AJR 39 and NAHC Letter

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe has been working for more than two decades to correct an administrative error that has left us without federal tribal recognition. We have worked to generate support from various individuals and groups including a Joint Resolution of the California State Legislature and a letter of support from the Native American Heritage Commission.

The California Native American Heritage Commission would like to express support for restoration of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s status as a federally recognized Native American tribe. The Winnemem Wintu tribe has a long history of interaction with the federal government, beginning with its signing of the unratified Cottonwood Treaty of 1851. The tribe was later awarded allotments under the Cleveland Administration and in 1914 won the support of Interior Department officials for a proposal to provide reservation lands.
Since 1941 the Winnemem Wintu Tribe has held title to a Federal Indian Cemetery as well as a 42-acre tract of former allotment land that the tribes wishes to have converted into trust status. Winnemem leaders assert that many members of the tribe need housing and have been unable to secure loans because the land remains in fee status. The tribe believes that its loss of federal recognition caused by a mistake and alleges that due to a this error, members been unable to obtain educational grants, health services and other federal programs specifically available to “federally recognized” tribal groups.

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe has actively participated in the continuation of Winnemem traditions and in cultural resource protection throughout their tribal lands. The tribe has assisted the Native American Heritage Commission on many traditional cultural resource preservation issues such as the Shasta Dam, the Sacred Lands Conference, and California Senate Bill 18 (Sacred Lands Protection).

JR 39, as introduced, Huffman. Winnemem Wintu Tribe: federal
reaffirmation.
This measure would memorialize the President and Congress of the
United States, and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the
United States Department of the Interior, to reaffirm that the
Winnemem Wintu Tribe possesses full federal recognition and all the
rights and privileges that arise from that status
.
Fiscal committee: no.

WHEREAS, The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is a sovereign Indian Nation,
located in Shasta and Siskiyou Counties in California, and consists
of 122 enrolled and documented members, with its tribal headquarters
located in Jones Valley, California, on the site of the Wintu Village
named “Tuiimayallii”; and
WHEREAS, The leaders of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe met with
representatives of the United States for treaty negotiations, and a
treaty was signed by both the tribal leaders and the United States at
Reading’s Ranch on August 15, 1851; and

WHEREAS, The Winnemem Wintu Tribe was thus recognized by the
United States Government as early as 1851; and

WHEREAS, The Winnemem Wintu Tribe again conducted negotiations
with the federal government in 1889 through the presentation of a
letter known as the “Wintu/Yana Petition” to President Benjamin
Harrison; and

WHEREAS, The result of that petition was the sending of special
Indian agents from the Department of the Interior to California who
were given the task of securing land for landless and homeless
Indians, particularly the Winnemem Wintu; and

WHEREAS, Special Indian Agent John Terrell conducted a census of
the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in 1915 for inclusion in the government land
purchase efforts; and

WHEREAS, The federal government failed in its mission to secure
land for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe as a whole, and instead granted
individual land allotments to some tribal members (Allotment,
non-Reservation Indians), in areas known at the time to be in danger
of inundation by the rising waters of the planned Shasta Dam, as
cited by Special Indian Agent John Terrell in his correspondence to
the Department of the Interior; and

WHEREAS, During the years 1935 to 1943, inclusive, the federal
government began removing tribal burials for reinterment in the
United States Government Shasta Reservoir Indian Cemetery, held in
trust status by the United States; and

WHEREAS, Up through 1985, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe received
federal education, housing, and health services offered through the
Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Forest Services, and the
United States Fish and Wildlife Services, to federally recognized
Indian tribes and bands; and

WHEREAS, Title to at least some of the allotments issued to
Winnemem Wintu tribal members as recorded in the 1915 census created
by United States Indian agents are still held in trust on those
members’ behalf by the United States, and the United States continues
to forward trust income to some members in acknowledgment of those
relationships, demonstrating that the special trust relationship
between the United States and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and its
members has never been terminated, only misplaced; and

WHEREAS, Since 1985, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe has not been listed
as an Indian tribe by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, even though it
was never officially terminated as one and although it continues to
have land held in trust by the United States on its behalf and have
government-to-government relations with other agencies of the federal
government; and

WHEREAS, Due to the tribe’s omission from the list of federally
recognized tribal entities, members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe have
been denied access to federal services such as education, housing,
and health services under federal programs established for federally
recognized Native American tribes, and the tribe does not receive the
protections provided by Congress for members of federally recognized
tribes; and

WHEREAS, Numerous state and federal agencies have recognized or
currently recognize the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, including, but not
limited to, all of the following:
(1) The California Native American Heritage Commission, which
lists the Winnemem Wintu Tribe as a legitimate California tribe.
(2) The United States Bureau of Reclamation, which issued the
Winnemem Wintu Tribe a permit to hold traditional ceremonies on the
Shasta Dam.
(3) The United States Forest Service, which signed a memorandum of
understanding committing to consult with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe
when working in traditional tribal lands and managing sacred sites.
(4) The United States Forest Service, which has posted information
about the Winnemem Wintu Tribe at interpretive facilities at Fowlers
Campground, Middle Falls, and at the entrance to Panther Meadows on
Mount Shasta.
(5) The Department of Transportation, which signed a memorandum of
understanding with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to consult with the
tribe when transit projects encroach upon tribal land.
(6) The federal government, which signed the Cottonwood Treaty of
1851 that was not ratified, but has never been withdrawn.
(7) Until the mid-1980′s, members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe
received United States Bureau of Indian Affairs housing, health care,
and educational assistance available only to members of recognized
tribes; and

WHEREAS, The Winnemem Wintu Tribe can document injustice at the
hands of the federal government since the 1851 treaty to recognize
the tribe was signed by the United States Representative but lost
prior to registry in Washington D.C.; and

WHEREAS, The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is an historic and traditional
band of California Indians whose people are the keepers of their
religious places and practices and upon whose shoulders is placed the
burden of carrying forward the religion, traditions, culture, and
teachings of and for their people and who seek restoration of their
federal recognition for cultural purposes, not for Indian gaming
purposes; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of
California, jointly, That the Legislature respectfully memorializes
the President and Congress of the United States, and the Assistant
Secretary for Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the
Interior to reaffirm that the Winnemem Wintu Tribe possesses full
federal recognition and all the rights and privileges that arise from
that status, including immediate inclusion of the tribe in the list
published in the Federal Register under the relevant provisions of
Title I of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994
(Public Law 103-454); and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of
this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United
States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to each
Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the
United States, and to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in
the United States Department of the Interior.