Rainbow Family of Living Light Ethnography
People of the Rainbow:
This books fits into the disciplines of American Studies; Sociology; Nonviolence; Native American Studies; Journalism; Ethnography; Anthropology; Cultural Studies; Anarchism and Religious Studies.
"Michael Niman has drawn on a wide range of documents and many years of participant observation to give us the fullest, most balanced picture of the Rainbows ever published. His book is an outstanding work of American social history."
-- Timothy Miller, University of Kansas.
"In this book, Michael Niman skillfully leads us through the alternate universe of the Rainbow Family, a group of millenarian anarchists whose moveable feast takes the form of large annual gatherings in remote forests across the nation -- events that have alarmed and then baffled law-enforcement officials and observers from the media . . . . A riveting case study in postmodern American utopianism, People of the Rainbow will be compelling reading for anyone interested in popular spirituality, social movements, and contemporary American culture."
-- Michael F. Brown, Williams College
"...Michael Niman examines what it is that holds [the Rainbows] together--drumming and sharing, hewing wood and drawing water, trying to deal peacefully with the drunks of `A-Camp' and belligerent Babylonian authorities, and building state of the art shitters to protect the assembled brothers and sisters from outbreaks of mass diarrhea. Niman tells it with love and perceptiveness; his exegesis on homemade technology makes a serious point about ecology and self-sufficiency. He rightly raps the Rainbows who rip off American Indian rituals, but makes it clear that the Gatherings are not an ossified `60s relic, but an attempt to create a different way of life in the real world--even if only for a week."
--Steven Wishnia, High Times
"...After 200 pages, Niman comes to the same conclusion I did almost the moment I arrived at my first Gathering. But his is backed up by an impressive amount of social science. Much of the final chapter focuses on a detailed analysis of the variables that caused past utopias to succeed or fail, including a detailed comparison with The Farm. With or without spiritual "vision" or a respectable foundation in Native mythology, he seems to conclude, the Family is here to stay.
...All in all, People of the Rainbow is a Herculean attempt at a Quixotic task. His freedom of Information Act research alone is worth the price of the book. In spite of its flaws--and its polish--Mike Niman's detailed examination and clear assessment of the Family is a contribution that would make any Rainbow Warrior proud."
Stephen Wing, Ho!, All Ways Free
"...The book rambles like a typical day at a gathering, wandering through history, the group's "policies" of decision-making by consensus, attitudes toward violence, crime, Native Americans, land, and the US government. The author knows utopian history and consistently hits the mark in placing the Family in the context of utopian thought. Whether readers agree with his evaluation of the meaning of the Rainbow Nation is almost irrelevant. The group is a living extension of a subculture that reigned when ideas were simpler and more positive; Niman's book suits it well. A set of scruffy, delightful appendixes enriches the understanding of Rainbow lifestyle even more."
E. J. Green, Choice
"...Niman was a most conscientious and sensitive fieldworker, obtaining much information from individuals with whom many researchers would have found it impossible to establish rapport. It is evident that he has a good background in the literature of utopian communitarian societies, both descriptive and theoretical.
This reviewer found the book to be well documented and very interesting. The Rainbow Family 'comes to life' from the very first page. The account is at once sympathetic and yet objective. There are, in this writer's opinion, too few descriptions of past and present communitarian societies by professionals. To this small library, Niman's work is a valuable addition."
Christina M. Lemieux, Nova Religio
People of the Rainbow; A Nomadic Utopia, is dedicated
to the memory of Evelyn and Hank Niman
Try to buy local by ordering People of the Rainbow from your local independent bookstore!
"People of the Rainbow" is published by the University of Tennessee Press, a not-for-profit publisher. Order Direct from Publisher online ($24.95 plus shipping) or call 1-800-621-2736
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First Edition (out of print)
Rainbow Family of Living Light Ethnography
People of the Rainbow:
Rainbow Gatherings: A Memior By Butterfly Bill. (Recommended Read! ) Muskogee, OK: Bliss Fire Press (2010)
Welcome Home: A look into the Rainbow Family of Living Light by Mary Kohut. Self Published (LuLu) (2008)
Judge David and the Rainbow People by David Sentelle. Washington, D.C.: Green Bag Press (2002)
The 2012 US National Rainbow Gathering will be in the Cherokee National Forest, east of South Holston Lake between the lake and Holston Mountain. This is in the NE corner of Tennessee. The GPS coordinates for the site, as provided by Rainbow Scout Camp, are N 36.50175 W 82.04347.
The Gathering will officially run July 1-7. Seed Camp (set-up) began June 11th.
Web for Rainbow Family Photos
SEARCH the Web for Rainbow Family News Stories
Author's Publications Page
Rainbow Documentary Film
Three-time Academy Award®-Nominated Producer Steve Kalafer’s newest documentary
New Jersey Films presents We Love You!
We Love You! Film Website --
Look Inside "People of the Rainbow"
University of Tennessee Press Site - Sample Pages from People of the Rainbow
Selected Quotes Interspersed With an Extensive Review by Stephen Wing -- from the unofficial Rainbow Family Website.
People of the Rainbow is printed on archival quality low-acid recycled paper with a minimum life expectancy of 300 years. It contains 25 photos, a comprehensive index and a glossary.
Site Updated October 2011