Winnemem Wintu - The Journey to Justice

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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Friday, December 19, 2008

California Budget Woes

Just the other day the legislature moved a budget to the governor to sign, hopefully ending the budget crises/stalemate here in California. About 10 minutes after getting this document the governor said in a press conference that he could not sign the budget because of the tax burden it placed on the people of the state and, oh how unfair that would be.

I listened to this report and couldn't help but think about the compacts approved by the voters in November that affected the casino tribes signing the compacts and the other tribes who may want to renew or enter the compact process and how that proposition series (something like 94-98?) changed the revenue share from the casinos adding millions to the state general fund.

You know, ever since I heard the governor call for California Indian to "pay their fair share", it irritates the heck out of me to hear them now lament the burden that will be placed on the citizens of this state.

They should never have passed Prop 13 in the 1970's (a death knell to county governments that is now showing through) and the repeal of the vehicle license fee. Listen, I like having money (I don't have any but still pay taxes), I appreciate the social services that are available to folks (we don't get them because of our status as unrecognized people) but wish government leaders would stop saying that Indians (read California Native Tribal people) need to pay their share: we did; with un-ratified treaties that ceded away vast tracks of this state, with every sacred site lost to a developer or local government who refuse to discuss the impact to our living cultures and whenever the federal government tramples our Indigenous Human rights.

Again, just a thought as we move toward a new administration in DC and hopefully a paradigm shift in our state and local governments that will allow for open and truthful dialog regarding the definition of "fair".

Help the Winnemem Wintu - print and get signatures on this petition!

I was wondering about petitions and their value to people who need the government to act in a certain way. The Winnemem have tried many approaches to reach officials in government departments and bureaus that daily impact our lifeway and the environment we have been set here to protect. Thus far our pleas for assistance and justice have fallen on deaf ears (with the notable exception of Marin, California Assemblyman Jared Huffman who sponsored AJR 39 - the resolution asking the feds to restore our status as a sovereign nation).

Anyway, this California resolution was to be sent to the President, Congress and others for action. To this date we have not heard if it was sent or if it was received. I'm checking on this as you read this. My point, however, is this: would California Senators Feinstein and Boxer respond to an influx of letters calling for action or a number of petitions calling for them to follow the lead of their home states legislature and allow our restoration? Since neither of these two Senators will actually meet with us face to face, despite numerous requests and our travel to their offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington DC, I wonder if this approach will wipe the sleep from their eyes so they can see us as we are, not as their aides and staffers portray us as being.

Okay, with all that, I have pasted (as I am new to this blogthing) a petition for your approval. If you can, print it, sign it with all your friends and send it off to Washington DC. Oh, and if you do, let me know so I can see if this works.

To Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Barbara Boxer

We the undersigned support the Winnemem Wintu struggle for justice. The California Legislature passed AJR 39, a joint resolution memorializing Congress to restore recognition to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The next step to correct an historic wrong now goes to the Federal level. We ask that you, as Senators representing California, sponsor and support a bill for the restoration of the Winnemem Wintu tribe. Change the message relayed in 1852 which refused to honor the treaty this tribe signed in “peace and friendship” by restoring the basic human rights they have been fighting for over the past 156 years.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Picks for Obama Cabinet

Well, it looks like things are supposed to be different in the new White house and government...
Same old faces in some areas, new faces but old stories in others so I will have to wait to see if things improve for the Winnemem or any other historic/traditional tribe in this country.

The new Secretary of the Interior I hope heard the President-elect say that they are looking to live up to the treaties made with the tribes of this country - I hope they keep their eyes open to the case of California where our treaties were signed but not much for deals made "in peace and friendship!"

Anyone reading this who has looked at the Winnemem situation, I ask you to help us contact the new players and present a letter or petition of support for the restoration of our tribal status as well as the treaty rights we were denied and the benefits of governmental acts which took our land for the flooding of Lake Shasta and for which we still wait.

The new Obama government has the opportunity to rectify a century of dishonor to my tribal people and provide for completion and obeying of the country's laws that everyone else must obey but those in power often fail to. Live up to the requirements of the Central Valley Indian Land Acquisition act (55stat612)...give us our land, the funds to rebuild and protection of our cemetery!

Just a few cents worth on this cold day in Tuiimyalli.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

PGE and Cloud Seeding

PG&E and Cloud Seeding - What in the world are these people thinking.
PG&E, a n energy "producing" company that we have utilizing our tribal territory, is planning on increasing its "rain enhancement" program on the slopes of Mt Shasta. Using silver iodide (in our opinion a toxic substance) they hope to "enhance" the Creator's ability to make it rain. While this may appear on the surface to be a good thing - more rain in an area that is in the middle of a drought is good - using toxic chemicals that have already been found leaching into the ground water and into the fish relatives around Lake Almanor - is not!
Folks, take a look at this issue. Investigate what this company is planning and join us in protesting and hopefully stopping this madness before it is too late.
The Winnemem would love to see more water - flowing freely - in the rivers and streams but we cannot stand by and watch the water we have become toxic for the two legged or our relations who can no longer speak for themselves.
Inserted below is a letter written by our Mt Shasta Representatives Mark and Luisa on behalf of the tribe to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. Take a look at it and if you can write your own letter asking for a better assessment of the risks involved in this PGE scheme!

Dear Ms. Barber,

This letter is an official communication from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe regarding the PG&E Pit-McCloud Cloud Seeding-Ground Water Enhancement Project (Project). Our tribe became aware of this Project through an article in a local newspaper and was never contacted or consulted in any manner as an affected tribe prior to this public notice. We are concerned and alarmed that the location of the generators and the Project area are within our traditional tribal boundaries and many sacred ceremonial sites and traditional gathering areas may be directly affected by this Project. We are asking that Siskiyou County require a full environmental review for this Project before it is allowed to begin.

We have outlined our concerns about this Project in the attached letter to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, dated November 16, 2008. We have also attached a letter from Dr. Rene Henery that he sent to the Siskiyou County BOS. We understand that your office is now reviewing the Project. We also would like to know why this Project, whose sole operational objective is to release a known toxic substance into the environment, is not regulated under some state or county regulation (such as the the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act of 1987 or other).

In addition to the general concerns outlined in the attached letter, we feel that the generators and their operation need to be closely scrutinized. We initiated one telephone conversation with Byron Marler, Supervisor of the Project, in which he did not deny, nor directly confirm, that contamination of the ground in the immediate vicinity of and immediately downwind of the the generators would be possible and even probable. Mr. Marler suggested that if PG&E knew the location of our sites, they could re-position their generators away from our sites. Though re-positioning the generators might possibly mitigate the effects of silver iodide contamination on our sites, it does not address the fact that high levels of contamination may be produced where ever the generators are situated.

Available information on this Project in particular is minimal and the studies that PG&E uses for justification are, in our opinion, outdated, incomplete or of questionable applicability. We have asked PG&E to send us detailed information, plans and maps, on their Project that would address our concerns. We have yet to receive this information and instead was sent a very general power point presentation intended for the general public.

Although a full environmental review of the Project would be long and expensive, PG&E is well positioned to commission such a study. A full environmental review would go a long way toward assuring our Tribe, our County and its citizens that no environmental damage will occur from this Project. PG&E would also increase their trust and good will with the community as well as increase their research data base for future cloud seeding projects.

In this time of drought in California, more cloud seeding projects may be proposed and implemented and the amounts of toxic silver iodide, tracer chemicals and other cloud seeding chemicals and their frequency of use could increase dramatically. To our knowledge, no government agency issues permits for cloud seeding projects nor is there an oversight agency. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and other tribes with traditional lands in the Project areas, and the citizens of this County have the Right to Know about projects that release toxic chemicals into our environment. Without some agency oversight, however, our Right to Know is abrogated. Without an environmental review, we may be at the mercy of companies that have terrible legacies of environmental pollution and human misery, such as PG&E.

Thank you for your consideration,

Mark Miyoshi and Luisa Navejas
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
Mt. Shasta District Representatives

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

International Campaign Against Coca-Cola

PRESS: Coca-Cola, Others Charged With Greenwash
December 3, 2008

The Coca-Cola company and other water companies were challenged in San Francisco by a broad coalition of groups, charging the companies with greenwashing and abusing water resources. The water companies were in San Francisco for a meeting entitled "Corporate Water Footprinting: Towards a Sustainable Water Strategy" on December 2 and 3, 2008 to ostensibly outline water conservation strategies. The coalition organized a capacity-filled Water Rights conference on December 2nd as well as a protest, including street theater, at the corporate conference venue today.

The Winnemem Wintu took part in this protest and a public forum the night before in the SF Bay area on the 3rd of this month.
Headman Mark Franco, appearing at the request of our tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader, spoke on behalf of the Water, the Salmon and our relations who depend on water. We met and worked with Amit Srivastava, Director of the International Campaign against Coca Cola for the India Resource Center (I think that is right). Check out their web page and get involved in stopping this water sucking, human rights exploiting giant from doing any more damage!
The Winnemem Wintu are committed to protecting the rights of those with no voice from being trampled and we appreciate the efforts of folks like Amit, Jeff Conant and Winonah Hauter from the Food and Water Watch as well as all the others who stood up for all of you. Again, join us on the front lines...don't sit back with a designer bottle of water or a cola product thinking that all is's not!

On a different line, the "Boss" also sent me to UC Berkeley to speak on water and environmental Justice issues for Torri Estrada's class there. I have been sent in like this before but I wanted to acknowledge the attention and participation of the students at Cal Berkeley. I hope that what I was able to share with them gives them a glimpse into the EJ fight at the tribal level and shows them that research in this important area cannot just be a 9-5 proposition. It takes a long time to actually understand a problem before a fix can be suggested or implemented and tribal communities are just now able to open up to actual caring researchers who want to help rather than checking a box on a future job application. More on this subject in later posts.

Today is the 67th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the "official" start of WW2 for the United States. I would like to offer a silent prayer for our tribal warriors who fought for their homeland, like by father, uncles and my late father-in-law who served this country while their own homelands were being destroyed and exploited for "the good of" others. Thankfully, my father is still with me, the others of that "greatest" generation now on the other side. If you have relatives who served during that war and for those who were caught up in the subsequent wars, hold them and care for them...they risked it all for all of us.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Journey Continues

During this past summer, the Winnemem Wintu, after a long and arduous trip through the halls of California government, finally saw the passage of AJR 39 (carried, thankfully, by Marin Assemblyman Jared Huffman) .
We attended numerous meetings with legislators or all parties, talked ourselves hoarse and were victorious: the state of California sent a resolution to the President of the United States, the Department of Interior and the BIA a message saying in effect,"Hey, these are real Indians, give them what you promised when you took their land!"
We visited our Congressional delegates in Washington DC and spoke only with staffers, the government was trying to get someone elected and had no time for us but that was okay, I like the staffers: they are generally concerned and literate; ready to take notes to pass on to the next person so that when we return, like the swallows to Capistrano, they can review the notes and tell us "Nothing happened on your issue - we've been busy you see."
But, you see we've been busy too: fighting for the people of California to have clean water, saving our sacred sites and maintaining our cultural lifeway in the face of government sanctioned "cultural genocide."
We need to have people look up the California AJR 39 (I will try to get it here on this blog or you can look at the tribe's web page, to read it and our issues and positions, and then help us convince Senators Boxer and Feinstein to act on what the State Legislature had said: Restore our status!
I will try to add to this blog more often to keep people up to date on our struggle and our tribal vision for ourselves and our prayers for all of you.
Check out Moving Image Production and the Sacred Lands Film Project web page for information and films on us and check back: I will write on.
Hey, if President-elect Obama can communicate this way, what says an old Indian like me can't learn how to as well.

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