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.
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.
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?
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?
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: