Press Release: Dam The Indians Anyway – Winnemem WAR DANCE at Shasta Dam

Winnemem Wintu Tribe                                    www.winnememwintu.us.

Media Contact: Charlotte Berta

Cell: 916-207-2378

Email: char@ranchriver.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 9, 2014

NOTE: PRESS CONFERENCE: 3 PM 9/10/14 AT SHASTA DAM SITE

 

Redding, Calif. –The Winnemem (McCloud River) Wintu Tribe will hold a “War Dance” at Shasta Dam, north of Redding, Calif., beginning September 11th through September 15th.  The War Dance is in response to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal to raise the dam, which threatens to submerge many Winnemem sacred sites and village areas. The Winnemem lost much of their homelands and their salmon when the dam was first constructed. “Any raising of the dam, even a few feet, will flood some of our last remaining sacred sites on the McCloud River – sites we still use today,” says Caleen Sisk , Winnemem Chief and Spiritual Leader.  “We can’t be Winnemem any place else but the McCloud River. The dam raise is a form of cultural genocide.”

The Winnemem invoked the War Dance in 1887 against a fish hatchery on the McCloud River that threatened the salmon and the Winnemem way of life. . Again The Winnemem held a War Dance at the dam in 2004 to commit themselves to the protection of their land and their salmon.  Now, the Winnemem face even more of their sacred sites and culture being submerged by the dam  “We gave up a lot of our homeland for the sake of the California people, and got nothing in return.  Now the government wants to take our sacred places, and again we get nothing in return.  How is this fair, over and over again?”  “This is not right Chief Sisk said.  “This is too much to ask of a people.”

On September 11, 2014 at a site near Shasta Dam, just before dusk, a sacred ceremonial fire will be lit, and the Winnemem War Dancers will fast for the full four days of the ceremony.. For the next 4 days, the fire, the drum, the songs and the dance will carry the prayers of the Winnemem people. The dance is being held under a permit issued by The Bureau of Reclamation. (BOR)  The Tribe has held numerous meetings with the BOR to raise questions about the feasibility of the BOR’s plans, the impacts it will have on the tribe and their way of life, and the troubled history between the tribe and the BOR.  Yet, BOR is going ahead with plans to raise the dam and will submit it’s final EIS/EIR to the Secretary of Interior in December, and anticipates the final project plan will be submitted to Congress for approval no later then March 2015.

When Shasta Dam was first proposed, Congress passed a law (55 Stat 612) authorizing the federal government to take the lands and burial grounds that the Winnemem had for a thousand years. Promises were made to the Tribe in 55 Stat 612 that still have not been kept. The Tribe is asking that the BOR fulfill 55 Stat 612 to resolve these long standing debts as well as fully comply with NEPA, NHPA, and other laws that protect sacred and historic sites. The Tribe has consistently requested that the BOR, study alternatives to raising the dam such as better management practices for existing reservoirs and conservation options, as well as better protection of the fish populations. Raising the dam will damage, destroy and inundate cultural resources along the McCloud River, sites that are vital to future generations and are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as Traditional Cultural Properties.

For more information, visit www.winnememwintu.us.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PRESS CONFERENCE, INTERVIEWS, or PHOTOGRAPHY:

CALL Charlotte Berta  – Cell: 916-207-2378  or email: char@ranchriver.com

 

War Dance Location Information:

Shasta Dam Bureau of Reclamation
16349 Shasta Dam Boulevard
Shasta Lake, California 96019
Lat/Long 40.7140, -122.4176

Show address on Google Map 

 

Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk To Report on Racial Discrimination of Federal Tribal Recognition at the United Nations in Geneva

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2014

Media Contact: Chief Caleen Sisk, (530) 229-4096; Tribal Spokesperson, Michael Preston, (530) 410-9768

Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk

Chief Sisk to Represent Federally Unrecognized Tribes at the 85th session of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

TUIIMYALI, CA – Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk is one of five indigenous leaders from North America chosen to present at the United Nations’ 85th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which well be held Aug. 11-16 in Geneva, Switzerland.

At the session, she will present a three-minute intervention about the discriminatory nature of the U.S. government’s label of “federally unrecognized tribe”, which has been applied to dozens of historical California tribes because they were not on the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ original list of “federally recognized” tribes in 1978.

The CERD is a body of human rights experts who monitor the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was ratified in 1965.

“The label of ‘unrecognized’ dehumanizes our tribes and puts us in a ‘less than’ category even though many of us, including the Winnemem, have a well-documented history as a tribe,” Sisk said. “Every step we take to try to support and revitalize our traditions, preserve our language, and practice our culture is blocked by this label.”

Without federal recognition, the Winnemem Wintu are barred from owning religious items such as eagle feathers, can’t access BIA scholarships and are ineligible for protection under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and Indian Child Welfare Act.

More specifically, the lack of federal recognition has prevented the Winnemem from securing the necessary privacy to hold their Coming of Age Ceremonies on the McCloud River. It has also limited the Winnemem’s ability to intervene in with the U.S. government’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam, which would submerge or damage nearly 40 sacred sites integral to Winnemem culture.

Previous to receiving the funding to attend, Chief Sisk and the tribe submitted a so-called “shadow report” to the CERD, outlining the tribe’s history and the ways the federal recognition policy results in racial discrimination against historical tribes.

“I hope that we can raise awareness that the U.S. has problems in honoring the rights of its indigenous peoples, and we need to bring to light that the U.S. has created a false caste system in Indian Country,” Sisk said. “Tribes don’t deserve to be treated like we are.”

Learn more about the CERD: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/

Learn more about the Winnemem Wintu: www.winnememwintu.org

Read the Winnemem’s Shadow Report Presented to the CERD: Winnemem Wintu shadow report FINAL-2 copy

 

“Don’t Drown Our Culture” – New Short Doc Demands Senators Boxer and Feinstein Address Winnemem Justice Issues Relating to the Shasta Dam Raise

The proposal to raise the Shasta Dam by 20.5 feet will mostly likely be deemed a “feasible alternative” by the Bureau of Reclamation, and it will almost permanently submerge an estimate 40-50 sacred sites integral to the Winnemem Wintu.

The US government is moving ahead with plans to raise Shasta Dam, in the service of wealthy water districts in California’s Central Valley. Our people, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, were flooded out when the dam was built in 1945, without receiving the compensation promised by Senate Bill 1120. Now we are expected to sacrifice once again.

This project will require a vote in the US Congress. Please contact your Congressperson and Senators and urge them to oppose the plan to raise Shasta Dam.

If you are in California, please let Senators Feinstein and Boxer know that you are against this further injustice against our tribe.

More info and links can be found at www.shastadamraise.com.

What you can do:

Sign the Moveon petition.

Contact your congressional representatives and tell them to vote no on any proposal to raise the dam: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml)

Winnemem’s Sacred Places Endangered by the Shasta Dam Raise Featured in News from Native California

 

mike prestonAn in-depth article based on months of enthnographic research about the Winnemem Wintu’s sacred places and culture that are threatened by the Shasta Dam raise proposal is featured in the latest Native from Native California issue now available.

Titled “Endangered Spaces: A Walk Through Sacred Places with the Winnemem Wintu”, the article was written by Stanford researcher, anthropologist and poet Lyla Johnston (Navajo) who spent several months with the Winnemem Wintu studying their connection to cultural sacred sites that are threatened by the proposal of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to raise the Shasta Dam 20.5 feet.

You can subscribe to the magazine online here: http://newsfromnativecalifornia.com/store/issues/volume-27-no-3-spring-2014/

And you can stop by their publishing house to get your own copy here:

1633 University Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94703

After conducting hours of interviews with Winnemem Wintu tribal members and elders and even more hours doing fieldwork using GIS technology, Johnston concluded in her 2013 thesis project that at least 38 sacred and historical sites of the Winnemem Wintu would be severely affected by the dam raise. Losing access to those sites, she concluded, would cause “an acute and irreversible disruption” to the tribe’s medicinal, spiritual and cultural worlds.

endangered spacesYou can read Johnston’s thesis – “Chonos Pom – Dance Grounds: Ethnic Endemism among the WinnememWintu and the Cultural Impacts of Raising Shasta Reservoir”.

Johnston said the article was a way to give a platform to the many Winnemem who lent their voices to her thesis through the interviews and to help the public understand through storytelling the heartbreaking impact the dam raise would have on the tribe and their way of life.

“Every culture, no matter how small, has the right to exist,” she said. She concluded in her report, “If we are to prevent the extinction of one of the few extant indigenous ethnicities of northern California, we must find an alternative to the proposed project and work towards institutional and legal protection of these cultural support zones on the McCloud River.”

Although the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is still finalizing its various reports on the impact and feasibility of the dam raise, Representative Jim Costa, of Fresno, has introduced a bill, HR 4125 co-signed by a number of California Democratic Congressmen, to raise the dam. Senator Diane Feinstein is also likely to introduce a bill to authorize the raising of the dam.

To support the Winnemem, you can sign our Moveon.org petition against the dam raise.

It is even more effective if you contact your Senators and Congresspeople directly (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml), to remind them that a debt is still owed by the United States to the Winnemem Wintu  people, and ask them to vote NO on any proposal to raise Shasta Dam

Winnemem Seek Food Donations for Balas Chonas (Coming of Age Ceremony)

Chief Sisk receives Marisa as a Winnemem woman after Marisa swam across the river during her ceremony.

Chief Sisk receives Marisa as a Winnemem woman after Marisa swam across the river during her ceremony.

Dear supporters, friends and allies,

Our 2014 Balas Chonas (Coming of Age ceremony) for two young Winnemem ladies is only a few weeks away, and our Ceremony Cook Ricardo is hoping to receive some assistance to help fulfill the ceremony’s tradition of cooking meals with traditional foods for all participants and attendees.

He is especially hoping to receive local Shasta County donations. Everything helps, but he is especially hoping for:

  • fruit
  • salad fixings
  • food that can be brought in, not requiring refrigeration.

E-mail Ricardo at torresdow@aol.com if you would like to donate some food.

If you’d like to make a paypal donation to our non-profit Indian Cultural Organization to support the ceremony, click the button: 

Here is a list of other foods we usually require for ceremony.

Meats (cooked for meals or cooked in stews and already frozen)

venison

salmon

beef roast stew

bacon

browned hamburger

chicken, precooked and frozen for dishes

Vegetarian stews (packaged and frozen)

Chili beans (packaged and frozen)

 

fresh vegetables like

summer squash

onions,

tomatoes,

corn,

chilies,

broccoli

eggplant

lettuce

any kind of veggies, but preferably those which can be used to make a meal with other things.

Fresh fruit and melons for breakfast

Lots of tortillas,

Potatoes for potato salad or breakfast already cooled and bagged up

macaroni already cooked and bagged up

eggs

bread and sandwich fixing.

If bringing cold cuts, they should be frozen and put into the cooler together.

spaghetti sauce,

salad dressings

Rice,

flour,

sugar

Rice milk, lactaid milk,

almond milk.

Sign the Moveon.org Petition to Save Winnemem Culture and Stop the Shasta Dam Raise

winnememshasta raiseSign the Moveon.org petition to tell Congress “NO” to the Shasta dam Raise! You can make a difference to help Winnemem culture survive for future generations!

Is your U.S. representative Doug LaMalfa, whose district includes our ancestral lands? You can make a difference to support Winnemem Wintu cultural survival by telling him not to authorize the proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet.

You can call LaMalfa at (530) 223-5897 or email him by filling out this online form.

Here is a sample letter you can use.

We were flooded out, and not compensated, with the building of the dam in 1945, and now Westlands Water District and the Federal Government are pushing to do it again. This latest proposal would inundate or damage more than 40 sacred sites, including our Coming of Age ceremony place on the Winnemem Waywaqat (McCloud River).

Representative Jim Costa, of Fresno, has introduced a bill, HR 4125 co-signed by a number of California Democratic Congressmen, to raise the dam. No mention of the standing debt to our people. Senator Diane Feinstein is also likely to introduce a bill to authorize the raising of the dam.

If you live in another district, please contact your Senators and Congresspeople (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml), in any state you’re in, to remind them that a debt is still owed by the United States to the Winnemem Wintu  people, and ask them to vote NO on any proposal to raise Shasta Dam.

 

Is Doug LaMalfa Your Congressman? Tell him “No!” to the Shasta Dam Raise

LaMalfa PosterIs your U.S. representative Doug LaMalfa? You can make a difference to support Winnemem Wintu cultural survival by telling him not to authorize the proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet.

You can call LaMalfa at (530) 223-5897 or email him by filling out this online form.

Here is a sample letter you can use.

We were flooded out, and not compensated, with the building of the dam in 1945, and now Westlands Water District and the Federal Government are pushing to do it again. This latest proposal would inundate or damage more than 40 sacred sites, including our Coming of Age ceremony place on the Winnemem Waywaqat (McCloud River).

Representative Jim Costa, of Fresno, has introduced a bill, co-signed by a number of California Democratic Congressmen, to raise the dam. No mention of the standing debt to our people.

If you live in another district, please contact your Senators and Congresspeople (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml), in any state you’re in, to remind them that a debt is still owed by the United States to the Winnemem Wintu  people, and ask them to vote NO on any proposal to raise Shasta Dam.

Learn more about why the dam raise must be stopped at www.shastadamraise.com.

WINNEMEM WINTU REJECT BAY DELTA CONSERVATION PLAN, DENOUNCE IT AS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR SALMON AND VIOLATION OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS

Press Release

 

Winnemem Wintu

 

For immediate release: Dec. 9, 2013

 

For more information: Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader, (530) 710-4817

 

WINNEMEM WINTU REJECT BAY DELTA CONSERVATION PLAN, DENOUNCE IT AS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR SALMON AND VIOLATION OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS

 

Chief Caleen Sisk will speak at rallies in Sacramento today and Friday and re-affirm the Winnemem Wintu opposition’s against the construction of the peripheral water export tunnels and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), as Governor Jerry Brown’s administration releases the preliminary Environmental Impact Report and the BDCP plan to the public today.

 

As California’s State Water Project currently operates, far too much water is sucked from the San Francisco/Sacramento Delta, the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast, and sent to the state’s water brokers, who support unsustainable industrial agriculture, destructive hydraulic fracking for oil extraction and municipal developments in the desert.

 

The proposed peripheral tunnels, with a conservatively estimated price tag of $54 billion, will undoubtedly kill the sensitive Delta, a delicate mix of salt and freshwater, that is vital to the life cycle of California salmon as well as thousands of other fish and species.

 

“There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish? How can they even know what the effects will be?” said Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk.  “The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people.”

 

As one of the many traditional salmon tribes in California, the Winnemem rely on access to salmon to maintain our cultural and religious practices. The peripheral tunnels if ever constructed would therefore be in violation of our indigenous rights to maintain our cultural practices with salmon, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 

Recently at a public meeting in Redding, Governor Brown’s  Deputy Director of the Natural Resources Agency Jerry Meral, disclosed that the peripheral tunnels are connected to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s plan to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet, a project that would destroy or submerge nearly 40 sacred sites and destroy potential salmon spawning areas. We are currently working on plans to re-introduce our salmon above the dam into the McCloud River.

 

The planned Delta tunnels will  require more water be taken from the Trinity River and the Shasta Dam, which is fed by the Upper Sacramento, McCloud and Pit Rivers. This will add even more stress to the struggling ecology of these rivers.

This plan is not meant to benefit the public of California, native and non-native, but purely to line the coffers of the lobbyists who have been buying off Gov. Brown all along, such as Beverly Hills Big Ag billionaire Stewart Resnick and his wife Lynda who contributed $99,000 to his 2010 campaign. The Western States Petroleum Association has spent more than $4.5 million in lobbying the state government in 2013 alone.

 

The peripheral tunnels are a violation of the public’s trust in Gov. Brown, and not the answer to dealing with the state’s forthcoming water shortages. There are better solutions.

The Winnemem are proud to announce that we will be standing with our allies during a press conference today and a rally Friday, Dec. 13 at the West Steps of the Capitol. Chief Sisk will speak.

 

These events are sponsored by Californians for A Fair Water Policy and dozens of other environmental, fishing, farming, government, and water agencies.

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

—Press Conference and Rally at the Capitol

—Location: Starting in Room 112, moving to West Steps if needed

—Starting Time: Noon with 12:30 p.m. press conference – arrive as early as 10:30 for possible walk to California Resources Agency.

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

—Friday the 13th Rally to begin the 120 Day BDCP Response Countdown

—Location: West Steps of the Capitol

—Starting Time: 11:30 a.m.

 

This rally is sponsored by Californians for A Fair Water Policy and dozens of other environmental, fishing, farming, government, and water agencies.

 

To stop this boondoggle please writ letters to Governor Brown expressing your opposition to the peripheral tunnels plan! Letters should be addressed to:

 

Governor Jerry Brown

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

 

 

 

Buy a Dancing Salmon Home DVD today!

The award-winning documentary about our efforts in partnership with our Maori family to return our salmon home from New Zealand is now available on DVD! Go here to order. 

DVD-Marketing-Graphic

Help Return Our Salmon Home – Tell the Feds to Respect Our Indigenous Rights

image_displayAs depicted in the documentary, Dancing Salmon Home, we are desperately trying to return our Chinook salmon home from New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Reclamation, the same agency that is planning to raise Shasta Dam and submerge potential McCloud River spawning grounds, is in charge of selecting the plan for returning salmon above the dam.

We have been asked to submit our salmon plan, but we have no voice to be a decision-maker about the return of salmon to our river in our indigenous territory.

Please urge the Bureau of Reclamation to acknowledge our indigenous rights to be part of the salmon team by calling or e-mailing Sue Fry Manager, Bay-Delta Office, at sfry@usbr.gov or at (916) 414-2400.

You can also download, print and send this postcard – Side A and Side B. Sue Fry is currently refusing to meet with us. 

The tribe is still fighting a Bureau of Reclamation proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet, which would submerge more sacred sites and severely damage the surrounding ecology. The tribe asks that supporters and allies e-mail or call the Bureau’s Commissioner Michael Connor urging him not to submit the Shasta Dam raise proposal for a vote to Congress and support Winnemem cultural survival. He can be reached at comments@usbr.gov and at (202) 513-0501. More information about the dam raise can be found here.