A Mountain Maidu elder’s grievance

A few members of the Rainbow Family Gathering — a group with no real organization, no leaders, no spokespersons and no one to hold accountable or make arrangements, held a meet and greet last Saturday evening at Memorial Park in Susanville to educate the public about their upcoming gathering on the Plumas National Forest near Indian Creek just on the other side of Diamond Mountain.

This Rainbow Family Gathering participant said he would leave the campsite after he heard Alan Lowry’s presentation.

But the real education came from the eloquent words delivered by a Mountain Maidu elder. After hearing the elder’s remarks, one family member said his words touched his heart so much he would be leaving the gathering that apparently is being held at the  site of an ancient Maidu village.

The PNF recently determined the gathering violates Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations because the group neither secured nor applied for a special use permit for noncommercial group use that is required for any event with more than 75 people. The gathering is expected to attract as many as 10,000 participants.

Rainbow Family Gathering members repeatedly made it clear they spoke strictly as individuals and not as representatives of the group. One member said the group does not need to apply for a permit because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of the “the right of the people peacefully to assemble.” He also said the group claimed every right to keep and bear arms without interference of any kind from the government based upon the Second Amendment.

Alan Lowry, speaks to the Rainbow Family.

A Mountain Maidu Elder speaks
Alan Lowry addressed the Rainbow Family Gathering members noting they were correct — there isn’t an inch of ground in America that once wasn’t indigenous land.

“This area is an island of unburned,” Lowry said. “This time of year the bear people come out, and this is when they teach their cubs to dig the roots to sustain them after the winter … The deer are fawning. It’s very sensitive … That land is made of our blood, of our bones, of our DNA down in there.”

He said he didn’t know what the gatherers might find up there, “but the only digging we allow is what the bears do … My heart to your heart, we love that land.”

Lowry told how his great-great-grandfather died during a snowstorm very near the gathering’s campsite carrying a load of ducks to feed his family. His remains are up there.

A Mountain Maidu elder protests at Memorial Oark.

“We ask that you find another place,” Lowry said. “That’s what we ask. We don’t want the community to be upset, native and nonnative. Please. We’ve asked you to not be up there because it’s delicate … Why can’t these people find a nice, private land,” that is appropriate and suitable for such a large gathering? “Why can’t the Rainbow group find something like that? Enjoy themselves, pray and whatever … Couldn’t you find a place like that, because you’re challenging the Forest Service. You’re challenging them. I don’t know why, but you’re challenging them … ”

Unfortunately, he said the Mountain Maidu no longer control that land — the federal government does.

“The federal government, the Forest Service, they don’t listen to us,” he said. “Forest Service don’t listen to us one bit. We asked them to protect our sacred places — they don’t. Federal government — they don’t.”

He explained the difference between tribes (created by the Creator) and Rancherias (groups of tribes created by the federal government).

He also shared the Mountain Maidu creation story, passed on since time immemorial through the oral tradition that Mountain Maidu learn as young children.

According to Lowry, the Creator created this land specifically for the Maidu people and he gave it to them. Lowry said the Mountain Maidu land given to them by the Creator extended from Lassen Peak, down Deer Creek to Belden and Quincy, back up through Horse Lake and Eagle Lake, Crater Lake, Poison Lake and finally back to Lassen Peak.