‘We’ll take it with a grain of salt’: Wildflower boutique owner says she will ‘take it with grace’
The owner of a boutique in rural Maine that sells floral-themed merchandise is “100%” prepared to go to court to challenge an order from the U.S. Forest Service to close its doors, but is concerned that she will “take it in a grain-of-salt way” with a lawsuit.
Kelley Anderson said she received a letter from the Forest Service on Feb. 18 saying the Wildflower Boutique in Middletown, Maine, was violating the U-S-20 rule and was “in danger of losing the protection that’s granted under the UNAuthorized Access Act.”
In a blog post Wednesday, Anderson explained that the law requires the Forest Department to make a decision on whether to grant a permit to a store that sells merchandise from Native American tribes or businesses owned by Native American individuals.
The Forest Service is trying to “reduce the number of unauthorized visitors to the lands” and the Wildflowers Boutique, she said, is in the midst of “increasingly large crowds of people and businesses.”
The Wildflower Boutique owner said she had been “in a legal battle for months” with the Forest Services, but the department was able to get the store’s permit to stay open “for a couple of weeks,” even though it had been closed for several months because of a lack of funding.
“This has been a constant fight.
We’ve been at it for a long time,” Anderson said in the blog post.
“This is one of the things we were fighting for.”
Anderson said she was “surprised” when the Forest Office told her the store was not eligible to stay in the UAV rule, and she said she will continue to fight the order to keep the WildFlowers Boutiques operation open.
“I have fought this for a year and I will fight this for as long as the Forest Dept. keeps asking me to do so,” Anderson wrote.
The Wildflower Festival, which was created in the 1960s, is the largest and most popular Native American-owned festival in the United States.
The festival is held annually on the first Friday of May.
The Wildflower Weekend, which started in 1967, draws thousands of participants from across the country.
In response to the Forest’s latest order, Anderson said that “the only way that Wildflowing Boutiques will survive is to remain open for as much time as possible.”
Wildflower Festival organizers have not yet responded to Fox News’ request for comment.
The U.N. International Indigenous Arts Alliance (IIAA), which represents Native American artists, said it is “disappointed” with Forest officials’ decision to close the Wildfarms Boutiques, adding that the Forest has “no legal authority to issue such an order.”
“It’s clear that the UAA, the Forest, and the state of Maine are attempting to make their own decisions about the safety and viability of the Wild Flower Festival,” IIAA said in a statement.
“It’s important to remember that this is a festival in which all Native American traditions, arts, and people are valued.
We urge everyone to remain calm, and stay engaged in this fight.”
In 2016, IIAAA called for the Forest to close all of the state’s land-use reservations in order to create “a safe space for people of all ages, cultures, and languages” and said it would support the Wild Festival’s closure if the Forest Administration “recognizes the importance of the cultural and indigenous identities of Native Americans and all of Maine’s other stakeholders.”
Anderson, a native of New Hampshire, said she and her husband, John Anderson, who are both Native American, have been working with the Wild Flowers Festival for more than a decade.
They have been fighting to keep Wildflows Boutiques operating for years, Anderson wrote, but “it’s been frustrating and frustrating.”
“We want to be open to the public, but there is just no way that we can continue to operate as we have,” she wrote.
“The Forest will not close the event and it will not be allowed to be closed.
I am so excited about the possibility that we will be able to keep this place open.”