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 (, 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


Press Release


Winnemem Wintu


For immediate release: Dec. 9, 2013


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




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. 


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 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 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:

    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!

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:


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.


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 –

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



beef roast stew


browned hamburger

chicken, precooked and frozen for dishes

Vegetarian stews (packaged and frozen)

Chili beans (packaged and frozen)


fresh vegetables like

summer squash








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


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 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 (, 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!