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.

https://journal.burningman.org/2018/08/news/official-announcements/statement-on-police-activity-on-the-road-to-brc/

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…)

[Source: burningman.org]

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:

[Source: burningman.org]

Burning Man Now Starts at 00:01

bm line

BMOrg have announced a change to the gate opening time. It’s now  12:01am Sunday August 28. Unfortunately Burners who do manage to beat the traffic and get in before the “official” opening time of 6pm are now expected to put Civic Responsibility ahead of Immediacy, Radical Self-Expression, and Radical Self-Reliance.

Here’s what they said:

In a move designed to alleviate the crush of traffic on Gate Road at the start of the event, Burning Man and the Bureau of Land Management have agreed to begin allowing vehicles to enter Black Rock City at 12:01 am Sunday, August 28.

The official start of the event is still 6 pm Sunday. We’re asking everyone to use the extra time to focus on getting your camp set up, and to refrain from getting your freak on until the official start Sunday evening.

Keep in mind traffic on Highway 447 is heaviest in the early afternoon and evening. (Think about it: You wake up, grab a leisurely breakfast, do some last minute shopping and then hit the road — just like 49,999 other people who show up on Sunday and Monday!)

Help us help you by timing your arrival “off peak”. We promise a good time will be had by all (starting at 6 pm Sunday).

I say, let your freak flag fly! It’s Burning Man, FFS. “Official start”…who writes this stuff? What, is a horn going to sound or something…”now, Burning Man can begin! You may leave your camps, go forth and be freaky!”

Image: Eric Cheng

Image: Eric Cheng

Traffic Man 2015: Entry Pain For Thousands

Traffic this year appears to have been among the worst ever.

From Voices of Burning Man:

We are experiencing significant traffic delays due to slow vehicles on Highway 447. Estimated delays are up to 8 hours to reach Gerlach from Wadsworth. We recommend participants wait in Reno or elsewhere for several hours until the congestion is cleared.

For your own safety, if you’re stopped on Highway 447, please remain in your vehicle. And do not park on the shoulder of Interstate 80 — find an off ramp and park on a side road.

We will update this message with new information as soon as it becomes available.

You can also hear updates by tuning in to BMIR or by following @bmantraffic on Twitter.

[UPDATE: 8/31/15 2:00am]

At this time, the drive from Wadsworth to Gerlach is taking about 5 1/2 hours. Stay safe out there!

 

Once you get to Gerlach, it takes hours to get to the 8-mile entrance, and hours more to get to the Gate. The good news is right now, it’s “only” about 3 hours from Wadsworth all the way to the gate.

The “pulsing” system was used for cars on the way in, leaving large areas of gap with no cars in them, while many stayed still for up to 2 hours before moving forward as little as 500 feet.

Last night, there was an 8 hour plus wait even to get to Gerlach.

Even in the 140-character Twitter format, BMOrg couldn’t just report the facts about this situation. They had to put a spin on, one that absolved themselves of any responsibility by placing the blame on others. In this case, vehicles moving too slowly were responsible. I mean, really?

BMIR, on the other hand, was saying that the delay was due to people getting out of their cars. Sure, just sit still in your car for 12 hours while BMOrg sorts the gate out.

Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.47.25

Burners were not invited to resume their journey until 5:30am Monday

Burner Jerrod put together this graph:

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Here are some of the statistics from 2014, which link arrival and departure time to hours of travel:

2014 arrival times

2014 departure times[Source: Reddit, compiled from @bmantraffic hourly updates]

For many Burners last year, once they got to the Gate they had a long wait ahead of them, because Burning Man was unexpectedly closed due to rain.

Another Burner compiled this list of Exodus times from 2011-2013, based on information from Reddit.

2011 to 2013 exodus times

[Source: Reddit]

The RGJ brings us some highway safety information from the Nevada Highway Patrol:

Burners Leave Hazardous Objects on Roadways

Every year, several drivers crash because of unusual objects that fall on the roadways, NHP Trooper Duncan Dauber said Sunday.

“(The Interstate 80) will be a real mess during the week,” Dauber said. “Drivers should watch out for very odd things from tricycles to couches to mattress and bags of trash.

“Almost every year there are accidents.”

Dauber said Burners tend to drive vehicles that are oversized and carrying large objects that aren’t tied down properly.

“When they pack everything they pack it nice and neat, but when they leave they accumulate trash and maybe don’t have extra cables to strap things down,” Dauber said.

“When they’re leaving, they’re extremely exhausted, and they’ve been out on the sun for a week, and it’s time for them to leave, so they don’t pack everything as tight as they should.”

Dauber said I-80 westbound between Fernley and Reno usually is a hot spot for fallen objects. The Nevada Highway Patrol often receive multiple calls every year of debris falling off vehicles, he said.

“Even though most people are already at Burning Man, some people still continue to flow through there,” Dauber said.

[Source: RGJ]

Burners tried to make the most of it all and keep morale high. The picture being painted on social media was a little more grim than from BMOrg’s description.

https://twitter.com/annekejong/status/638244160114311168/photo/1

Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.16.32Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.35.46Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.09.05Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.15.07Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.10.33Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.11.34Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.13.02Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.41.46Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.34.50Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.14.01

big backpack

In other news, Burners got some celebrity shout-outs on Social Media. We doubt any of them are stranded in traffic.

View this post on Instagram

Here Goes #BurningMan

A post shared by Susan Sarandon (@susansarandon) on

 

Burning Man Pays For More Cops

The Reno Gazette Journal reports that Burning Man will be spending an additional $105,000 this year so that Washoe County can have more police officers on the road, looking to arrest protect Burners. There is no legal requirement for them to do this, but they have agreed to it on the request of the BLM.

Burning Man organizers have agreed to pay the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office up to $105,000 for the cost of increasing patrols in the northern reaches of the county during the week-long counterculture celebration in the Black Rock Desert.

The Washoe County Commission approved the contract Tuesday, which continues the voluntary commitment by Black Rock City, LLC to share the cost of the law enforcement demands created by more than 65,000 event participants.

Washoe deputies aren’t responsible for law enforcement activities at the event, which is held just across the county line in Pershing County and is jointly patrolled by the Bureau of Land Management and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office.

But the influx of 65,000 people to the sparsely populated corner of the county means more work conducting patrols and traffic control near Gerlach and on the roads leading to the event.

Under the contract, the sheriff’s office will use the money to pay for the salaries of additional deputies needed in the area, as well as their lodging, daily food expenses and vehicle cost reimbursements.

According to the contract, no state law or local ordinance requires the sheriff’s office to be reimbursed for the costs. But Burning Man as part of its agreement with the BLM agreed to help Washoe County with its law enforcement costs.

[Source: RGJ]

No word yet on if they get to eat the chocotacos, or if those are VIP wristband-only.

I Heart The Eye In The Sky

we be jammin'!

we be jammin’!

Traffic is one of the biggest nightmares at Burning Man. When you finally arrive at the tiny town of Gerlach, Nevada – your last place to stock up on gas and supplies before you hit the Playa – you still have a wait of many hours ahead of you before you get into the event. You will sit in a long line of vehicles in a single lane heading to the event, there is no need to overtake because you’re all going to be waiting for a long time once you get there. Once you turn off the blacktop and onto the dust, you are still miles and hours away from Burning Man. There is a separate area for Will Call, I suggest you keep right if you need to go there but you don’t have to. You have to make it past the inspection checkpoint (people boarding your vehicle and searching it, they won’t search for your drugs, but there are police with drug sniffer dogs walking outside vehicles parked in the line), past the greeters (people making newbies ring a bell and roll in the dust), slowly drive along the access road to the city, then find your camp. Pro tip: the higher the letter of the road, the longer it takes to drive along it. So if you’re camped at 10 & D, it will be faster to drive to A, drive along that to 10, then drive back up to D, than it would be to drive along the outer road of L or M. Speed is limited to 10 MPH on the Gate Road, then 5 MPH for all vehicles in Black Rock City, for dust reasons as well as for safety.

photo credit: Michael Holden

photo credit: Michael Holden

People have been asking us when is the best time to arrive to minimize the hours in the queue. The rules have changed so that the gates open at 10am Sunday now, so there is no historical data to use for this decision. Your guess is as good as mine! Please report back to us with your experiences. We’re @burnersdotme on Twitter, #burners.

This year, BMOrg are making more of an effort to keep the community informed about traffic conditions. Their official radio station, BMIR 94.5, will be broadcasting updates at the top of each hour. You can get the signal before you are near the event from iHeart.com, you can download the iHeartRadio app to your smartphone. You can also follow the traffic on Twitter @BManTraffic.

As well as Burning Man’s own rideshare board, BMOrg have teamed up with commercial ride-sharing companies Zimride and Amovens to facilitate trips. You can also arrive by bus or plane.

From JRS:

customsWant to know what the traffic situation is on Highway 447 or the wait time at the Gate? Beginning Sunday, August 24, we will begin broadcasting hourly traffic reports on BMIR 94.5 at the top of the hour. We’re aggregating real-time traffic information from Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Transportation and our eye in the sky (ok, an IP traffic-cam on Poito Peak) to give you up-to-the-minute details on the drive to the event.

BMIR will be streaming via iHeartRadio again this year. You can download the app and tune in on your mobile device before entering the communications dead zones north of Wadsworth and south of Cedarville for a no-snark traffic update. Long wait time? Consider sitting tight until the back up lessens.

Wait? You want more? We’ll also be providing real-time traffic updates via Twitter. Just follow @BManTraffic.

BMIR will also begin reporting Exodus wait times and highway traffic reports onSaturday, Sept. 1 through Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Communication dead zones is an interesting concept. When I went to Juplaya a couple of years ago there was full signal on the Playa, and none of the 6 people in our group noticed any dead zones on the journey from Reno. Not that we were really looking, but it was strange when the same phones and carriers no longer got signal on the Playa later in the year at Burning Man. Do They use that spectrum for different purposes during the event?

black_rock_gerlachThis year the Jackedrabbit recommends Burners get their gas before you get to Gerlach or Empire, to improve traffic for everyone.

The only good solution is for people to gas up in Reno, Fernley, Nixon, Wadsworth or Cedarville. So please, do that.

Love’s Travel Stop in Fernley are open 24 hours and have RV dumping. Not sure about propane though.

The local Paiute Indian tribe have invited us to pass through their Pyramid Lake reservation, and have asked all Burners to please be respectful:

Pyramid Lake Nevada picturesThe Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe would like to invite all Burning Man travelers to its native and sovereign lands. The Tribe would also like to advise all travelers to SLOW DOWN AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE while traveling through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. All of the State Routes on the reservation are two lane roads and the Tribe would like motorists to turn on their headlights during the day and night, and be aware of the dangers associated with high speeds on two lane highways.

Due to the number vehicles traveling to and from the Burning Man Festival, motorists are advised to be extra cautious while traveling on any of the State Routes that run through the reservation. The entire Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation is an open range area for livestock; motorists are to be cautious of livestock that may be on the highways. While passing though the Tribal communities of Wadsworth and Nixon, the Tribe requests that motorists be cautious of children and courteous to Tribal Members that may attempt to cross the highway, or that are accessing their homes, businesses, or Tribal Services. For more important Burning Man travel information please visit this page.