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.

 

 

Save salmon and sacred sites: Speak out against the Shasta Dam raise by Sept. 30!

shastadamprotestTime is running out to submit a public comment to the Bureau of Reclamation telling them. The dam raise would destroy several miles of potential salmon spawning grounds on the McCloud and would submerge or damage nearly 40 sacred sites, including our Coming of Age ceremony site.

The dam is being raised to the cost of $1 billion to increase statewide water storage by less than one percent, and to send water to Southern California real estate developments in the desert and to Big Ag, which sell the water at a profit.

But you can make a difference! But you must act, the deadline is Sept. 30!

  • Sign this petition created by the Sacred Land Film Project. All the signatures will be sent to the Bureau on Sept. 30.
  • E-mail or contact the bureau directly.By mail: Send comments to Katrina Chow, Project Manager, US Bureau of Reclamation, Planning Division, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1893By e-mail: BOR-MPR-SLWRI@usbr.gov

    By phone: (916) 978-5067

    - See more at the Sacred Land Film Project.

  • Check out this sample letter and talking points to help you.

If you or your organization would like to work with us on standing against the dam and submitting comments, contact us at winnememwintutribe@gmail.com!

Beedi Yalumina! Never give up!

Surviving Shasta Dam: Winnemem Film Events Sept. 14-21

warriorssThis year, the Bureau of Reclamation is “celebrating” the 75th anniversary of the Shasta Dam construction Sept. 15-21.

Of course, the tribal perspective on the Shasta Dam is that is hardly something to celebrate. To make room for the reservoir, the BOR stole our lands, destroyed our salmon run, and submerged our burial grounds and sacred sites.

Many Winnemem were left homeless, and we still have yet to receive to the “like lands” that were promised to use in the 1941 Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which authorized the stealing of our land.

If you want to learn about the full history of the Shasta Dam, you can attend our three film events during the week.

Standing on Sacred Ground – Pilgrims and Tourists – World Premiere
  • 6 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. film.  Sept. 14, Cascade Theater, Redding, Calif.
  • $35 for the reception and film. $12 for the film.
  •  About the film: Russian shamans and a northern California tribe both confront massive government projects—and find common ground. This film is Episode One of the new four-part documentary series Standing on Sacred Ground, which chronicles the struggles of eight native communities around the world facing threats to lands of spiritual, cultural, and environmental significance. The first hour-long episode tells the stories of indigenous people of the Altai Republic of Russia and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of northern California. Altaians are fighting a proposed natural gas pipeline that threatens their sacred Ukok Plateau while the Winnemem oppose the raising of Shasta Dam, which would flood traditional dance grounds, ancient villages and burials, and numerous sacred sites. – See more at: http://www.sacredland.org/u-s-premiere-of-pilgrims-and-tourists-on-sept-14/#sthash.OUrkqrFW.dpuf

 

Surviving Shasta Dam: Dancing Salmon Home and Over Troubled Water
  • 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.
  • John Beaudet Building, 4150 Ashbury Court, Shasta Lake City
  • $7 Suggested Donation
  • Q&A to follow with Winnemem Wintu representative and filmmaker Will Doolittle

 

Surviving Shasta Dam: Dancing Salmon Home and Over Troubled Water (Encore screening)
  • 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19.
  • John Beaudet Building, 4150 Ashbury Court, Shasta Lake City
  • $7 Suggested Donation
  • Q&A to follow with Winnemem Wintu representative and filmmaker Will Doolittle

About the films:

Dancing Salmon Home: This award-winning 60-minute documentary tells a story of loss and reunification, as the Winnemem Wintu tribe of northern California journeys to New Zealand — to meet their long-lost salmon relatives, missing from their river for 65 years, and to set in motion their plan to bring them home. Along the way, the 28 tribal members hold four days of ceremony beside New Zealand’s Rakaia River, forging enduring bonds with the Maori people of the region, and sharing a message of respect for the natural world.

Dancing Salmon Home-Trailer, 6 min. from Moving Image on Vimeo.

Over Troubled Water:

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, is a national treasure being squandered by greed. In this visually rich documentary, Ed Begley, Jr. narrates the story of the battle being fought by the people of the Delta to protect the region they love and to encourage saner water policies for the Golden State and all the people of California. Here you will see the powerful forces arrayed against the Delta and the history of promises broken by the government. Here you will see the habitat, fisheries, farming, and communities that are threatened by the mistaken ideas that drive California’s water policy today. And here you will see common-sense, affordable solutions that can lead to true water security for California in the 21st century.

Coonrod Ceremony Info and Food Donations

Sunrise Ceremony at the Meadow with Mt. Shasta in view.

Sunrise Ceremony at the Meadow with Mt. Shasta in view.

Our Coonrod Ceremony will be Aug. 8-11 at Coonrod Flat near Mt. Shasta. The sacred fire will be lit Thursday. The salmon challenge will be Saturday. We will have a sunrise ceremony on Sunday. There will be also a prayer run/walk.

Dancing will be every day.

The cook tent is open for the duration of the ceremony, and we will feed ceremony guests. Be sure to bring snacks and consider bringing a food donation (list below). Try to bring your own plates and silverware or compostable silverware.

Directions

Take I-5 to Hwy 89 to McCloud, pass McCloud City about 2 miles to Pilgrim Creek Rd. turn left, go about 9 miles and you will see sign on dirt road, go about 1/4 mile and there is the camp.

Ceremony Rules

Here is a cultural guide to ceremony: Coonrod eloquence rules.

Stuff to Bring

Insect spray, your own chair, flashlights, camping gear, first aid kids, any prescription medicines you require, hats, sunscreen, water canteens, swimsuits and towels. Plastic Bottled water is banned at ceremony.

It can get very cold at night, so bring sweaters, fleeces and blankets.

Food Donations

If you are coming to ceremony, please consider bringing a food donation.

Meals are an important part of our ceremonies, and it is our responsibility to feed all who attend, But as a small tribe with limited resources, we need assistance, especially it will be hard to estimate how many will attend. Here is the list.

Please email what you’re going to bring to the ceremony cook, Ricardo Torres – torresdow@aol.com.

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.

We need mayonnaise,

spaghetti sauce,

salad dressings

Rice,

flour,

sugar

Rice milk, lactaid milk,

almond milk.

Thank you from the Winnemem, and the Fight for Justice Continues Continues!

thank you photoWe are happy to report that our Coming of Age ceremony for 16-year-old Alicia was held in complete privacy and dignity with no major disruptions.
The ceremony was held July 20-23 on the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake (Winnemem Waywaket to us). Alicia spent most of the four days on the other side of the river in a traditional bark hut. She made acorn soup and ground traditional medicines. She learned from the elder women, and then became a woman by swimming across the river. Then we sang and danced for her, and held a big feast.
The day before the ceremony, the Forest Service presented a special use permit and closure order that were acceptable to us. They included an exclusion to the order for our boat, which last year they said was impossible. Now we have a letter that is an exclusion to the order.
They also said last year that the closure to the land area was impossible, but this year they provided language for us to keep out uninvited people on land.
They also said last year they couldn’t control the law enforcement officers, who tried to put our chief in prison last year.
But this year, they had control over the law enforcement officers, and kept them out of sight, available only if we absolutely needed them.
The Forest Service did the right thing this year, but we don’t believe they would have done the right thing if it wasn’t for all the support we received. Thank you to everyone who wrote, called and emailed the Forest Service on our behalf.
One of the many injustices we face today has been corrected by your good hearts! Hee chala baskin! Still, we believe there will be challenges in the future.
The water level was so extremely low on the river, that it was impassable for boats anyway. And the extreme heat probably kept recreation activity at a minimum.
“The Forest Service did a good thing this year,” said Traditional Chief Caleen Sisk. “But the real test will be future years when the water is high, and boats are around.”The Chief also announced that the tribe will be holding a Coming of Age ceremony next year for Kayla Brown.We hope that in the coming months, we will be able to negotiate with the Forest Service a way to kept in the loop about the water levels at the ceremony site. That way we can hopefully schedule a ceremony when the water level is at a good level for the swim.

Ceremony Direction

McCloud Bridge MapIf you are friend, family or a volunteer, here is how you get to the McCloud Bridge Campground, the site of our Coming of Age ceremony for Alicia July 20-23.

It is in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, north of Redding, California.

Here is the Forest Service page.

Take I-5 and get off the Salt Creek Exit #697. Follow the signs and head East on Gilman Road.

Take Gilman Road for about 16 miles past Hirz Bay and Past Pine Point. Cross the bridge and the campground will be on the right.

Statement regarding status of Forest Service negotiations for Balas Chonas (Coming of Age Ceremony)

7/2/13 –We are very concerned at the status of negotiations with the US Forest Service for a Balas Chonas (Coming of Age Ceremony) for sixteen year-old Alicia Scholfield, scheduled to take place in 18 days. After two meetings and numerous phone and email interactions with the regional level Tribal Liaison, Robert Goodwin, we have suddenly, without notice or discussion, been shifted down to the “Forest” level, and told that we would now be dealing with personnel of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, where we have found little respect over the past ten years. Despite key local staff disregard for prior agreements, and lack of cultural awareness, the regional and national management of the Forest Service wants us to believe that this office will do its very best to ensure that we are able to hold a ceremony in peace and dignity, without abusive interruptions by members of the public or law enforcement officers.Furthermore, while on the one hand we are told that our international awareness campaign is having an affect, and that high level personnel of the Department of Agriculture are interested in our situation, on the other hand we are informed that, not being a “federally recognized” tribe, we are not worthy of protection against intrusion into our ceremonial activities. So, overall, we are not convinced that this agency wants to shift away from obstruction toward cooperation.

Beyond US Federal law, which we believe affords us the right to hold ceremony on our traditional lands without interruption, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which President Obama endorsed in 2010, specifically addresses our rights in this situation. As noted in the 2012 “Indian Sacred Sites” Report to the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture:

“Article 12 declares the right of indigenous peoples to manifest, practice, develop, and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies; to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites…”
It is time for the US Forest Service to work with all tribal people, and in this case the Winnemem Wintu of the McCloud River, and act in a way that will help promote healthy Native communities.
Women_Banner_Poster 3_2013(1)
We are at a critical point, and we ask Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to personally ensure that this ceremony — which is of critical importance to the women and men of our tribe, young and old alike — will be approached by his agency’s personnel with the respect that it deserves. We call on our supporters worldwide to continue to contact Chief Tidwell (ttidwell@fs.fed.us, 202-205-8439) to let him know that you are looking forward to a peaceful and dignified Coming of Age Ceremony for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that this spiritual event can proceed with dignity and without interruption, and if that can happen with the cooperation and support of the US Forest Service, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Government in general, then everyone will be able to celebrate!

Coming of Age Ceremony food donations

women are sacred centerOur Coming of Age ceremony for Alicia Scholfield will be held July 20-23 at the McCloud Bridge campground in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Dancing will be every day.

The cook tent is open for the duration of the ceremony, and we will feed ceremony guests. Be sure to bring snacks and please bring a food donation (list below). Try to bring your own plates and silverware or compostable silverware.

The tradition is that we cook what people bring. Making dishes ahead of time and bringing them to ceremony frozen is extremely helpful.

If you have specific dietary needs – vegan, gluten-free, etc. – be sure to bring food that can made into those types of dishes.

Stuff to Bring

Insect spray, your own chair, flashlights, camping gear, first aid kids, any prescription medicines you require, hats, sunscreen, water canteens, swimsuits and towels. Plastic Bottled water is banned at ceremony.

Food Donations

If you are coming to ceremony, please consider bringing a food donation.

Meals are an important part of our ceremonies, and it is our responsibility to feed all who attend, But as a small tribe with limited resources, we need assistance, especially it will be hard to estimate how many will attend. Here is the list.

Please email what you’re going to bring to the head of the ceremony kitchen , Joe - josephsimmons.210@gmail.com.

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.

We need mayonnaise,

spaghetti sauce,

salad dressings

Rice,

flour,

sugar

Rice milk, lactaid milk,

almond milk.

Press Release: Winnemem Wintu Seek Volunteers, Donations to Hold Coming of Age Ceremony in Peace and Dignity

For Immediate Release:

 

Winnemem Wintu Seek Volunteers, Donations to Hold Coming of Age Ceremony in Peace and Dignity

 

After harassment from boaters and law enforcement in previous years, U.S. Forest Service still not committed to river and land closure for ceremony

June 10, 2013 – Tuiimyali, California

 

Press Contact: David Martinez – (530) 472-1050, Michael Preston – 530-410-9768

 

The Winnemem Wintu tribe is seeking volunteers and donations to help enforce a half-mile closure of the McCloud River to maintain the peace and dignity of their upcoming Coming of Age ceremony for 16-year-old Alicia Scholfield July 20-23.

Previous ceremonies have faced documented harassment, but the U.S. Forest Service, which now manages the former Winnemem village site where the ceremony takes place, has yet to respond to the tribe’s list of needs and requirements to hold a ceremony.

The tribe initially contacted the U.S. Forest Service’s Regional Forester Randy Moore in November of 2012 to consult about the upcoming ceremony, and received no response till March. Now two months away from the ceremony, the Forest Service has yet to respond to the tribe’s list of needs, which include a mandatory river closure of the half-mile stretch of waterway, the right to gather culturally required forest resources and the right to use a motorboat to transport elders across the river for ceremonial activities.

With or without the official closure, the tribe plans to use volunteers in kayaks and other boats to ask people in recreational boats to turn around. Donations are also needed to help support the volunteers on the water, fund security and for ceremonial meals.

Supporters can donate by pressing the donate button at www.winnememwintu.us. They can volunteer to help on the water by emailing us at winnememwintutribe@gmail.com.

We are also asking supporters to e-mail U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell at ttidwell@fs.fed.us urging him to uphold his legal responsibility to respect indigenous ceremonies and meet our needs for a peaceful ceremony.

Since 2006, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe have struggled to hold Coming of Age ceremonies (BaŁas Chonas) free of harassment and abuse. In 2006 and 2010, recreational boaters ignored “voluntary” closures on the McCloud River and drunkenly harassed and flashed the tribe. In 2012, Forest Service law enforcement officers constantly interrupted the ceremony and threatened tribal members with arrest. Our Traditional Chief Sisk Caleen Sisk received two citations that could have resulted in a year in prison.

Eventually, the meritless citations were dropped by federal attorneys.

(Watch the 20-minute documentary “Ceremony Is Not A Crime” to learn more about last year’s ceremony and the citations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oZhIZZBjIc&feature=player_embedded)

U.S. Forest Service officials have said they could easily provide a river closure and protect the ceremony appropriately if we were not labeled as a federally unrecognized tribe. The Winnemem Wintu believe the label of “unrecognized tribe” violates our right to self-determination as provided by the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and we believe it is also a form of cultural genocide as it restricts our rights to maintain our culture and lives as indigenous people.

The ceremony site is located on a portion of the McCloud River that would be permanently submerged by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet to provide more water for agri-industry and wealthy water contractors in Southern California. Overall, more than 40 sacred sites important  to the Winnemem’s way of life would be submerged or impacted by the dam raise.

For more information about the ceremony, visit www.saveourceremony.com.

Dancing Salmon Home May Screenings in Northern California

Dancing Salmon Home, winner of the American Indian Film Festival best documentary award, will be having screenings around California. Here are some upcoming dates:

  • Thursday, May 9 – ArcataDancing Salmon Home Film ShowingQ & A with the film’s director, Will Doolittle and Chief Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu TribeHumboldt State University7:00 pm

    Native American Forum (Behavior and Social Sciences Bldg, Rm 162)

    1 Harpst St, Arcata

    Tickets: $7

     

  • Friday, May 10 – Smith RiverDancing Salmon Home Film Showing & DinnerQ & A with the film’s director, Will Doolittle and Chief Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu Tribe6 pm

    Howonquet Hall Community Center

    101 Indian Court

    Smith River, CA

    [No ticket info yet]

     

  • Saturday, May 11 – HoopaDancing Salmon Home Film Showing & DinnerQ & A with the film’s director, Will Doolittle and Chief Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu TribeHoopa Neighborhood Facility

    4:00-6:00 pm: Turkey Dinner – $7.00/Plate

    6:00 pm: Film Showing – $7 General; $5 Seniors & Children

     

Synopsis: Dancing Salmon Home tells the story of a journey of loss and reunification, across generations and oceans, as the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Northern California travels to New Zealand to meet their long-lost Chinook salmon relatives, which have been missing from their McCloud River homeland for 65 years.

Along the way, the 28 tribal members hold four days of ceremony beside New Zealand’s Rakaia River, forging enduring bonds with the Maori people of the region, sharing a message of respect for the natural world, and launching plans to bring their salmon home.

Dancing Salmon Home-Trailer, 6 min. from Moving Image on Vimeo.