Welcome Home.

For directions to the gathering, click here.

If you do not want a go directly to jail card, a mandatory court appearance ticket, or your stuff tossed all over the ground as you enter the gathering, read this.

If the information on this blog does not answer your questions, send an email to gathering info and someone should respond.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Brief Summary of Gathering/Forest Service Relationships (take 1)

I find it helpful to have a basic understanding of situations in order to make informed decisions going into the future.  While my understanding of the relationship between the gathering and the United States Forest Service (USFS) is just one perspective, I hope that putting together a brief summary of how things have gone may help myself and other to see the big picture.

As I wasn't around until the late 1980s, I will try to keep my summary focused on things I do know and let others fill in the rest.

At the first gathering of the tribes, the USFS told family that a gathering could not happen without a permit and that no permit would be issued.  The next several years, the issue disappeared from the radar. From 1976 to 1980 permits were signed, often under protest. If you're interested in the details, read Plunker's summary of the permit issue from 1972 to 1983: Permit Herstory.

In 1984, the Forest Service enacted a regulation requiring a permit for any expressive assembly of ten or more people on Forest Service lands. This was unenforced for a year and a half before the Service attempted to apply it to the gathering in Arizona in 1986.

In 1987 at the North Carolina gathering, the state tried to tell us we need a permit for all public gatherings. After a lot of legal wrangling and an elephant, Judge Dave issued a consent decree that theoretically was not a permit, but .....Judge Dave was so taken with his experience in 1987 that he has written a book about it called Judge Dave and the Rainbow People. All didn't end so well as some of the cleanup crew where arrested. Click here for the consent order.

 In 1988 at the Texas gathering, the USFS demanded a permit and when family just said no, they blockaded the gathering and refused to allow ingress to the gathering site. Family walked around the blockade to bring in supplies. The situation wound up in court. The judge presiding over the hearing was Mr. Justice or as he is more commonly known in Rainbow Circles Justice Justice.   This regulation was deemed unconstitutional because not all groups of ten or more people were required to obtain a permit. In other words, if people attending the gathering were sharing information, fliers, beliefs, etc, then a permit was required. However, if they weren't, then no permit required.  For Plunker's rap on what happened, click here.

The USFS Group Use Regulations governing "special events" were struck down at the 1988 gathering in Texas --visit these sites for more info: 
The USFS regrouped and tried to write regulations governing special events that would stand up in court.  It took them quite some time and if you're interested in a perspective on how that all happened, read the PC&U's article, From the Trenches.  (This article was written just after the Wyoming 1994 gathering).

In late 1995, a new set of group use regulations was published by the government that required any group of 75 or more people to apply for a "Group Use Permit" under the Non-Commercial Group Use Regulations.

In 1996, one individual signed a permit and then later tried to rescind it. For a summary, see the Ozark Gazette article.  Folks gathered and so it goes.

In 1997 at the annual gathering in Oregon, the USFS tried a new tactic: they came with arrest warrants for people they deemed "secret leaders"  and then these "secret leaders" counter sued. We had an amazing council for days on end with the USFS and worked out an unsigned operating plan on the land.  (You can find copies of a few of these plans here). Finally, the USFS bullied a woman in Portland who had a child at the gathering to sign a permit, which she did.

Wrangling over the permit continued at the Arizona gathering in 1998.  While a small victory was won by a gatherer, it was a technicality and had no great impact on the future course of events. 
For a summary of events, see the Arizona Republic Article or the New York Times article.

During the 1999 Rainbow Gathering in Pennsylvania, 3 individuals were chosen by the Forest Service's Incident Command Team as "secret leaders," and cited for not applying for a group use permit. As Rainbow is a leaderless, self-created temporary community, these charges were totally bogus. Unfortunately, due some legal maneuverings by the USFS, the "Rainbow 3"  lost their case (they weren't allowed any witnesses, among other things). An attempt was made to bring the case to the US Supreme Court, but the justices declined to take the case and the "Rainbow 3" spent time in the federal prison system for refusing to illegally sign a permit. For more legal information, click herehere or here or read the article that appeared in Legal Affairs.

Moving out west for 2000 in Montana, a cat and mouse game played out between the "secret leaders" with some of them sneaking in and out of the gathering to avoid continued legal harassment and the USFS. Three people were picked out by the Forest Service as “Rainbow leaders” to receive tickets for camping without a noncommercial group use permit. One of the defendants challenged his ticket. The Forest Service replied, as they had in the previous cases, that the group use regulation was a constitutional time, place, and manner restriction that is narrowly tailored to fit the specific government needs of protecting Forest Service resources, insuring public safety, and deciding between competing uses in a way that leaves open ample alternative channels for expression. Furthermore the signature requirement was a valuable means of ensuring that the group would adhere to the terms of the special use authorization and of protecting against fraudulent statements. All three defendants were sentenced to jail time although the sentences varied.

The cat and mouse game continued in Idaho in 2001 with tickets for all despite the fact that a permit application was made and denied.   While I don't have the exact number of citations issued for being at a an "illegal gathering" (One with more than 74 people and no permit), there's a great article from the Boise Weekly on the issue and my guess is over 500 if not closer to 1,000 people received the magic ticket.   The governor issued a declaration of emergency. The USFS even went so far as to inform the local chapter of Trout Unlimited that they would be unable to perform restoration work in conjunction with gatherers.  By the 4th of July, USFS mounted officers were seen joining in the celebration for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet.

In 2002 the gathering was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and drinking water was in short supply. The USFS tried to smoke us out by dumping drinking water en route to the gathering. but the local townsfolks  help out.  Then the USFS refused to issue a permit to an applicant.  Finally, the USFS decided that the illegal gathering could happen on one side of the river but not the other.  The infamous "west bank" of the river became off limits to everyone although every evening after they USFS LEOs went home for the day, we gathered there for dinner circle and for the silence on the 4th.

In 2003, a long time gatherer approached the USFS and promised to sign a permit for the gathering in Utah. He followed through on his plan meeting with officials before hand but the situation with the USFS was as bad as ever.  The USFS expected the permit signer to be responsible for every detail of the gathering and we all know that was doomed to failure.

Prior to the California 2004 gathering, meetings and telephone calls with the USFS took place in an attempt to find a workable solution for both sides - including a meeting with the head of the USFS in the Haight-Ashbury library in San Francisco.  Despite attempts to trying to work together, things didn't work out and the gathering was once again declared "illegal." Again someone not affiliated with the gathering signed a permit, but the USFS kept up it's campaign of intimidation, people were cited for being at an illegal event before the permit was signed, and the USFS declared the site off limits to nudity despite the fact that nudity was legal at this location before the gathering started.  People who were cited for being at an illegal gathering or being naked by their tent were treated to a visit to kangaroo court: a makeshift court just for us in some random building located in a small town near the gathering.

West Virginia in 2005 marks the first time the annual gathering relocated under pressure from the USFS.  A permit was signed for a location that the USFS wanted us to be on, many people received tickets for being at an "illegal gathering" and kangaroo Court was set up at the local visitor's center.
  In 2006, the USFS put up road blocks at the Colorado gathering in a failed attempt to prevent people from entering yet another "illegal gathering," many citations were written to people at the gathering, folks walked in through the woods (just like in 1972), kangaroo court took place in the local Fire Station and someone applied for a group use permit, which the Forest Service denied.

Arkansas 2007 was an attempt to work with the upper levels of the USFS  on a cooperative solution and the USFS took an unsigned operating plan worked out with gathering participants on the land in lieu of a falsified signature on a permit.  Life didn't change that much and the LEOs pulled pepper spray guns at family when they arrested a young woman (without bothering to inform her that she was being arrested).

The tension escalated the following year in Wyoming 2008. Again, the USFS accepted an unsigned operating plan worked out with gatherers on the land in lieu of a permit.  Unfortunately, the tension between the heads of the USFS who agreed to the unsigned operating plan model and the LEOs on the ground played out in the LEOs shooting up Kid Village with the same pepper spray paint ball guns they pulled the previous year. For perspectives on this situation from gatherers, click here.   For the report from the federal government on this incident, click here.

And by my accounts, Wyoming 2008 marks the absolute low in the relationship between the United States Forest Service and the Rainbow Gathering.

The New Mexico gathering in 2009 was a strange one.  Again someone not affiliated with the gathering signed a permit.  Everyone was jumpy after 2008. The US Marshals were there to baby sit the USFS LEOs and despite some scary moments, the US Marshals kept the USFS LEOs peaceful (that's not the official party line but I spent a lot of time on that movie and myself as well as others I know believe this to be true). 

Then starting with Pennsylvania, 2010, gatherers on the land, working cooperatively with USFS resource and law enforcement personnel continued with the unsigned operating plan model.  The day we counciled on the actual operating plan, the head of the forest and the law enforcement incident commander sat in council with us, passed the feather, and worked together to address concerns, issues and problems.  :)

That relationship continued in Washington 2011 with really awesome USFS LEO leadership working with folks on the land.  An unsigned operating plan was worked out between gatherers and USFS resource personnel. 

Tennessee 2012 continued the unsigned operating plan model.

All this brings us to this year.  As I'm finishing up this blog post I started in early March, I just received an email from someone who was at the meeting today on the land with the USFS and I hear everyone is feeling really positive about a cooperative relationship for 2013.  Now keep in mind, when I say cooperative and mellow, I am referring to the situation inside the gathering, not on the road or when you're in your vehicles driving in.  To be adequately prepared for the road, read the right sidebar message.

I'll probably rework this post at some point to update it with more details.  if I do so, I will update the date.

Finally, if you're interested in my analysis of where we went wrong in how gathering participants responded to the conflicts between folks on the land and the government, click here.

If you've managed to read this entire post, you now have a clue.  If you managed to read all the links, you actually understand the journey we've been on with the US Government.  As far as I'm concerned, gatherers sharing love and acting peacefully took on the US Government and we're still standing - quite an accomplishment family.  I know many of us have had differences of opinions over the years on how to deal with this situation and I think this saga proves that we're on a good path, one with many perspectives, a bit of bickering, and more love than my heart can hold. 

Additional References

USFS Non-commercial group use regulations

Welcome Home's FS Regs page

Butterfly Bill's nice summary of court cases.

Butterfly Bill's stories of gatherings' past.

Karin's archive of FOIA Requests


  1. Amazing that "in the land of the free" that such occurs. Here in Mexico where I live and we've had a couple of good sized Gatherings (over a thousand and folks from 36& countries) we have had zero problems with "authorities?" and have been welcomed. Actually quite a few folks from fairly high government positions attended with their families.
    To my knowledge from personally being there there was no permit signed in 1978 for the Gathering in Oregon that year. In fact I was at Garricks farm in Drain when the USFS said we needed a permit and I wrote out the 1st Amendment on a piece of fool scrap paper to give them as our permit. And one of the officials said: Where does a 600 pound gorilla sit; Anywhere he wants and we are that gorilla in that situation. LOL
    Now permits have been signed by folks who just didn't understand that nobody has the authority of the Rainbow Council to do so. At the last NM Gathering such was the case by a sister who really should have known better. It was taken to the U.S. District Court in Santa Fe and was ruled that she in fact did not have the authority given by the Councils for and of that Gathering and thus she violated the rights of the people. Being a Rainbow case she was only fined a token $1.00 for doing so.
    Of course if anybody wants to play Find the Leader of Rainbow it's an automatic no win game LOL

  2. LOL According to that ruling she signed a permit for a Gathering that only she could attend as the Council of the Gathering did not agree to it. Effectively she signed for a permit for only one person, herself, and such is not required for a Gathering of one person LOL

  3. Heart Tribe was able to force open the roadblock
    @ 87 NC by photographing FSPs blockade from inside our leading bus in the caravan from Florida.
    . When they saw us holding the Order from Judge Davis and photographing their intimidation, they immediately removed the wooden barricades and stepped aside ! It was one joyful for moment for a whole caravan of freedom fighters.
    our bus had four blue 55 gallon drums on the roof
    , spring water for kids village. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin. (-;

  4. i was there at most of those gatherings from 99 on,except,02,10,12,right on and true everything karin says,washington was the first gathering i had been to in 13 nationals that i had not seen any cops,leos,ect,inside the gathering,day or night,although they never come in at night,cause we rule that,as granpa woodstock says, " peace and love,that's all you need".

  5. Is it possible to maybe deter some of these confrontations by a live stream video uploaded directly to the web. kinda like a homemade national rainbow(geo)graphic reality show on bad cops. most folks like to hide their dirt in the dark. shine a light. especially at kid village... wow.

    Signed: a very grateful now better informed rainbow freedom peaceful warrior. i had no clue we as americans lost our 1st amendment rights somewhere in history. wow.

    ps) is it possible to maybe have a gathering close to the colleges that educate the next generation of usfs staff. kinda like sitting that 600 lb peaceful gorilla on their doorstep. break the cycle of hate by peaceful yet intentional introductions. kinda like a proactive rather than a reactive response. not to instigate...to educate. some colleges now offer cultural immersion programs & your providing it for free. everybody wins.

    1. old people, get up, pack your bags, its time, lets do this... you'll know me when you meet me... them youngers are gonna need you to help walk them through a couple of things before you guys go. that multi-cultural thing is gonna come up so figure it out.

      youngers... you have been invited to the most awsomest party ever. listen to your olders & keep the peace. that's all you gotta do to get in. so, r.u.n? if you are then party is on at... you'll figure it out... keep reading.

      death camp... yes you girl. congratulations. the fireworks. not cool! listen to your olders! & always keep the peace! otherwise why are you even there? anyway, you got my attention, so tag, your it. You'll be the one to know where the party is cuz well every younger there knows you now. you might wanna pack some red bull cuz every kid there is gonna try to find you... your gonna be too busy for anymore fireworks, ever. your grounded to pine ridge, the poorest place in america until everything in their new grocery store has been sold out & they have to restock. and you have to run in their suicide awareness 5 k thing on wednesday july 17th. yes, write it down. i'm thinking i like this rainbow family thing. i'm the kid counselor that just retired eary & i think i just found a new family just now. lucky you cuz yes, you are definately grounded. and i got a whole world to back it up. maybe they will help you with your punishment. might wanna ask the Dalai Lama, the Hopi Elders, Mr. Mandela, the Pope & who else you guys got up in there? them too. to work the details of that out for you. i'll get you their phone numbers. i aint joking! i'm so loving this whole world family thing. :)

      To the world... shout out to keep the peace baby!!! & please don't let them use our own weapons against us. its just a party, & we promise we will clean it up!!!

  6. Has anybody called Oprah yet?

  7. Would the Dalai Lama be so kind as to oversee the national effort to reinstate mullti cultural peaceful tribalism in north america? Oprah has the jet. Please pick up the Hopi Elders, Mr. Mandela & the Pope along the way. This is not a joke. Please help us help you in this world peace effort.

    Would anybody else like to help with this thing? www.heartsutra2013.org.au

  8. On Wednesday, July 17, the 4th Annual Suicide Awareness bike, run, or walk will begin in Kyle, SD at 9am. “Healing the mind, emotion, and soul of the Oyate” sponsored by OST/IHS Behavioral Health Team. For more information contact Thelma Shangreaux at 605-441-9779, Pauletta Red Willow at 605-454-1111, Tudy Pierce at 605-441-2396, or Sonia Garnette at 605-454-0707.

    1. The flyer is gone, but the event is still on. Call Dean for details at 605-867-1704.

  9. The north american zombie run will begin after. We as Americans want the immediate reinstatement of our original constitution and current bill of rights. Home of the free... let's be free.

  10. does anybody know how to make this whole viral thing work? again, i'm clueless.

  11. Hello... is there anybody out there?

    1. you guys do know that this is as far as i can go to help you help you. i got some other things i gotta do now, like pack. so, if you want this as a world family, then go get it. it's up to the tribes & zombies now...

    2. has anybody figured it out that if everything happens at the same place at the same time... well, i think that might be a little confusing for some bullies. there are 4 efforts at work here. world peace, dual system (ie. harmony), healing of the natives (go teach them what love is again), & a reset for uncle sam. never underestimate the element of surprise. does that answer most of the questions?

    3. i am an anonymous retired kid counselor. that is all i am & all i will ever be.

  12. people... i am on my way with your personalized Elders invitation...

    somebody might wanna call somebody...


What do you think?