The Paiute tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the Black Rock Desert and who view the area as part of their tribal heritage, have requested that Burning Man participants refrain from placing cremated human remains in the Temple.
Dean Barlese, spiritual leader of the Tribe, explained that this request reflects how they treat Pyramid Lake, where they turn down all requests to scatter human remains. “We speak for Peah Deep, Mother Earth, in this matter, and she is crying tears of blood at this time. So we stand up and do our best to protect her.”
While the Black Rock Desert is not Paiute reservation per se, it is, in Dean’s word, “within our aboriginal territory. We have a very strong cultural/spiritual tie to the area,” he noted.
In the Paiute’s view, human remains negatively affect the living spirits present within the lake and other areas under the Tribe’s protection – including the Black Rock Desert. However, the Tribe is fully supportive of tributes such as memorials to departed individuals.
“Anything else to bring about healing for individuals is okay in our view.”
Temple Guardians have the deepest respect for the Tribe’s position in matters related to their ancestral lands, and will stand with them. As a result, Guardians should respectfully turn down requests to bring the ashes of loved ones into the Temple.
It’s important to be clear that while we have this view, we are not imposing it on the rest of the community and we shouldn’t be telling people what they can and can’t do with their loved one’s ashes.
If anyone asks for help or guidance on the placing of ashes in the Temple, Guardians should respond by saying “Our role as Temple Guardians is to hold the space of the Temple and keep it safe. The local Paiute tribe has asked participants to refrain from placing ashes in the Temple. What you choose to do with your offering is up to you.”
Guidance for Offering Carriers will be addressed separately during their training.