Lakota Situation Summary for the Rainbow Family


This educational document was requested by members of the Rainbow Family to share among those who are not understanding of the situation in the Black Hills and with the Lakota Oyate.


The matriarchal Tetuwan Lakota Oyate have never relinquished nation status. The assertion of sovereign Lakota political, economic, and cultural identity within our territory has been continually maintained through our matriarchal system and other customary political and cultural institutions like treaty and judicial councils, elder societies, and warrior societies. This is the real Lakota.

The Lakota People have the right to assert independent status and sovereign jurisdiction over our territory under International Law such as the 1961 and 1969 Vienna Convention on Treaties, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and in U.S. law under Article VI of the United States Constitution.

If the Rainbow Family does not honor Lakota sovereignty then they are endorsing U.S. colonization of Lakota territory and genocide of our people.


Despite the intentional killing of free Lakota people, the forced movement of our people onto agency lands (reservations), and, a sell-or-starve policy by the United States Government, the sacred Black Hills has never been ceded by the Lakota People. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the Black Hills had been illegally stolen from the Lakota. The Black Hills is not U.S. National Forest, park land, public land, or America. The Black Hills is Lakota territory!

The Rainbow Family has no special right, entitlement, or privilege to gather in the Black Hills.


The Oglala Sioux Tribal (OST) Government system was created by the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and was illegally forced upon our people by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Oglala Sioux Tribe is controlled by non-traditional mixed-blood indians and is culturally incompatable with traditional matriarchal, family-based Lakota culture.

The OST is ruled through corruption, embezzlement, fraud, and nepotism. Beginning in the early 1970s, the OST has been used to attack and eliminate full-blood, traditional, and grassroots Lakota people. This corruption and violence precipitated the 1973 Wounded Knee Takeover and continues today.

Rainbow Family collaboration with the Oglala Sioux Tribe is the same as working with the U.S. Government to destory authentic Lakota sovereignty and culture.


The genocidal conditions of life created by the U.S. Government and the OST have created an epidemic of drugs and alcohol use among our people. The situation is so critical that elders must often chain their refrigerators shut so that their food will not be stolen and exchanged for drugs or alcohol. Hopelessness fuels a teen suicide rate over 150% times the U.S. average.

Drug and alcohol gang members openly work within OST to embezzle money from U.S. contracts that are desperately needed for the poor Lakota people to fund housing, food, and medical care. This money funds their drug trade and is used to bribe tribal council members, BIA officials, and law enforcement into protecting this corrupt system.

When Lakota people courageously speak out against this corrupt system, they face retaliation and are blacklisted from OST government services necessary for life including housing, healthy food, winter propane, and funds for critical medical proceedures like dialysis. Elders in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are threatened with assault, false imprisonment, and even murder. They face constant mental anguish for seeking a better life for their Lakota people.

Inside sources tell us the decision to hold a gathering in the Black Hills is being fueled by financial motives of at least one large pot grower in the Rainbow Family. This is a direct assault on Lakota people.


Unscrupulous or ignorant people among the Rainbow Family may find a group or individual that will say or do what they like. These individuals may offer ceremony, claim to share Indigenous ‘wisdom’, or give permission for activities and ceremonies when they do not have the Lakota people’s authority to do so. This often results in cultural confusion, cultural appropriation and theft, and real Lakota issues and voices being silenced. Only listening to the voices you want to hear dishonors Lakota cultural protocols, creates division, and hurts Lakota people further.  The Lakota have a saying, “An individual does not speak for a nation – the nation speaks for the individual.”

Elders and leaders from traditional Lakota governing societies have clearly told the Rainbow Family they are not welcome in the Black Hills. We urge  the  Rainbow Family to leave the Black Hills now and denounce those that stay!  Stand in solidarity with the traditional Lakota people!

No Means No

We are hearing on the ground the Rainbow Family is finally realizing they have screwed up.  But in classic white supremacist fashion, they continue to try and set the terms for their continued occupation of Lakota Territory.  They want to stay and make ammends “on the land”.

That’s not how it works. The Rainbow Family has been given an order to leave the Black Hills. They are in open violation of Lakota Order, currently trespassing on Lakota land,  guilty of verbally abusing Lakota elders and representatives, and then lying about it to other Rainbows who are not on the land.  This must stop.


ACTION ALERT: Stand With Traditional Lakota People Under Attack in the Black Hills

Lakota Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society

June 18, 2015

For Immediate Release and Action!  Share Widely!

The Lakota Nation has never relinquished nation status and the sacred Black Hills is unceded Lakota territory. While many of the Rainbow Family have realized it is inappropriate to hold a  Rainbow Gathering in the Black HIlls,  a smaller Rainbow group is allowing themselves to be used by the United States Government and the illegal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Oglala Sioux Tribe Government (OST) who are very intentionally attacking Lakota sovereign jurisdiction and traditional Lakota people. They want Lakota warriors and the Rainbow Family to fight so they can arrest Lakota activists and interfere with efforts to assert sovereignty.  This is nothing more than continued warfare waged against traditional and grassroots Lakota people and Indigenous rights.

The Lakota people have a natural right, under International Law, to exercise sovereign jurisdiction, customary law, and our traditional political, economic, and social institutions free from interference. This includes the rights to control our territory and exercise our traditional governmental institutions such as treaty councils, judicial councils, and warrior societies.

1. We call upon all those who are friends of the traditional and grassroots Lakota people to hold accountable the United States Government through its National Forest Service and National Park Service. Demand they end their unlawful protection of those Rainbow Family and campers who are violating orders of the traditional Lakota people.  Contact:

  • U.S. Forest Service Black Hills director Craig Bobzien phone   (605) 673-9200,  fax: (605) 673-9350, email to
  • U.S. Forest Service Washington DC Chief Tom Tidwell phone (202) 205-8439 and email to  Copy Tina Baily at
  • U.S. Park Service Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl Schreier at (605)-574-3131 and     

Tell them they are bound by U.S. and International Law to uphold the lawful orders of the Black Hills Sioux Treaty Council, Tetuwan Judicial Council, and Independent Lakota Nation of the traditional and grassroots Lakota Oyate.

2.     Contact the South Dakota Congressional representatives.

  • Senator John Thune (605) 348-7551 and toll-free (866) 850-3855
  • Senator MIke Rounds  (605) 343-5035 and toll-free (844) 875-5268
  • Representative Kristi Noem (605) 791-4673 and toll-free (855) 225-2801

Tell them they legally obligated to respect the traditional government and sovereign jurisdiction of the Lakota people. Ask them to put pressure on the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Park Service to stop going against traditional Lakota orders. (They are all in Pine Ridge on Thursday June 18).

3.  Contact President John Steele of the BIA Oglala Sioux Tribe  and Vice President Tom Poor Bear.

  • OST Tribal President John Steele 605-867-4021; email to
  • OST Vice-President Tom Poor Bear  605-867-4009; email:

Tell them to stop being agents with the U.S. Government and  listen to the traditional elders and people who wishes are not being respected.  Ask him to withdraw OST invitation from the Rainbow Family as elders and warriors in the Black Hills Treaty Council, Tetuwan Judicial Council, and Strong Heart Warrior Society have demanded.

4.  The Rainbow family must not allow themselves to be used as agents of the United States Government and the genocidal BIA Tribal Government System.  Stand with people like Daniel Suelo and members of the Rainbow Family in boycotting a gathering in South Dakota and withdrawing people who are already there.

Lakota Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society
Independent Lakota Nation
P.O. Box 512 Hill City, SD 57745
Canupa Gluha Mani 605-517-1547

Lakota Issue Notice of Complaint to Rainbow Family; Deny Black Hills Entry

Hill City – The Lakota Tetuwan Judiciary Council and the Cante Tenza Strong Heart Warrior Society of the Independent Lakota Nation have issued a Notice of Complaint to the Rainbow Family and the Rainbow Gathering denying them entry into the Sacred Black Hills.

Using Article I of the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie known as the “Bad Man Clause”, Lakota warriors will exercise sovereign jurisdiction over their traditional territory to remove any encampments and hold the Rainbow Family in custody until they can be handed over to United States officials for treatment.   Monetary damages will be sought.

The Cante Tenza Strong Heart Warriors and the Tetuwan Judicial Council are also pointing a finger at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Oglala Sioux Tribe Government who once again illegally refused to consult traditional elders before entering into negotiations with the Rainbow Family group.

This action highlights the complete breakdown of government with Pine Ridge Reservation resulting in one government for those connected to the BIA system, and additional poverty, violence, and lack of representation to traditional and grassroots Lakota people.

The United States Forest Service and the Department of Justice are also being scrutinized for their failure to recognize and protect sovereign Lakota lands in the Black Hills- especially during ceremony time when so many Lakota are traveling and participating in Sundance and other ceremonies necessary for Lakota health and survival.  A gathering of the Rainbow Family may have over 20,000 people and is known for the rampant nudity and drug use that accompany such gatherings. This would disrupt and dissuade Lakota ceremonial practices in the Black Hills.



Action Alert: Rainbow Tribe NOT WELCOME in Black Hills

Traditional Lakota Elders & Warriors: Rainbow Gathering NOT WELCOME in the Sacred Black Hills

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye, the traditional Strong Heart Warrior Society of the free and Independent Lakota Nation has heard from the traditional and grassroots elders on Pine Ridge and the message is clear: the Rainbow Gathering is NOT WELCOME in the Sacred Black Hills and this gathering is incompatible with the deep political, cultural, and spiritual significance of this area to our people.

Those standing in solidarity with Cante Tenza and the traditional Lakota People are urged to call and email the U.S. Forest Service Black Hills Supervisor Craig Bobzien, as well as US Forest Chief Tidwell in Washington DC. , Demand they uphold the sovereign rights of the Lakota People and stand with us to keep the Rainbow Gathering out of the Black Hills.

U.S. Forest Service Black Hills director Craig Bobzien phone   (605) 673-9200,  fax: (605) 673-9350, email to

U.S. Forest Service Washington DC Chief Tom Tidwell phone (202) 205-8439 and email to  Copy Tina Baily at

Also, contact any Rainbow Family you know and share this message.

 The Rainbow Family has said they have met with “Lakota leaders” but these people are not the traditional, grassroots people and do not speak for these grassroots elders on Pine Ridge. They have not been asked or consulted.

The Black Hills are LAKOTA LANDS never ceeded to the US Government or anyone else and actively in contention. The Rainbow Family’s assertion of the “right” to go wherever they want on Lakota lands is the same colonizing attitude since 1492 dressed up in hippie “onenes”.  Not recognizing the Lakota right to refuse occupation of our lands is racist and colonialist.

The Lakota have experienced previous Rainbow type gatherings and do not want another in the Black Hills. This is Sundance and ceremony time in the Black HIlls and all across Lakota territory.  Incursions like this that are culturally hurtful and harmful are not suitable or sustainable for the preservation of Lakota language and culture which are invigorated and sustained by prayer and ceremony during this time.

Also, large gatherings of culturally offensive people may dissuade traditional elders and our people from visiting the Black Hills  -itself an act of cultural loss and genocide. Predatory people and drug dealers who accompany these gatherings may also be present which are a threat to Lakota women and children.

Cante Tenza has been asked to communicate this message:

  • The Black Hills is the most sacred place to the Lakota People and contains sites of cultural importance to many other Indigenous Nations. The Black Hills is an inappropriate place for a Rainbow Gathering.
  • Traditional and grassroots elders have expressed their deep concern to Cante Tenza about the Rainbow gathering. Noting the historic exploitation of the sacred Black Hills by non-Lakota settlers as well as nudity and drug use common to Rainbow participants, this gathering is incompatible with the deep spiritual significance of the area to the Lakota and other Indigenous peoples.
  • The Rainbow Family and its associated participants are well known for the cultural theft of Indigenous ceremonies and cultural practices that are deeply rooted in racism and white privilege. The Black Hills is already a place where Lakota have been prevented from practicing our sacred way of life by the State and white settlers. The use of the Black Hills by those “playing indian” and misusing Indigenous cultural practices is both hurtful and harmful to real Lakota people.
  • The announcement of the Rainbow Gathering coming to the Black Hills has already caused concern and anxiety to traditional Lakota elders and people who already struggle with difficult conditions of life. The Rainbow Family has already disrespected the Lakota People and this must stop now.
  • The Rainbow Gathering will be perpetuating racism and cultural genocide on the Lakota people by ignoring the wishes of the traditional elders, warriors, and oyate. We condemn the Rainbow Gathering plans to congregate in the Black Hills and demand an immediate cessation to this organizing effort.


April 9 & 10 – Unsettling Boston!

april9and10bostonUNSETTLE BOSTON!
Conquest of Independence & Decolonization Skill-ShareThe Tetuwan Lakota Strong Heart Warrior  Society invites you to join us for two  FREE evenings of music, discussion, and resistance.

Thursday April 9, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Encuentro 5
9A Hamilton Place in downtown Boston
near Park St. T-Stop & Suffolk Law School

Friday April 10, 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Old Oak Dojo
14 Chestnut Place in Jamaica Plain, MA
Stonybrook T-Station on the Orange Line
Seating is limited to 20 chairs and 20 on the floor. We recommend you arriving early to find a spot. The dojo is wheelchair accessible. Please do not park in the driveway.Both events are FREE!  Donations welcome.
For questions, email or call 617-230-3860