PRESS RELEASE: Winnemem Wintu Partners with GoFundMe to Finance First Ever Salmon Relocation and Restoration Project

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Winnemem Wintu Partners with GoFundMe to Finance First Ever Salmon Relocation and Restoration Project

Press Contacts:

Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu Hereditary Chief and Spiritual Leader

caleenwintu@gmail.com

(530) 229-4096
Gary Mulcahy, Government Liaison

gary@ranchriver.com

(916) 214-8493

Michael Preston (Pomtahatot Tuiimyali), Cultural Preservation Officer

wintu530@gmail.com

(530) 440-6270

JamesSalmonREDDING, Calif. – After a seven-year campaign to get the attention of federal agencies, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is poised to take a major step in bringing home the descendants of the McCloud River Chinook salmon from the rivers of New Zealand. With California salmon runs at risk of extinction, we’re partnering with GoFundMe this month to raise $85,000 to fund the first phase of our project before it’s too late. 

At a time when climate change, dams and industrial water extraction for Big Ag threaten the future of California’s salmon, federal biologists agree with the Winnemem Wintu that salmon must return to the glacial waters of the McCloud River above Shasta Dam in order to survive.

This June, the tribe and our allies are joining forces with GoFundMe to raise $85,000. This will help fund the collection of samples of the winter-run salmon in New Zealand’s. These salmon are descendants of the same salmon that once spawned in the McCloud River. UC-Davis fish biologists will perform DNA testing on these samples to prove to the federal government that these are indeed the direct descendants of the McCloud River winter run salmon.

This will be the first phase of the Winnemem’s plan to bring home the wild chinook salmon that once ran in the millions and were the center of the tribe’s spiritual and cultural world. More than 70 years since the last salmon spawned in the McCloud River, we’re asking for good hearted people to join us in our historic efforts to return the salmon through a plan based on indigenous leadership and traditional ecological knowledge.

In the late 1800s and early 1900’s, federal fish culturists shipped winter-run salmon from the McCloud River around the world. While our salmon thrived in the Rakaia River in New Zealand, they were blocked from returning to the McCloud River in the 1940s with the construction of Shasta Dam, a project that also flooded the Winnemem homelands.

After years of meetings with the US Bureau of Reclamation and NOAA Fisheries and a successful lobbying during the 2016 Run4Salmon, the  Bureau of Reclamation agreed to support the tribe’s project by setting aside partial funding for the first phase in support of the sample gathering, but an additional $85,000 is needed to ensure the samples are collected this spawning season. The tribe’s ultimate plan for the salmon’s return involves building a swimway using existing creeks around the dam to the McCloud River so the salmon can be restored to their rightful place in the natural world.
Read our plan to return the salmon here: http://www.water.ca.gov/fishpassage/docs/shasta_winnemem.pdf
To build support last fall, Chief Caleen Sisk led the Run4Salmon, a two-week journey tracing the historical path of our salmon from the mouth of the Bay-Delta estuary to the McCloud River. The Run4Salmon was a prayer for the protection of the waters, the restoration of the salmon and continuance of indigenous lifeways that are currently under attack by Gov. Jerry Brown’s  Delta Tunnels proposal, Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam, and other mega-projects that would further degrade our rivers and the estuary the salmon need to survive.
Just as DAPL threatens the future of the Standing Rock Sioux, the threats to salmon endanger the future of the Winnemem Wintu people and other California salmon tribes. The salmon are vital to clean rivers and reducing the temperatures in our waterways, making their survival important for all humans, especially as we face the challenges of climate change. That is why we fight for them.

STATEMENTS

Chief Caleen Sisk: “This is our pipeline, and we have to wake the people up before we are standing in front of bulldozers because we will do that also”

Gary Mulcahy: “We are setting out to do something that has never been done before.”

Corrina Gould:  “. . .The salmon that came up our rivers and took care of my ancestors are the same salmon that spawn on Chief Caleen’s river and took care of her ancestors as well.”

 

Press Release: Winnemem Wintu and Allies to Protest Exclusion of California Indians from Gov. Brown’s California Water Summit

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2015

Press Contact: Caleen Sisk, (530) 229-4096

The Winnemem Wintu tribe, allies and other tribal representatives will be rallying and waving signs outside the 2nd California Water Summit this Monday, June 29, at the Westin Sacramento to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to exclude California tribes, environmentalists and other important stakeholders in this public meeting about massive state water infrastructure projects.

The summit is being advertised by the Brown administration as a conference to discuss the “latest developments including project selection for the $7.5 billion water bond” that is now available after the passage of the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Act of 2014.

Registration for the summit is nearly an astounding $1,500 per person, and there have been no efforts to include tribal representatives, environmentalists or anyone who is advocating for sound water policy that will benefit future generations, local ecosystems and salmon and other fisheries.

No mention of tribal water rights is listed on the agenda, and it seems the only people attending will be water districts’ staff, government scientists, corporate representatives and other advocates for Governor Brown’s pet water projects like the Shasta Dam raise and the twin Delta Tunnels, both of which would be devastating for salmon and tribal cultural resources and sacred sites.

“Most of the California Indians who are working on tribal water rights and for healthier rivers can’t afford a $1,500 registration fee,” said Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk.  “This is clearly an effort by Governor Brown to exclude the tribal voice, shove out anyone who disagrees with his destructive water plans and provide an opportunity for government and the big water power brokers to collude behind closed doors.”

Though California is suffering through five years of drastically low rainfall, Chief Sisk said the water problems are all man-made, due to poor management and greed. As the low rainfall puts a stress on California’s boondoggle of a water system, it has never been more important for the indigenous perspective to be heard and for tribal water rights to be acknowledged and upheld. The Winnemem Wintu have an especially important stake in the bond funds as many think they could be used to support the Shasta Dam raise to enlarge Shasta Lake’s capacity, which in turn would flood or damage about 40 sacred sites vital to the Winnemem’s religion and cultural practices.

“This is a summit that is meant to help these people peddle Brown’s projects that will benefit his buddies: agri-business and water sellers in Southern California,” Sisk said. “They are not interested in what’s best for the people of California and their children.”

All supporters are invited to join the Winnemem and their allies at the Westin Sacramento, 4800 Riverside Boulevard, at 7 a.m. Monday June 29. Please bring signs and any other items to ensure Gov. Brown hears our message loud and clear: He can no longer ignore the indigenous people of California!

 

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)

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.

 

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.

 

 

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!