Dear Burning Man…

This video highlights the cultural appropriation issues, showing how some Burners really just don’t give a shit if some First Nations people are deeply offended by their antics.

Read the comments at Facebook…people are pretty upset about this. I’m not sure BMorg can take their usual approach of issuing a statement saying “we’ve listened to all of your concerns and we take them seriously”, then proceeding to do nothing whatsoever.

See also:

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

Dear White People, Standing Rock Is Not Burning Man

Standing Rock Coming To Black Rock

“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.

[Source]

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

Burner Artists Ripped Off by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj

You would think that top DJs could afford to pay for their art installations, instead of stealing them. David Guetta is the #2 highest paid DJ in the world ($30 million in 2014, so as big as Burning Man), and Nicki Minaj is #11 on the Forbes rappers list ($11 million in 2014), the only woman listed.

Maybe BMOrg’s IP policy made it all too hard. Rather than negotiating with all the lawyers, they just went to a set designer and said “make me this”.

Guetta appears with the art piece(s) and flame effects at about 2:20.

The official video for the song is definitely Burning Man themed:

Will they appear on the Playa this year, to perform their new hit?

From thump.vice.com (emphasis ours):

Did David Guetta and Nicki Minaj Steal From Burning Man for Their Billboard Music Awards Performance?

…Structures on stage with Guetta and Minaj nearly identical to those of a Burning Man art installation known as the HYBYCOZO series have prompted accusations the DJ and rapper stole someone else’s work.

“We received several calls in the evening telling on Sunday telling us to turn on the TV to watch the David Guetta performance because our design was popping up all over the stage,” designer Yelena Filipchuck tells THUMP. “It was so egregious that people who weren’t even that familiar with the project sent us messages asking us if we did the stage design!

Filipchuck and her design partner Serge Beaulieu debuted the HYBYCOZO installation at Burning Man after a successful Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2014. The series of steel-wrought, laser-cut, light-emitting geometrical structures went on to become one of the most photographed installations in the festival world after follow-up appearances at Treasure Island festival in San Francisco and Further Future outside of Las Vegas earlier this month.

HYBYCOZO, a contraction of Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone, features a number of different geometric permutations placed in conjunction, but in particular, the pentagonal dodecahedron (12-sided structure of five-sided panels) is the design that the designers suggest was pinched by Guetta and Minaj.

side by side hybocozo

Side by Side comparison. Image: Vice

“The size looks similar at six feet tall,” says Filipchuck. “The pattern attempts to be a copy, we zoomed in and the composition of the pattern matched exactly [a circle in a pentagon] on a grid of lines coming out of the corners. The shape itself even had the same thicker darker edges, glowing from the inside and matched the distinctive laser-cut repeating patterns that we are known for.”

Strengthening Filipchuck and Beaulieu’s intellectual property theft case is the more circumstantial evidence in the “Hey Mama” video, in which Guetta and Minaj galavant in distinctly Burning Man-themed scenes, replete with dusty post-apocalyptic revelers, art cars, and a stage setup commonly used at Burner spin-off events like Desert Hearts.

…”The part that hurts the most is that we are young artists doing festival art and stage design. Now it feels like anything we do will just be copied by one of these huge corporate teams,” Filipchuck adds. “If they wanted this aesthetic they should have contacted us to discuss the options rather than [create] what a appears to be blatant rip off of our art without our permission.”

Guetta enjoys burner vibes in the video for his and Minaj’s “Hey Mama”

Read the full story at Thump.

Over to you, BMOrg. You say that your IP policy is only there to protect artists and defend our culture: please go and defend our artists and our culture from these thieves.