From Black Rock to Standing Rock — and Back Again

As we all gear up to head back into Black Rock City, I notice how the cyclical nature of the event affects how I think about the world. Memories of last year’s event come flooding back as if it were just a few weeks ago. And in some ways, within my mental map, that’s true.

One of the striking moments in 2016 happened right after our toast to celebrate the opening of the Artery and Everywhere space. I was approached by two women from Red Lighting Camp, who carried with them a determination and spirit that I couldn’t ignore. Simone Schultz and Bobbie “OneLove” told me about their intention to head to Standing Rock, and this catapulted me into my own journey.

From that simple conversation, so many things transpired, and the actions by Red Lightning over the following months, in what became a very frigid South Dakota, took an amount of dedication and effort that I am both amazed and humbled by.

But once the movement at Standing Rock disbanded, Red Lightning was far from through with their involvement. They are bringing the lessons, prayers and many of the friends they made out there back home to Black Rock City.

Red Lighting is creating a space to bring the Standing Rock Spirit and global movement together. In a Tipi Circle under a medicine wheel with a sacred fire, a council will gather to engage in song, drum, dance, storytelling and celebration on the esplanade.

This sacred space will be created and held in collaboration with indigenous wisdom keepers and tribal members from across Turtle Island.

There’s a variety of events happening at Red Lighting throughout the week, but the most radical gift will be their Global Drum Prayer. On Tuesday, August 29 at 6:30 pm, Red Lightning will gather in a drum circle, and the Mayan Warrior art car will amplify the tribal beats across the playa. It will be an attempt to create a global synchronized ritual with 66 other locations across the globe, which will be joining in simultaneously.

All are welcome to come and visit Red Lightning at 8:15 & Esplanade.

You can also join us at Burners Without Borders Camp (2:45 & Esplanade) on Wednesday, August 30 at 3:45–5:15pm, for our Standing Rock panel. We’ll have a variety of Burner voices, including those from Red Lightning who made the trek out to Standing Rock, and who will tell us about the lessons, the learnings, and how it continues to affect us.

As our community continues this circadian rhythm into the desert and back out again, I continue to be impressed by our drive to bring the experiences, values and Principles out past the orange trash fence. Let’s see what happens this year as we bring what we learned out in the world, back home again to the playa.

You can learn more about Red Lightning here and the Global Drum Prayer here. 

Top photo by Simone Schultz

About the author: Christopher Breedlove

Christopher Breedlove

Christopher Breedlove is the Program Manager for Burners Without Borders (BWB). BWB supports year round initiatives from across the globe with innovative civic engagement solutions and community resiliency projects. Coming to the Burning Man Project from Chicago, Christopher has a history of creating dynamic and participatory civic projects with a particular interest in democratic granting programs. 2016 will be his tenth trip to Black Rock City.

7 Comments on “From Black Rock to Standing Rock — and Back Again

  • Chowski says:

    So much of what has been inspired by this year’s dreadful Art Theme is of interest to so few Burners, at least as evidenced by last year’s census which pointedly asked about our interest in spirituality and ritual, and the virtual silence on eplaya and other chat room boards about it.. it seems every single art piece is some godawful (literal) shrine to grief and prayer and what to me (and to the vast majority of Burners) comes across as Oom Chakalaka self-involvement mysticism , and this camp manages to add politics to the mix!

    I truly wonder if all these events will just go unattended. I mean, it will certainly be a great year for the very few people who self-report being interested in this new age nonsense. I wonder if the artists anticipate that asking for a conversation about their “very important pain” will also include people who do not subscribe to that world view.

    From what the Blog has been publishing, all this is being presented incredibly earnestly – dreadful. Like being forced to listen to Christians talk about the Love of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during a party.

    Ultimately, my prediction is this year’s theme will be largely ignored by the majority of Burners, and will be one of those that, five years from now, you struggle to recall what it even was.

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  • SoWow says:

    Did the Burners save the Indians?

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  • Danny Boyer says:

    Chowski, Perhaps the people who have interests beyond the Playa, are interested in ritual, and hod things like the health of the planet as sacred don’t spend any time on eplaya and chat rooms. This is the first I have payed any attention to this lack of interest in the Art Theme. As a Burner since 1999, I actually thought the theme sounded pretty cool and was excited enough to see mention of Standing Rock in the Jack Rabbit Speaks that I clicked and read the article.
    That is one of the great things about Burning Man. There is something for everyone. I never really thought about spending my energy being so negative about what others do out there. I am sorry for you that it is so godawful. Sounds like you should just stop going to Burning Man.

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  • Simone Schulz says:

    I feel so inspired. More than every before… The ‘art theme’ resonates with me deeply… I’ve come to the Floating World in 2002 and experienced a fairy tale ‘Beyond Belief’ after that… nothing since has compared to this years’ art theme that feels like it’s resonating with a deep pulse in the earth… MNI WICONI – Water is Sacred, Water is Life is nothing political – it’s common sense… It’s what I’ve learned clearly through my years on playa and what has prepared me to stay through the fall and winter at Standing Rock after last years’ burn… the burn never ended and we’re living a reality that is nothing short of ‘Radical Ritual’… The times are calling for humanity to take a stand for water for what is right… I’m proud to stand on the right side of history with the most beautiful people I’ve come to meet… I rarely fill out the census, come and join the Power of Prayer, join us at the sacred fire, hear & share some stories that your heart will never forget… Radical Ritual – you named the times of prophecy… Get Ready – I’m

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  • Sunny Prakash says:

    I live in India& I want to come for this gathering

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