PRESS RELEASE: Winnemem Wintu Partners with GoFundMe to Finance First Ever Salmon Relocation and Restoration Project

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Winnemem Wintu Partners with GoFundMe to Finance First Ever Salmon Relocation and Restoration Project

Press Contacts:

Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu Hereditary Chief and Spiritual Leader

caleenwintu@gmail.com

(530) 229-4096
Gary Mulcahy, Government Liaison

gary@ranchriver.com

(916) 214-8493

Michael Preston (Pomtahatot Tuiimyali), Cultural Preservation Officer

wintu530@gmail.com

(530) 440-6270

JamesSalmonREDDING, Calif. – After a seven-year campaign to get the attention of federal agencies, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is poised to take a major step in bringing home the descendants of the McCloud River Chinook salmon from the rivers of New Zealand. With California salmon runs at risk of extinction, we’re partnering with GoFundMe this month to raise $85,000 to fund the first phase of our project before it’s too late. 

At a time when climate change, dams and industrial water extraction for Big Ag threaten the future of California’s salmon, federal biologists agree with the Winnemem Wintu that salmon must return to the glacial waters of the McCloud River above Shasta Dam in order to survive.

This June, the tribe and our allies are joining forces with GoFundMe to raise $85,000. This will help fund the collection of samples of the winter-run salmon in New Zealand’s. These salmon are descendants of the same salmon that once spawned in the McCloud River. UC-Davis fish biologists will perform DNA testing on these samples to prove to the federal government that these are indeed the direct descendants of the McCloud River winter run salmon.

This will be the first phase of the Winnemem’s plan to bring home the wild chinook salmon that once ran in the millions and were the center of the tribe’s spiritual and cultural world. More than 70 years since the last salmon spawned in the McCloud River, we’re asking for good hearted people to join us in our historic efforts to return the salmon through a plan based on indigenous leadership and traditional ecological knowledge.

In the late 1800s and early 1900’s, federal fish culturists shipped winter-run salmon from the McCloud River around the world. While our salmon thrived in the Rakaia River in New Zealand, they were blocked from returning to the McCloud River in the 1940s with the construction of Shasta Dam, a project that also flooded the Winnemem homelands.

After years of meetings with the US Bureau of Reclamation and NOAA Fisheries and a successful lobbying during the 2016 Run4Salmon, the  Bureau of Reclamation agreed to support the tribe’s project by setting aside partial funding for the first phase in support of the sample gathering, but an additional $85,000 is needed to ensure the samples are collected this spawning season. The tribe’s ultimate plan for the salmon’s return involves building a swimway using existing creeks around the dam to the McCloud River so the salmon can be restored to their rightful place in the natural world.
Read our plan to return the salmon here: http://www.water.ca.gov/fishpassage/docs/shasta_winnemem.pdf
To build support last fall, Chief Caleen Sisk led the Run4Salmon, a two-week journey tracing the historical path of our salmon from the mouth of the Bay-Delta estuary to the McCloud River. The Run4Salmon was a prayer for the protection of the waters, the restoration of the salmon and continuance of indigenous lifeways that are currently under attack by Gov. Jerry Brown’s  Delta Tunnels proposal, Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam, and other mega-projects that would further degrade our rivers and the estuary the salmon need to survive.
Just as DAPL threatens the future of the Standing Rock Sioux, the threats to salmon endanger the future of the Winnemem Wintu people and other California salmon tribes. The salmon are vital to clean rivers and reducing the temperatures in our waterways, making their survival important for all humans, especially as we face the challenges of climate change. That is why we fight for them.

STATEMENTS

Chief Caleen Sisk: “This is our pipeline, and we have to wake the people up before we are standing in front of bulldozers because we will do that also”

Gary Mulcahy: “We are setting out to do something that has never been done before.”

Corrina Gould:  “. . .The salmon that came up our rivers and took care of my ancestors are the same salmon that spawn on Chief Caleen’s river and took care of her ancestors as well.”

 

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