Heading to Pyramid Lake for Symbiosis Gathering

I’m off tomorrow to Pyramid Lake, NV to attend the 3rd Symbiosis Gathering. I attended the last gathering in 2009 just outside Yosemite. Here are some images from that event:

It’s a dazzling mix of art, music, and culture all put together by two graduates of CIIS, Karen and Kevin KoChen. This year we’ll have the added thrill of a solar eclipse. Also, the event is on native territory this year beloning to the Paiute people. A discussion surrounding the issue is ongoing over on Reality Sandwich. This will be the first public festival held on the Paiute people’s grounds for a quarter century, and it seems that the tribe’s decision making process has left some members a bit frustrated. A newly formed board created to handle the tribe’s economics has apparently been making most of the decisions, and the $130,000 the tribe stands to make on the gathering isn’t being funneled to the right places, according to some tribe members.

Symbiosis has decided to allow alcohol at the event, despite the protests of some members of the tribe. Other concessions were made, however: for instance, no public nudity is permitted (something that is rather the norm at most neo-hippie festivals).

I’ll have plenty of video and photos to share when I return, including some shots of the eclipse. It will occur close to sunset, so I should be able to get some interesting shots.

4 Replies to “Heading to Pyramid Lake for Symbiosis Gathering”

  1. Hi Matt,

    I’d like to start out by thanking you for composing this post, as I myself have yet to create a successful blog. My second comment comes in the form of a question. Upon receiving this knowledge of the violation of Native American land ethics, and ethics or worldview in general, was your last sentence referring to your intent to share photos and video meant to be a joke? I suppose this is a rhetorical question, as I am just picking apart and pointing fingers at an obvious hypocracy.

    I am curious if you did indeed end up attending the Symbiosis event with the knowledge of its violations toward the Paute people. It seems to me, an hypocracy and violation of one’s own ethical obligations towards action. I am under the impression that upon receipt of knoweldge and an educational understanding of a situation (to which I personally know you have), one holds ethical obligation to act accordingly: in accordance to that which is the right thing to do. And to me, the right and ethical thing to do in this situation is to not give money to a cause participating in such wrong action.

    I am curious of your thought and process.

    Best regards and thanks again for the post,
    A concerned citizen of the cosmic whole.

    1. Hey! Is this the Kim I think it is??

      To answer your question, no my remark was not rhetorical. I did attend and take a few photos. The information I relayed above was 2nd hand, since I had not myself participated in the many meetings between festival organizers and the Paiute people leading up to the event. My understanding was that there was some disagreement among tribe members regarding the event, but such disagreements are to be expected in a group of 2,000+ tribes people.
      I spoke with a few of the Paiute while there, and they were excited to have us. Some of them were even drinking beer and dancing. Others were not as pleased and reminded us to respect the land. Some elders shared prayers and stories by the central fire at sunrise and sunset. The organizers hoped the event would provide an opportunity to heal relations between the Paiute and outsiders (outsiders relative to the 9,000 year cultural history of the land). Starhawk and others organized a group who are going to help the Paiute build swails to permaculture the land (which in its current condition is too dry to grow anything but sage brush). Whether or not the event succeeded in healing anything remains to be seen, but I don’t feel my participation was unethical, despite the controversies.
      The land was certainly raw, and several dust storms early in the week may have been a warning from local spirits to respect its pain. The local Paiute rangers were also not shy about making sure visitors remembered they were just that, visitors. One irony was that the Paiute rangers used loud four-wheelers to get around, while the Nevada State Troopers rode strong, beautiful horses. Perhaps horses are more expensive…

      1. Thanks, Matt.

        Why yes, this is the Kim that you think it is 🙂 Although, I’m not sure I’m the Kim I think I am, but that is beside the point…I’m just being playful.

        Thanks for the response. I suppose I am just sensitive to these issues, and the Paiute people in particular, as I spent 2 consecutive years as a visitor on their land in Idaho. Abiding by and being sensitive and open to their laws was and is important, and not always clear, verbalized, nor logical. I suppose I am also tuning into the history of this type of behavior and its implications as disagreement between indigenous and white peoples has been a prominent theme, and a very serious matter.

        Nonetheless, I’m glad to see there was communication happening.

        Thanks again.
        Kim

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