditions, rituals and protocols…it means something! EVERY feather, drum beat, bead, leather piece and dance move, has a meaning…it’s not just “fluff” and show.
    I am a “white-woman”, but I have been accepted by local tribesmen, because I respect everything that they are about and I honor them and their culture. It’s not something that I take lightly!!!! I cherish each and every person that I have made a true connection with. And I try to live my life in the way of their beliefs.
    I truly just wish that some of you would get it and not just parade these rituals around so callously.

    • I used to play ‘Cowboys & Indians’ when I was a little girl. I was always the Indian and died every time. My brothers were assholes. So I totally understand where you’re coming from.

  12. Pingback: Dear Burning Man… | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  13. Done.


    September 22-24, 2017
    This was outstanding last year. You get to chat with the artists in their studios, usually with drinks served, sometimes free.

    At the same time, this event is happening…

    September 23-24, 2017
    Should be good.

    We are looking to set up our camp there.

    Both are free.

        • I am calling for environmentalists…

          I am concerned about the Special Recreational Use Permit that is given to Burning Man every year.  I see the fire as a Trespass Fire, tied to human activity.  How is Burning Man allowed to erect their “Wicker Man” and burn it, when the Special Recreational Use Permit states you cannot erect a structure on public lands?

          The Nevada Fire and Aviation Program, which focuses on public safety as its top priority, consists of fire suppression, and yet Burning Man is allowed to have a huge bonfire, which claimed a man’s life and it should have been reported within 24 hours.  The fire poses a threat to public safety, and fire safety of the habitat of endangered species in the area.

          San Joaquin kit fox, 1990 population was estimated to be 7,000. This subspecies is still endangered, after nearly 50 years of being on the Endangered Species List.  The population can be found in the Black Rock desert and continues to decline mostly due to heavy habitat loss, which is worsened by the heavy traffic of burners going to Burning man.  The northernmost part of its range is the arid interior of Oregon. Its eastern limit is southwestern Colorado. It can be found through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas.  The convergence of 70,000 people into the habitat could also harm golden eagles and desert tortoises. The BLM agencies have not adequately analyzed the impacts to federally protected species.

          I am requesting an investigation of the permit for Burning Man and the fire that gets bigger every year, as it is a matter of public safety and fires should be suppressed.  See the attached video of what Burning Man really is…


          Your consideration in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  14. DAMN, this has gone too far! APPROPRIATE EVERYTHING, Dude!!!!! Where did any so-called ‘justice warrior’ (really think about that name) get it in their bonnet that dressing up is wrong? FREEDOM means you can dress as anything within legal bounds (crass nudity in front of kids is not okay).

    TAKE OFF YOUR SELF-IMPOSED STRAIGHT-JACKETS! Dreadlocks? DO IT! Feathers in the hair? DO IT! Cultures are to be Celebrated, not Owned!

    • I am thinking of showing up to BM 2018 in a rebal flag outfit for “radical expression” as a social experiment or do thing It poses a risk of being thrown into the fire?

  15. I’ve read that feathers are something you must earn..all these people can be seen as disrespectful just because of that. Psh..paris hilton..really?

  16. Once again the Native American GET USED. Burning man was a bad idea. I have also seen video of Native American drum circles supporting ATIFA rallies for the left. Pretty sad site

  17. Burning Man now is a culture of appropriation. It’s mostly people dressing up pretending to be happy anarchists for a week, appropriating the cultural aesthetic created by the original attendees who were actually happy anarchists and lived that lifestyle off the playa. They’re mostly gone now and onto other things.

    The new Burners also pretends to be super friendly. But the minute they get in their vehicles to go home, they take that mask off.

    Banning feathers might help to keep the roads open one more year. But the new Burners don’t care and will hide their headdresses going through the gate. Then you’ll need 10x the number of BRC Rangers to confiscate them on the playa and put them where?

    It’s a hipster tailgate party in the desert. Blocking the road before the event would be funny, but even funnier during exodus.

  18. I know I dressed in a toga with Mardi Gras beads with a silver headband. I never even thought of how that would cause the defendants of Roman principalities could have suffered at the sight, let alone Mardi Gras drunks…

  19. No type of costume will (or should) ever be banned at Burning Man, but it would be really helpful if the Org would encourage and reempower staff to not only stop the flow of feathers into Black Rock City but also treat them as contraband when found inside.

    Per section A(6) of the closure order, “The discharge of any and all trash/litter or matter out of place onto the ground/playa surface is prohibited.” This provision allows the BLM to ticket (or even prosecute) MOOPers. Would be nice to see some enforcement there. Also, if federal LEO have probable cause to believe that a costume piece contains any protected eagle feathers, they could seize both the piece and the person wearing it pending further investigation.

    At least a man can dream.

    There are obviously many ways to misappropriate Native American culture without using feathers, but getting rid of feathers would certainly point the sparkle-faux indigenous and their fashion designers in new creative directions.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see all of that beauty and talent be used for fresh and new ideas?

    • “Wouldn’t it be great to see all of that beauty and talent be used for fresh and new ideas?”

      Not likely until the “popular” attendance drops and Burnt Man returns to the Burning Man roots.

      “At least a man can dream.”

  20. I have been going to the Black Rock Desert since 1979 and the past I have seen many people dressed as natives that are not and it is an inappropriate and I will speak against that because I am half Paiute and half Czechoslovakian and I do not believe that people should be terrorizing our culture and is a native it is difficult enough to be in the United States after being robbed tortured lied by the government is very bad at Burning Man people don’t understand dressing like a native is wrong. What is taught in school is not the truth on history with the United States government and Indian tribes in the United States of America.

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