Caleen Sisk-Franco: “Salmon Restoration Should Help Ranchers, Not Hurt Them”

Winnemem Wintu Spiritual Leader and Tribal Chief Caleen Sisk-Franco published an opinion piece in the Redding Record-Searchlight today stating that the Tribe supports local ranchers and sees them as allies in Central Valley salmon recovery.

Read the full piece: “Caleen Sisk-Franco: Salmon Restoration Should Help Ranchers, Not Hurt Them“.

We have many stories about the thick salmon runs that once spawned in the McCloud River; we remember how the land and the water used to be when the salmon were here; we more than anyone know what will be lost if all of our salmon are lost.

Many of the ranchers on Cow Creek have held their family land for a few generations, and I imagine they heard yarns from their grandpas and great-grandpas about the salmon runs that used to charge through their land.

Their oral history might not stretch as far back as ours, but I bet a love for salmon exists in the hearts of many of those ranchers. That is why my tribe would like to work with them as salmon allies.

Caleen wrote the piece in response to an Oct. 11 story – “Ranchers wary over fish barrier count on Cow Creek” – about a recent meeting between U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Cow Creek ranchers, who are worried about the agency’s effort to survey salmon barriers on the waterway they depend on for irrigation.

Though we are investigating other swimway options, one way we believe our migrating McCloud River salmon could get around Shasta Dam is via Cow, Little Cow and Dry Creeks. See the map below:

Record-Searchlight Supports Bałas Chonas

Traditional Hereditary Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk-Franco arrives on the other side of river, ready to receive the girls when they swim across.

After printing a story about the postponement of our Bałas Chonas (Coming of Age Ceremony) because of the threat of public interference, the Record-Searchlight published two editorials supporting our fight to hold the ceremony in peace.

The first by the editorial board “Recognized or not, tribe’s rite deserves respect from the law” argues that if the law doesn’t allow the Winnemem to close the river, then the law must change.

But simply as a matter of decency, the law ought to give federal officials the power to recognize bona-fide traditional ceremonies and make modest, occasional accommodations for them when appropriate. We’re not talking about closing down Lake Shasta here, but a 300-foot section of a lake that when full has 46 square miles available for boaters.

In the second “Hecklers need a rite of passage”, publisher Silas Lyons writes eloquently about his admiration of the ceremony and questions the integrity of the boaters who have intruded in past years.

These Winnemem Wintu girls have an opportunity to experience the rite of passage, and thousands of years of experience testifies to the truth that they’ll be better for it. So will their community. The tribe’s determination to try to have the ceremonies, and to do them right, is an inspiration.

We thank the Record-Searchlight for their coverage and support. We will need it as we continue to fight for a mandatory closure in 2012.