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.