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!

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

FOREST SERVICE IGNORES TRIBE’S REQUEST FOR PEACEFUL SACRED CEREMONY; TRIBE PLANS WAR DANCE TO PROTECT TRADITIONAL WOMEN’S RIGHTS

P R E S S  R E L E A S E

Winnemem Wintu Tribe

For Immediate Release:  May 4, 2012

For more information:

Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Tribal Chief: 530-710-4817

James Ward, media relations: 530-638-5580

WinnememWintu Tribe needs 4-day closure of 400-yard section of McCloud River to Perform Girls’ Traditional Coming of Age Ceremony

Ceremony flasher graphic

Please download and share via facebook! Save our ceremony!

Redding, CA

–U.S. Forest Service Region 5 Forester Randy Moore has missed his May 1 deadline to respond to the Winnemem Wintu’s request for a mandatory river closure to protect their Coming of Age ceremony this summer. The tribe has had not received any intention of Mr. Moore to respond in a timely fashion, and because the government’s legal process is clearly a dead end, the Winnemem will now hold a H’up Chonas, or War Dance, in the near future to defend their cultural rites in a traditional way.
Previous Coming of Age ceremonies have been disrupted by drunken recreational boaters motoring through the site and heckling the tribe with racial slurs.

“I am saddened that Moore does not have the courage to do what’s right,” Sisk said. “We lost all our land when they built Shasta Dam, and now all we want is four days of peace and dignity for our ceremony, which is vital to the social fabric of our tribe. A peaceful ceremony is our right, and we are not accepting anything short of that.”

The tribe is placing a call to action.  During the War Dance, the tribe, hundreds of tribal members from around the west coast and allies will gather in solidarity to ensure their sacred ceremony will proceed unhindered as it has for thousands of years before the Forest Service existed.  For more information, contact the tribe at: winnememwintutribe@gmail.com.  Details will be on the Winnemem Wintu web site soon.

The tribe first brought back the H’up Chonas, or War Dance, in 2004 to protest the proposal to raise Shasta Dam, which would flood many important sacred sites, including the site of the Coming of Age ceremonies. The War Dance signifies a commitment to a spiritual and physical resistance to threats to the tribe’s culture. It means the Winnemem are willing to die to protect their tribal way of life.

Frustrated by being ignored by Shasta-Trinity Forest officials for the past six years, members of the Tribe challenged Mr. Moore at his office in Vallejo, CA, April 16,to ask him directly for the closure for the young women’s ceremony.
Citing the U.N. Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently signed by President Obama, Chief Sisk and several women of the tribe sought to convince Mr. Moore that this is an issue of human rights and women’s rights.  The Forest Service’s position has been that they lack the authority to grant the request for the traditional tribe, though sources within the agency have verified that Mr. Moore has the authority to close the stretch of river necessary for the ceremony.

In previous ceremonies, the Forest Service attempted a“voluntary” closure of the river, which has led to the tribe being heckled and abused by antagonistic recreational boaters who are often drunk and have shouted racial slurs like “Fat Indians!”.

At the April 16 event, Chief Sisk reported to the press that a voluntary closure meansthat, “the 10 percent who mean harm, disrespect and possible violence barge through the ceremony by motor boat and prove that a voluntary closure does not work. “

Though the Winnemem are federally unrecognized due to a bureaucratic error, the Forest Service has previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the tribe, which states they are the indigenous people from the McCloud River.

Moore said the Forest Service could close the river for a federally recognized tribe on the Winnemem’s behalf. Not only is this an insult to the Winnemem, but it is exceedingly dangerous. It could set a legal precedent that another tribe has authority over the site and the ceremony.

“What if the Mormons had to ask the Catholic Church for permission to have a ceremony?” Sisk asked. “What if one day the Catholics said no? Then what do you do?”

The north end of the ceremony site is private land not accessible to boaters. The river closure would not stop a thoroughfare, but simply cut off a 400-yard corner of the 30,000 square-acre Shasta Lake.

At previous ceremonies, the Forest Service’s law enforcement officers have implemented a mandatory closure of the river on the last day of the ceremony when the young women swim across to symbolize their transition to womanhood.  They have cited safety reasons behind the closure.

Learn more about the Winnemem Wintu at http://www.winnememwintu.us/

Learn more about the ceremony at www.saveourceremony.com.

Download Video of motorboats speeding past ceremony and flashing the participants at: http://vimeo.com/39867112

Footage of April 16, 2012 protest at Forest Service Region 5 Headquarters in Vallejo: http://youtu.be/oglCy–o7oY

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Don’t forget! Winnemem Films Screening this Weekend in Redding

Just a reminder that this weekend we’ll be screening the 15-minute promotional short for Will Doolittle’s upcoming feature documentary Dancing Salmon Home and Will’s 22-minute film, Ceremony Comes Home, about our 2006 Coming of Age ceremony.

The films be will shown as part of the Indian Education Film Festival Friday through Saturday at the Shasta Learning Center (show times and a flyer are below.)

The films will be followed by a question and answer forum with tribal members. A recommended donation of $1 can be provided at the door, and we will also have our jewelry and our Sacred Salmon Cards for sale.

All proceeds will go towards our efforts to return the salmon, protect our sacred sites and our fight for justice.

Location:

Shasta Learning Center, 2200 Eureka Way , Redding , 96001

Screening Schedule:

Friday, Nov. 4th
5:00 p.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
5:30 p.m. – Ceremony Comes Home

Saturday, Nov. 5th
5:00 p.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
5:30p.m. – Ceremony Comes Home
Sunday, Nov. 6th
11 a.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
11:30 a.m.- Ceremony Comes Home

Winnemem Film Screenings in Redding Nov. 4-6

Two short documentaries about our Tribe’s journey to justice and salmon return will be screened at the Indian Education Film Festival, which is being held at the Shasta Learning Center (Old Nova), Friday – Sunday, Nov. 4-6.

We’ll screen the 15-minute promotional short for Will Doolittle‘s upcoming feature documentary Dancing Salmon Home about our journey to New Zealand to sing and dance for our salmon as well as our efforts to bring them home.

We’ll also show Will’s 22-minute film, Ceremony Comes Home, about our 2006 Coming of Age ceremony for Marine Sisk, which was disrupted by recreational boaters who motored through the McCloud River site and heckled us and our guests.

The films will be followed by a question and answer forum with tribal members. Tickets can be brought for $1 at the door, and we will also have our jewelry and our Sacred Salmon Cards for sale.

All proceeds will go towards our efforts to return the salmon, protect our sacred sites and our fight for justice.

Location:

Shasta Learning Center, 2200 Eureka Way , Redding , 96001

Screening Schedule:

Friday, Nov. 4th
5:00 p.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
5:30 p.m. – Ceremony Comes Home

Saturday, Nov. 5th
5:00 p.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
5:30p.m. – Ceremony Comes Home
Sunday, Nov. 6th
11 a.m. – Dancing Salmon Home
11:30 a.m.- Ceremony Comes Home

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: