After many years of blood, sweat and tears, we finally filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies in April 2009 seeking redress for the numerous ways the government has failed to live up to its obligations and trampled upon our basic human rights. In doing so, they’ve threatened the survival of our culture and our way of life.
The lawsuit was filed against six federal agencies and two current heads of federal agencies. It alleges that their actions have resulted in the destruction or damage of our sacred cultural sites. This is not about seeking federal recognition, we just want the human rights abuses that we’ve suffered to stop, with or without recognition.
Under the auspices of the Miwok tribe, we first held a day-long war dance at a site on the American River just outside downtown Sacramento, a continuation of the war dance held on the Shasta Dam in 2004. The following day we marched with hundreds of supporters to the capitol building where we delivered the suit with our Pro Bono lawyers from the New York-based Reed Smith LLC.
The government has since responded, seeking the case to be thrown out and we’ve responded in turn. The legal process is ongoing and there may not be a conclusion in the near future. But we are keeping the sacred fire lit here at our village, Tuiimyali, and continue to pray the court does what’s right.
Here is our original complaint.
Coverage of the lawsuit:
- “Winnemem Wintu sues for destruction of cultural sites“, Indian Country Today, May 7, 2009
- “Native American tribe files lawsuit against federal government,” Capital Public Radio, April 20, 2009
- “Winnemem Wintu sues federal agencies, officials“, Indybay, April 20, 2009
- “California Tribe sues for destruction of cultural sites,” Free Speech Radio News, April 23, 2009