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.”

 

This Fall Run4Salmon and for Healthy Rivers

800_helene_sisk_warrioring_upWho are we?


Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk and a collective of Indigenous women, activists, and allies are organizing the Run 4 Salmon, a 300-mile trek that follows the historical journey of the salmon from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Winnemem (McCloud River) to raise awareness about the policies threatening our waters, our fish, and indigenous lifeways. It’s a dire time in California for wild chinook salmon (Nur) – climate change, giant dam projects and draining rivers for Big Ag irrigation threaten the survival of the keystone keepers of our waters. Salmon bring essential nutrients to the waterways, forests, and lands. However, since the Shasta Dam was built 71 years ago, the salmon have been unable to return to their home waters in the Winnemem’s ancestral watershed. Now, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is working on a plan to bring the genetic descendants of their salmon from New Zealand back to their home waters.

What’s the problem?


Our waters, our fish, and indigenous ways of life are all under attack. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation , Westlands Water District, and Senator Dianne Feinstein plan to raise the height of Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. Gov. Jerry Brown of California wants to build two giant tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that will divert our fresh water from the Sacramento River for the GMO Agricultural industry and have the potential of diverting every drop of fresh water from the Sacramento River. If they build these tunnels and raise the dam they will kill the largest estuary on the Pacific coast, inundate future spawning grounds on the McCloud River, and flood Winnemem Wintu sacred sites. These projects will destroy sacred ceremonial places, poison the soil, and destroy unique habitat that is essential for salmon as well as other plants, birds, and marine life.

What are we doing?


The Run 4 Salmon will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. This event will help raise awareness about the threats to the salmon’s existence and the vital role salmon play in keeping our waters and forests healthy. We will be laying down blessings along the route they will take once they are brought back from New Zealand. This is a ceremonial way of bringing Salmon home, who have historically been the keepers of the water, and whose jobs are essential to keeping our waterways healthy for human life and for all other life that depends on these rivers. As we run, we will be praying to bring balance to the rivers of California and to all of the waters of the world, which are connected.

How can you help?


You can participate by;

  • Joining in on the walk, the bicycle segment, and/or the run, or by taking a boat on
    the river.
  • You can follow this journey on social media.
  • Donate to our gofundme page to support those making this journey.
  • Call your senators and ask what they are doing to ensure the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s way of life is preserved and their voice is heard in California’s water planning. Tell them to build a volitional swim way around Shasta Dam for the Chinook Salmon, and to bring the McCloud River Salmon home from New Zealand.
  • Sign our petitions.
  • If you are a teacher, have your class follow Run 4 Salmon on our website. There
    will be photos, blogs and information which may interest your students.
  • Use our hashtags to help spread the word #run4salmon #NoDamRaise.
  • You can also support our efforts by praying for your waters, learning where your
    water comes from, knowing the names of those rivers, and standing up for your
    waterways.

    L earn more at www.run4salmon.org. 

    Join the Facebook event here.

Sign the Petition to STOP THE PLAN TO FLOOD WINNEMEM WINTU SACRED LANDS

SIGN THE CREDO PETITION NOW

Raising the height of Shasta Dam would drown most of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s last remaining sacred sites and traditional homelands, decimate endangered salmon and violate the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by flooding the McCloud River.

It is a criminal waste of taxpayer money, especially since cheaper, faster, state-of-the-art alternatives exist to ensure the state’s long-term water supply. Reject the California Emergency Drought Relief Act and any other legislation that could authorize raising Shasta Dam.
shastadammeme
Join our fight today to stop the Shasta Dam raise. It help help preserve Winnemem Wintu culture and religion for future generations, and it will save all Californians from waste and unnecessary ecological destruction to benefit a few rich agri-business leaders. You can’t stop a drought with a dam!

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 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.

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.

 

 

Chief’s letter to BIA Regional Director: “It’s time for the BIA to stop the human rights abuses against us.”

Chief Sisk at our War Dance for a Peaceful Coming of Age this May

Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk sent a letter to BIA Regional Director Amy Dutschke, urging her to intervene and close the ceremonial land to outsiders from outsiders during our Coming of Age ceremony June 30-July 3.

“By keeping the Winnemem Wintu, a tribe with a long history of government-to-government relations with the U.S., in your “unrecognized” status, you are by proxy authorizing human rights violations against our tribe and the disruption of our ceremony.”

Full letter is pasted below. The chief has fasted for 11 days and will continue to do so until Ms. Dutschke or the appropriate official meets with her.

Help us reach the BIA! Contact Amy Dutschke at Pacific Regional Office Bureau of Indian Affairs 2800 Cottage Way Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 978-6000, (916) 978-6099

E-mail: amy.dutschke@bia.gov

Amy Dutschke, Regional Director of the BIA in Sacramento

Be sure to cite AJR 39 – the California state resolution that urges the federal government to recognize the Winnemem!

Beedi Yalumina! Never give up!

The letter:

Amy Dutschke
Regional Director

Pacific Regional Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, CA 95825                                             June 27, 2012

Dear Ms. Dutschke,

I am Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe from Northern California.

Although we have met with Bureau representatives on several occasions in Washington, D.C., and both our state Senators in the past have sent inquiries to the Bureau regarding our tribal status, it was recommended that we send a formal request for meeting with you because of the urgency of our current situation.

I am writing to request a meeting with you to discuss our status as an “unrecognized” tribe.  I have been fasting for 9 days and will continue to do so until a meeting can be arranged.

We are a deeply traditional people who still practice our indigenous religion at numerous sacred sites along the McCloud River watershed.

For six years, we have struggled with the U.S. Forest Service to hold a peaceful Coming of Age ceremony at our Puberty Rock sacred site on the McCloud. in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and a large portion of the site is now a Forest Service campground. Because we are federally unrecognized, the Forest Service states that they can’t close the ceremonial site and river for us to protect the privacy of the ceremonies.

During previous ceremonies, we have endured heckling, racial harassment and even had a woman flash her naked breasts at us, while curiosity seekers and fishermen have disrupted the ceremony by walking through the grounds or near the young women’s traditional bark huts.

Now, after a long campaign, the Forest Service has finally issued a river closure for health and safety reasons, but they will not issue a mandatory closure of the ceremonial land because of our status with the BIA.  The Forest Service has informed us that the only way they would have the legal authority to close the campground and area to the general public is if we were on the list of federally recognized tribes.

We believe it’s time that the BIA step in and do what’s necessary to protect our upcoming ceremony this June 30-July 3, and all future ceremonies, from human rights violations. By keeping the Winnemem Wintu, a tribe with a long history of government-to-government relations with the U.S., in your “unrecognized” status, you are by proxy authorizing human rights violations against our tribe and the disruption of our ceremony.

I would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible, hopefully before our ceremony begins Saturday, June 30, to discuss this matter and start the process to getting a technical correction to restore our recognized status so we can have a ceremony in peace and dignity. Because this is of the utmost importance to the survival of our culture and our religious rights, I will be fasting until this meeting takes place.

The Winnemem Wintu have been recognized on numerous occasions by the federal government: the 1851 unratified Cottonwood Treaty of which our former chief Norel Putus is a signer; the establishment of the temporary reservation at the Baird Fish Hatchery on our river; the 1941 Central Valley Project Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which authorized our removal and the removal of our burials from the McCloud River to clear the way for Shasta Lake; our chief’s 25-year-old eagle feather permit, which was recently revoked, and in so many other ways.

The Tejon Indian Tribe was recently discovered to have been omitted by accident by your agency. We believe the Winnemem Wintu have suffered the same fate, and we are eager to meet with you to help remedy this great injustice.

Respectfully,

Caleen Sisk
Spiritual and Tribal Leader
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
14840 Bear Mountain Road
Redding, CA. 96003