Indians Promised “We Will Shut Down The Roads” – Now They Delivered [Updates]

Burning Man doesn’t even begin for another 5 days, but the chaos has already started.

By now you’ve probably heard that basically every single vehicle driving along the 447 near Nixon is being searched by the police, often with K-9 units.

The Reno Gazette-Journal had a story about it Burning Man Attendees Face Traffic Stops, Searches

Burning Man attendees face traffic stops, searches

Law enforcement officers from both the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe have been pulling over vehicles on their way to early Burning Man festivities in the Nevada desert. 

Bureau agents and tribal police were pulling over drivers passing through tribal land beginning last week and continuing this week. On Monday, about a half-dozen federal and tribal vehicles, some unmarked, were seen stopping vehicles primarily in Nixon, a tiny town halfway between Reno and the Burning Man site….There is one road, State Route 447, to and from the event; a large portion of that road goes through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s land

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council in the past month approved a memorandum of understanding that detailed the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ plans to have a law enforcement presence this year on the tribal land, according to tribal officials. The BIA  initially proposed the memorandum to the tribal police, which then presented the agreement to the council.

The tribe declined to provide the document, and the BIA has not responded to repeated calls for comment. It is unclear what the duration of the agreement is, and its purpose. 

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette Journal.

This is unprecedented in Burning Man history.

The RGJ for some reason did not make the connection between this new interference from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the cultural appropriation issues that were raised at the last Burning Man and through Burners’ involvement in the Standing Rock pipeline protests (see Dear Burners, Standing Rock is not Burning Man)

It was a really big story at the time, mostly in extremely heated social media discussions.

We Will Shut Down The Roads to Burning Man – Alarm at Cultural Appropriation

The Huffington Post had a suitably fawning puff piece on it – On Cultural Appropriation and Transformation at Burning Man – which sure looks like quickly produced damage control from the BMorg propaganda PR team. Then Caveat Magister hit the BJ with “Decommodification” and “Cultural Appropriation” – two great conversations that go great together. The usual self-congratulatory “we’re saving the world” stuff we’re used to from the official Voices of Burning Man.

What is it they say…“white man speak with forked tongue”? A couple of laissez-faire stories was not enough to put out this particular fire.

These people were seriously offended. Not just “hey fuck your fake headdress at Coachella” offended. More like “You have dishonored our ancestors and our entire tribe” offended.

Screenshot 2018-08-22 12.47.40

Read the rest of the comments here.

It sure looks like they made good on their threats. It is going to take a long, long time for the 80,000+ total participants to all make it into Black Rock City, if every single vehicle is getting searched. Be prepared.

Is this another case where the hundreds of year-round staff in San Francisco failed to pay sufficient respect to the objections of the local community? It might be far out in the desert, but Burning Man isn’t an island. It needs to be a net positive for everyone.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Org try to spin this to blame the Trump Administration rather than themselves. The proof will be in the pudding when Burning Man opens: is this treatment coming from all the Feds and cops, or just on the Indian territory?

[Update 8/22/18]

Statement from Burning Man. They are wondering why this is happening. They should read Burners.Me and they would know.

You might be wondering why this is all happening. So are we. We think the BIA’s efforts to target our community as we prepare for our annual gathering on public lands are misguided.

While BLM law enforcement has conducted aggressive traffic enforcement in past years on Gate Road in Black Rock City, this is the first time the Burning Man event has been targeted for an operation of this magnitude on public highways. The BIA stops appear to be pretextual and not based on actual violations of law.”

Predictably, many in the comments blame Trump. Only one person was brave enough to mention cultural appropriation (or maybe I caught their post before the censors did…)


The previous head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs abruptly resigned in April, for an unspecified reason – it looks like another #metoo situation. President Trump proposed a woman, Tara Sweeney, for the position, but her confirmation was held up. She took the helm last week, in near-secrecy.

The recommendation of the BIA to the Tribal Council about Burning Man happened before last Thursday, so President Trump’s appointment of a new BIA head does not explain the present situation.

Up until a week ago the acting head of BIA was Darryl LaCounte:  

The top official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs has resigned suddenly after serving just six months, and a Billings official will take over, the agency said Friday. 

The BIA confirmed to The Gazette on Friday that Bryan Rice, the agency’s director, resigned on April 24.

BIA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda informed agency employees by email Thursday, which BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling released Friday.

Darling did not give a reason for Rice’s departure. 

Darryl LaCounte, the regional BIA director based in Billings, will take over as acting BIA director.

“He is an experienced leader with vast organizational knowledge to maintain a smooth transition for our BIA employees and the tribal nations we serve,” Darling said of LaCounte in an emailed statement.

LaCounte started with the BIA in 1988 as an oil and gas specialist. He moved up through several positions in the Billings office and in 2014 became the Rocky Mountain regional director.

The exiting Rice, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, took over as director six months ago. He was previously a director of forest management for the U.S. Forest Service and a deputy director for the BIA’s Office of Trust Services.

[Source: Billings Gazette]

LaCounte is from Billings, Montana – where Republicans have won every election since 1996, and Trump won in 2016 with a 20% margin. Was LaCounte trying to make a big splash while he temporarily had the reins of power? Or was this a Machiavellian “Black Prince” situation, where someone was sent in to do the dirty work and be the “hated Prince”, only to then be replaced by the “good Prince?


[Update 8/23/18]

There are a bunch of threads at r/BurningMan with the latest updates on the Nixon situation.

The BJ comments had a conspiracy theory worth considering: that this is BIA revenge on the Paiute for bringing all those Burners to Standing Rock who disrespected the broader culture and caused concern amongst the LEO community:


21 comments on “Indians Promised “We Will Shut Down The Roads” – Now They Delivered [Updates]


    WASHINGTON – From May 15, 2018 through May 26, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) Opioid Reduction Task Force conducted a Criminal Interdiction Operation in and around Tribal reservations in Arizona, seizing 9,050 Fentanyl pills, 48.2 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.2 pounds of heroin, 863 pounds of marijuana, one-half pound of cocaine, and $30,000 in cash. In total, the drug bust yielded a seizure of 913.5 pounds of illegal narcotics, with a street value of approximately $4,791,417.00, and led to 86 total arrests. The operation in Arizona is the second led by Interior’s Joint Task Force, which Secretary Zinke established to help achieve President Donald Trump’s mission to end the opioid epidemic.

    This operation ran from April 3 to April 7, 2018, and was conducted at the following Pueblos around Albuquerque, New Mexico: Laguna, Sandia, Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Picuris, Santo Domingo, Pojoaque, Nambe, San Felipe, Tesuque, and Ohkay Owengah. The JTF conducted 304 traffic stops and 93 vehicle searches, issued 129 traffic citations, and arrested 11 subjects for drug possession.

  2. Awesome, Burners have learned about the rubbish police misconduct traveling to the playa, and on the playa. A mate penned

    Pretty sure we witnessed a bait event driving into nixon. Tractor and pickup pull on ahead of us.. going 5 mph. We noticed the driver was pretty much spotless, new cap, shirt, etc. They kept waving people to pass but the entire stretch is double yellow. No one in the stackup did. We were behind them until, suprise surprise, they pull into the nixon police center.

    My belief is some police stops in Nixon, and in the service entrance to Burning Man, of rockstar RVs last week, found some drugs, the police might publish it soon. Within 2015, a prior Pershing County, and Washoe County, or Reno, LEO, whom was driving RVs to the playa commodification camps the week prior of Burning Man, posted of that he was most proud of reporting marijuana smoke, from a van in front of him, to the police, whom busted the van. My belief is, might he still drive commodification camp RVs to the playa, or his mates, proudly narced on another RV, or two.

    My belief remains of the drug dogs within nixon, perchance, going to the playa also, are trained to smell marijuana, cocaine, heroin, opiates, methamphetamine, and mushrooms. The difficulties are in regards of the drug dogs alert might a Burner, or their mates, have legally smoked marijuana in the prior weeks, and the drug dogs alert on the legal marijuana smell upon the clothes. This must be most confusing to the dogs, and to the police, when the police toss everything onto the side of the road, the drug dogs alert to near to everything, in despite of it being a legal smell.

  3. Pingback: Sheriff Spat Escalates: “Misinformation” | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. The article you might want to read is here:

    Trump is trying to solve the opiate/opioid crisis. In Nixon. Some irony.

    “Driving through Nixon, Nev. has allegedly slowed as police are searching vehicles heading to Burning Man that may have drugs on board.

    Opiates in particular, according to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Secretary Brenda Henry.

    “If you don’t have anything to hide, you’re good to go,” Henry told ThisisReno.

    She said that officers are following direction from “the top” — the U.S. Department of the Interior down through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to crack down on drugs.

    “You mean from President Trump?” I asked.

    “Yes,” she said and then deferred further questions to tribal police.

    Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s chief of police did not return a call for comment by the time of publication.”

    • God Emperor Trump is all powerful and all knowing, this is true. However he has more important shit to deal with than cracking down on Burning Man via a temporary employee in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    • By appearances, the drug dogs are most confused, the jack booted thugs police in Nixon are throwing all the stuff packed in Burner vehicles, RVs, and U-Hauls onto the side of the highway for the dogs to go through it, while the police are intimidating the Burners to tell them where is the marijuana, the dogs are having difficulty finding it.

      Might the difficulties be in due of Burners legally smoking marijuana in their homes in Nevada and California, and the smoke being in their clothing, and they touch all their stuff, thus might the drug dogs alert on everything? Burners, there is a rationale to always state ‘I do not consent to a search’ and record the police.

  5. Here you go, guys. I just personally called Nevada Highway Patrol dispatch in Carson City. Was connected to a Trooper and asked the question–he didn’t know off the top of his head and referred me to the Nevada Law Library. Here is what I found: “License plates must at all times be securely fastened to the vehicle so as to prevent the plate from swinging and at a height not less than 12 inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of such plate, in a place and position to be clearly visible. It must be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible.

    License plate specifications call for plates to be readable from a distance of 100 feet during daylight. At night, plates must be readable from 110 feet when lit by standard headlights. Rear plates must display a decal with the month and year of expiration. (NRS 482.270)

  6. Here you go, guys. I just personally called Nevada Highway Patrol dispatch in Carson City. Was connected to a Trooper and asked the question–he didn’t know off the top of his head and referred me to the Nevada Law Library. Here is what I found: “License plates must at all times be securely fastened to the vehicle so as to prevent the plate from swinging and at a height not less than 12 inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of such plate, in a place and position to be clearly visible. It must be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible.

    License plate specifications call for plates to be readable from a distance of 100 feet during daylight. At night, plates must be readable from 110 feet when lit by standard headlights. Rear plates must display a decal with the month and year of expiration. (NRS 482.270)

  7. Im a Tribal member, and this article is absolutely absurd. In all the years that this event has gone on out here, tribal folks & burners have had a fairly peaceful coexistence. Yes, there was a bit of online controversy in Indian Country after videos showed a supposed spiritual gathering within the burn gone wrong, and our culture was mocked. But the folks that were the most vocal weren’t even from around here. Thats all it was, was a bit of online trolling.
    You folks don’t seem to realize, the boundarys within our reservation land are under Federal jurisdiction. The Bureau of Indian Affairs falls underneath the Department of Interior. Now if this were a chart of command, the person at the top is The President.
    In Nevada outside of the reservation, the state is nowvMedical and Recreational legal…but cross that invisible line, and you’ve stepped into a bullshit zone. Federal Law supercedes Nevada State laws.
    So don’t be so quick to believe everything you read…yeah alternative facts…smh.

    • The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the Department of Interior, so is the Bureau of Land Management. FACT

      This has never happened before: FACT

      The document that led to it happening has not been released to the public: FACT

      Members of other tribes (NOT Paiute who have a long standing relationship with Burning Man) were invited to BM last year with the promise of introducing them to Burner culture by way of apology for the “Standing Rock is Not Burning Man” situation: FACT

      There was outrage at the cultural appropriation during the main ceremony: FACT

      The only “alternative fact” that I can see here is WHY is this happening? I say “surely it is related”. You say “there’s no way it’s related, it’s just a big coincidence”.

      Your alternative fact is that this is a direct order down the chain of command from the President. What is your evidence for that? Don’t you think Trump has bigger things on his mind than messing with Burning Man through the Bureau of Indian Affairs? Why wouldn’t he just send DEA?

      • Much obliged for you putting me on moderation, burnersxxx. Some other rubbish,

        The BMOrg screwed over numerous volunteers, they did not keep their promise of tickets in due of their volunteer labours within 2017. Many Burners are learning of this solely upon their arriving at the playa. By appearances, the BMOrg oversold tickets more than the usual this burn, and the BLM changed the rules. My belief is the Burners should go to a judge to require of the BMOrg to honour their promises.

        The Burning Man 2018 BLM Permit states the usual rubbish of they are of the ability to shut down Burning Man for social unrest, and disorderly conduct is not permitted. Different within 2018 is the BLM forced the BMOrg to separate the Orgy Dome adult camps from Kidsville, and all estimated levies, as calculated by the BLM, are to be paid to the BLM prior to the event. Also, there are many statements in regards of the BLM is requiring of the BMOrg to detail the cash the Plug and Play camps pay in levies to the BMOrg, my belief is of this number will be available might any reporter, or Burner, pen a Freedom of Information request after the burn. Also, there are many new statements in regards of the BMorg has to notify the BLM of the details in regards of Film Productions, and Photo Shoots, upon the playa. I am most curious of what might be occurring in these regards, might there be Burning Man ™ branded films, in joint ventures with whomever, occurring?

        The BLM states of all fuel must be placed within secondary safety containers, and the jack booted thugs BLM is permitted to enter camps to inspect the fuel. The BLM, and their jack booted thugs police had difficulties entering most camps priorly, without an Burner inviting them in.

        • And, a good article upon Burning Man not desiring a free press. Media Mecca requires of reporters to apply months prior of the burn, and state their proposal for what article they will pen, and the Borg approves, or does not approve, their proposed articles. Photos of Burning Man are not permitted to be published might the reporters, and their articles, not be approved by the Borg.

    • Jenny Jennifer Kane has an update ‘Feds on traffic stops: It’s not about Burning Man. It’s about drugs.’

      It is most humorous the BIA states of it has nothing to do with Burning Man. I am most curious, might a Burner challenge the citations, and arrests, in court, is it a U.S. Federal Court, or is it an Indian court? My belief it is not a Nevada court, in due of the five hundred dollar citations for marijuana, marijuana is not illegal within Nevada, it is illegal solely upon U.S. federal, and Indian, land. Whom gains the hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines, the Paiute Tribe? Many members of the Paiute Tribe must be most pissed at their tribal council, in due of the boycott from Burners in backlash of this rubbish. The BIA spokeswoman stated the Opioid Task Force is Department of the Interior, she did not state it was BIA. Might the Opioid Task Force go to the playa next week with their Department of the Interior BLM mates?

      Federal authorities insist that traffic stops taking place south of the Burning Man event site have nothing to do with Burning Man; rather they are an effort to crack down on a nationwide opioid epidemic on tribal lands.

      “It has nothing to do with Burning Man. That;s not it. It’s a serious problem that Indian Country has, that the country has. This is an opportunity to help the tribe,” said Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs…

      Since late last week, both BIA and tribal police from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe have been pulling over dozens of vehicles passing through tribal lands on State Rout 447, the only main road to and from the Burning Man event site.

      The Bureau of Indian Affairs has not been involved in enforcing the law in years past, but BIA officers in partnership with tribal officers have been stopping vehicles for minor infractions … Law enforcement officers are also searching the vehicles, sometimes with K9 units.

      The effort is part of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Opioid Reduction Task Force, …

      The operation’s overlap with peak Burning Man activity is coincidental, Darling said, though she did not know exactly why the task force chose to conduct the operation during this period. The date likely worked for both the task force and the tribe, she said.

      “We’ve had lots of tribes reach out to us to do this, and if they don’t want to do it, they can decline. We are doing this in partnership with the tribe, not just going in there on our own,” Darling said.

      The Bureau spoke with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe a while back, Darling said, and tribal authorities decided they would like to take part. Several weeks ago, the tribal council approved the agreement, …

      Burning Man Organizers called the law enforcement operation aggressive, unconstitutional and unnecessary on Tuesday

      • Welcome back ABP

        “it’s a coincidence, we don’t know why!”…yeah, right

        I hope we are able to get the statistics on the drug haul from this operation. This story confirms my update that the Trump appointed head of BIA Tina Sweeney is not responsbile for this, “the Bureau spoke with [the] Tribe a while back”.

        • Not quite back, add one_why to his list of many names.

          My belief is of all sides are at fault. Many jack booted thugs within the U.S. government are fighting the War on Drugs, and the War on Marijuana, the Pauite Tribe council are rightfully pissed in due of the many manners of which you stated, and desires the cash from the busts, and they did not expect what is occurring, or the backlash, and the BMOrg is the BMOrg, and the seventy percent newbie, or second year Burners, speed through Nixon and Wadsworth.

  8. Not every single vehicle is being stopped. That is hyperbole. Many people that I know have made it to the playa throughout this week without incident.

  9. Highway 447 is just that: a public highway. The “urinating in your desert” comment is bullshit. It’s public land. Almost NO ONE even went out to the middle of the playa before Burning Man started, and as you know, it’s the cleanest event of its size on the planet, and the event footprint is a fraction of the total area of the playa. I agree, more needs to be done about trash on the highway, and putting porta potty stations along 447 isn’t a bad idea. The event is a huge economic boon to Empire, Gerlach and the reservation, the trade off is a lot of traffic for 2 weeks out of the year on a public road.

    Of course, BMORG should work with the local towns, and you know they have, pouring quite a lot of money into various projects and charitable organizations. I just don’t have much sympathy for shakedowns.

  10. Trump is already getting the blame on BMorg’s journal comments section, and they really hate the Indians. Last year there was talk of completely blocking the road to the site with old cars, and they were serious. Maybe that will happen this year.

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