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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Since 1851, the United States has had 31 Presidents and the State of California has had 37 Governors . Also,since 1851, the Winnemem Wintu tribe has had 5 leaders. So I sit here wondering during this time of transition just how will this new president be able to improve on what has been done by the previous 31.

As those of you have read this blog may understand, the state of California recently passed a joint resolution calling for United States government to restore recognition to our people. Since that time I've been informed by assembly member Jared Huffman's staff that the resolution had indeed been sent to Washington DC for action.

I realize that the United States government has many important things happening within its sphere of influence. Just as we have been told over and over and over again, Congress is busy, the president is busy and matters of state take precedent over the concerns of unrecognized Tribes.

So now were in transition once again, but whose transition is it really? Is a transition from a previous status quo whereby the United States government is busy working on the problems of the world without really looking at the problems at home? Is it a transition from one do-nothing government to another do-nothing government? Or is this going to be a transition from a government that has too long ignored the plight of its own people - into a government that cares for the people at home first.

The Winnemem Wintu continue our life way and traditional ceremonies and teaching just as we have since Millard Fillmore was president and long before that; we now have Barack Obama as president and we will continue our life way and traditional ceremonies. The only problem is that we are facing too many obstacles and too many enemies are approaching our Gates. As I sit writing this blog, I have before me on my desk approximately 30 timber harvest plans, requests for consultation, and notifications of discontinuance of services. As I wrote about in last week's blog entries we just had another funeral. We have no government support, we have no ready income, and so it makes it difficult even to bury our dead. As I also wrote in previous blog entries we are fighting with PG&E over the increase of hydropower generation at the McCloud reservoir dam. I'm looking at a PG&E bill for $2400. I wonder how these big companies sleep knowing that the people that they are doing injustice to by day, worry about how they're going to pay the bills to those same people by night.

So as we see it in the transition millions of dollars being spent to celebrate president Obama's inauguration, I can't help but wonder how will this transition actually help the tribal people of the United States. Estimates from the news pundits show that the inauguration itself will cost upwards of $100 million and more: if the Winnemem Wintu had but only 1% of that amount of money we could keep our village running for a full year or better. With only a half a percent of that money we could ensure that everyone on our village had food and electricity for one year. I guess transition is just expensive.

When our current leader took over for the late leader Florence, we received assistance from our sister and her husband in Oregon, we used up our Social Security and disability monies to pay for the funeral and the dinner for those who came to honor our dead and we received letters of condolence from one of our state senators and one of our local assembly members but we didn't receive any money for a transition. I don't know maybe I'm just tired, tired of watching people transition, but never really changing.

I hope that the new administration looks at California Indian issues and Indian issues all around the United States with a different eye. And I hope too that those people who are placed in the positions of power running departments and agencies and bureaus and cabinet seats are able to transition from what they were before into new people, better people, whose job it is to look out for all of those in the United States. For all of those who have become disenfranchised and disenchanted with the transitions we have seen.

We know that things can only get better, because believe me they can't really get any worse.
President Obama, if your people are watching things with your names attached, look for the AJR 39 information on behalf of the Winnemem Wintu and lets see if there really will be a new change and a transition that will actually transcend.

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