On February 3rd, in Berkeley, we attended a deeply moving event to benefit the Winnemem Wintu tribe.
We listened to Winnemem Chief, Caleen Sisk-Franco, and to her husband, Mark, describe
the tribe’s bond with the McCloud River Salmon, how the “salmon had given their voice” to the Winnemem Wintu. Last year the tribe journeyed to New Zealand and had a meeting with the Maori people who have happened to become the keepers of this fish, and who have reached out to the Winnemem. The tribe now hopes to bring the salmon back to California, but there are many hurdles in front of them, including the plans of the U.S. government and corporations who have little interest in the Winnemem, or the long term interests of the earth.
This evening of testimony and film was a learning experience, and a solemn reminder that the ground we live upon is soaked with blood, and that all this must change.
In 1854, more than 40 Winnemem Wintu men, women and children were killed by settlers at Kaibai Creek, California. We tasted new bitterness on hearing how more than 150 years later the tribe is “not recognized” by the U.S. government.
Now, the Winnemem Wintu are fighting not only for their own cultural survival, but for the survival of their native lands and for the sustainability of the planet we all inhabit. They are fighting with seriousness, creativity, and with joy.
When the Shasta Dam was built it created a lake that flooded the Winnemem villages. Displaced but not defeated the Winnemem tribe survived and now fights against the raising of this dam and the further destruction of the land and culture.
In 2004 the Winnmem “declared war” on the U.S. government’s planned raising of the dam and held a H’up Chonas (war dance) at Shasta Dam.
sitio tiempo press appreciates these people’s determination and persistance, and takes inspiration from their struggle. You can visit the Winnemem website to find out more. Also see the Sacred Land Film Project and Dancing Salmon Home.