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.

From Oregon with Love for Ceremony: A Letter to the Forest Service

The following is a letter from a supporter in Oregon (she asked us to only use her initials) to the local Forest Service district urging the forest manager to enforce a mandatory river closure for our upcoming BałasChonas – Coming of Age Ceremony – for 16-year-old Marisa this summer.

Previous ceremonies have been marred by heckling and disruptions from recreational boaters on the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake. To see video of the heckling and learn more about the ceremony, visit www.saveourceremony.com

For information on writing your own letter to Sharon Heywood, visit our how you can help page. #saveourceremony

Feel free to send us your letter to winnememwintutribe@gmail.com or even make a video on youtube, and we will share it on our web site and on our facebook page!

March 20, 2012

USDA Forest Service
3644 Avtech Parkway

Redding, CA 96002

Dear Ms. Heywood:

I’ve watched and listened, danced and feasted at the two most recent Balas Chonas, (puberty), ceremonies of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, held along the McCloud River at their traditional home and sacred sites.  Welcomed guests, including even non-tribal people like myself, as well as US Forest Service employees, have joined them.  Some of the USFS people were there as part of their work, others were there to witness and participate in the beauty of the ceremony.

It was shocking that some recreating public members refused to accept a “voluntary closure” of the ceremony area and purposely disrupted it with shouts and curses.  In one such incident a woman lifted her shirt and showed her breasts.  This is totally unacceptable, and particularly at a time that is so sacred.

The United States of America is now among the signers of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  Article 12 states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice…and teach their spiritual and religious traditions…and ceremonies; the right to maintain and protect and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites.”  There are other relevant articles, but Article 12 should be enough reason for you to close the river/lake for the upcoming ceremony, June 30 – July 3, 2012.

In conversation with Winnemem Wintu Tribal Chief, Caleen Sisk, I have learned that she is being asked to respond to an application that would be appropriate for any recreating group or family.  This seems an insult, like asking a Priest or Rabbi to apply each time they needed to hold a religious event in their sacred place.

And, as for the date of the event, there is only one traditional time that can work for the Balas Chonas ceremony; to expect use at another time would be no different than expecting Christmas services to be held on Halloween or Easter Sunday.  I use these examples because I think that many people have a hard time understanding certain insults and indignities and racism if they can’t see it from their own cultural perspective.  The safety and sacredness of this Balas Chonas event, in which the next tribal chief will be the initiate, is absolutely crucial.

Our government, in signing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, agreed to uphold that document.  You, as Supervisor of the Shasta-Trinity Forest, have the responsibility to carry out the intent of it, unless it is more appropriate for Regional Director, Randy Moore, or Forest Ranger Kristy Cottini, to do so.

In hopes for a good outcome for the Ceremony, sincerely,

R.K. – Winnemem Support Group of Oregon