Winnemem Wintu - The Journey to Justice

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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting it Right when on a deadline

Bruce Ross, an editor at the Redding Record Searchlight, had this posted on his blog:

Live from the war dance

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Record Searchlight wasn't able to send a reporter down to Sacramento to cover the Winnemen Wintus' "war dance" last night and today's march to the state Capitol (though Dylan Darling caught up with them beforehand).

The Bee, however, dispatched a war-dance correspondent, who got an earful from Mark Franco:

When legislation for Shasta Dam was approved by Congress, it contained a promise to acquire property for the Winnemem to replace the 4,480 acres of tribal and allotment lands that would be flooded.

That promise has not been kept, Mark Franco said, and the government continues to appropriate areas that the tribe considers sacred. The tribe's permit to gather wood from a manzanita grove for ceremonial fires has been rescinded and the grove turned into a campground, he said.

In addition, he said, the Bureau of Land Management has refused to allow continued use of a tribal cemetery.

"So when we bury someone, we are in danger of being arrested," Franco said.

I tried to respond on his page with the following but could not get their computer to let me log on so I will put my reply here:

The "war dance correspondent" got some of the information wrong: The permit was not to gather wood (the USFS destroyed the manzanita grove in violation of an agreement not to cut that area) The permit was one to use our old roundhouse site for open ceremony, we held the ceremony in secret until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedoms Act in 1978 - we got the permit in 1979. That permit was revoked, no new permit issued and the area is under consideration as a FS campground - we are in opposition to this.

The BLM mention pertains to their policy of not allowing burials on "their lands". Since the tribal cemetery is now under BLM control, rather than held by the BIA, burials are not allowed. Until these issues are resolved (hence the lawsuit) we do stand to be arrested for violating federal law by burying in the active cemetery.
The Bee did a good job in the initial report but the way it comes across here, makes these very real issues seem like a minor complaint by a petulant child when in fact it is a wakeup call for all of us that our individual rights and the freedoms we enjoy are being eroded by a government too big to worry about the non-rich, non-majority people of this land. I really wish the Searchlight could have sent Dylan Darling to cover this event; he had a lot of the information right in his initial report filed Sunday the 19th.

I genuinely like the Blog items on the RS web page. Mr. Ross has covered a lot of very important issues in a humorous and honest manner. I hope he continues his work. I just want to make sure that when we are quoted (in this case not by Mr. Ross but by Sacramento Bee) that the quotation is accurate. I am not a journalist by any means, my job with the tribe is to report to the people, accurately, what leadership wants told. Hopefully, just as I tell the students who come to our village in search of information for their targeted degrees, they will get it right.

No offense to the reporters who must cover stories at the drop of a hat; yours is not an easy job by any means and the information that you provide is needed now more than ever.

Anyway, we will have more to say about the lawsuit when the government has had a chance to reply; until then read your newspaper, express your opinion and make a difference in the world - just do it right.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

War Dance in Sacramento - Final Event Update 17 April 2009

Michael Preston
(530) 209-1235 cell

*** Media Advisory ***

Tribal War Dance and March Next Steps in Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s Journey to Justice Ceremonies Initiate Federal Lawsuit on behalf of Tribe.

Who: The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a traditional California Tribe. The Winnemem have been fighting for years to sustain their culture and address generations of broken promises by the federal government.

What: War Dance, march and press conference from Sacramento River to the State Capitol..
Winnemem war dancers and tribal leaders will perform a traditional ceremonial War Dance next to the Sacramento River and will then march to the State Capitol building. The march and War Dance initiate the federal lawsuit the Tribe is filing, asking for compensation for damages done by federal land management policies, including the construction of the Shasta Dam.

Schedule of events:

Sunday, April 19th: 6:00pm War Dance begins at 1501 Northgate Blvd. Camp Pollock

Monday, April 20th: Ceremony continues on from the night before followed by address by Tribal leaders at Camp Pollock.

10:00 AM March from Old Sacramento to Capitol Building

12:00 to 1:00 PM Press Conference with Tribal leaders and community members State Capitol Location 27 West side of capitol building

More Information
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is filing a lawsuit against Department of The Interior; Department of Agriculture; United States Forest Service; Bureau of Reclamation; Bureau of Indian Affairs; Bureau of Land Management; Ken Salazar, Secretary of The Interior; Assistant Secretary for Water and Science; Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in The Department of Agriculture; and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture asking for redress for decades of injustices and harm related to federal land management policies which have destroyed Winnemem cultural practices and sacred places.
The Winnemem began a journey to justice in 2004 with a War Dance at Shasta Dam. Today we continue that journey with another War Dance and this lawsuit. Our people are a traditional people, steeped in our culture and traditional lifeways, who have continued our cultural practices throughout the written history of the state of California. With this lawsuit and War Dance, we continue our journey to ensure our basic quality of life and freedom to maintain our traditions and culture.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Winnemem to file lawsuit asking redress for harms


After many years of blood, sweat and tears, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is finally taking to Federal Court, their case regarding the failure of the United State government to live up to the obligations and promises made through the 1941 Central Valley Project – Indian Land Acquisition Act.

We will be filing a complaint in Federal Court (Eastern District in Sacramento) on April 20, 2009. We are asking all of our tribal relatives who are able to send a delegation to Sacramento to show support for us in this effort. As you are all aware, we are limited in funds and could use your financial assistance if you are able to help us house, transport, feed and/or fuel vehicles for tribal members and other folks who come to walk to the court with us.

Any and all assistance is helpful and we appreciate your generosity as well as your good wishes on this major step forward we are taking.

Once we have secured the okay of the Miwok people (in whose land the court sits) to dance and the location of the area they feel is suitable for this use, we will have a major press release and an additional Tribal Advisory sent to you all.

This issue is not one that was easy to reach but we have seen our lands damaged almost beyond repair; the waters polluted and the salmon stranded and lost to our home streams: now is the time for us to act, and we have, continuing the efforts begun in 2004 with our War Dance on Shasta Dam!

We welcome all to join with us!

The information below is our scheduled activities leading up to the target date of the 20th:

April 17th we go to Universe Rock to pray for papers
April 18th we will be in the village at fire, we will get ready to travel.
April 19th we will go to Sacramento down by Old Sac by the river, set the drum and fire and dance in the evening.
April 20th we will war dance in the morning, walk to the Capitol for media event at 12 noon, and file the complaint by 2:30pm

This is the day in history that we have been praying for. Our complaint is not about recognition, but about the harms caused by the BIA, BLM, BOR, USFS, Dept of Agriculture, and Dept. of Interior for not upholding the law and promises by the US.

Contact the tribe if you can help out or come to support. Additional press notifications are forthcoming so stay tuned!

Western Regional Partnership

I had the opportunity to represent the Tribe at the 2009 WRP meeting in Reno Nevada this past week. I suggest to all tribal people and those from the Environmental Justice movement to look into this partnership.
The members of the partnership represent a vast coalition of Department of Defense units, all of whom, in my opinion, are working to find solutions to problems associated with DOD installations around the 5 states of the western region.
Issues under examination include:GIS, Energy, Land Use, Wildlife Corridors/critical habitat and threatened and endangered species, Border issues and disaster preparedness. Each of these areas involve not only the non natives of this land but Tribal areas as well.
The days spent at this event were extremely beneficial to me as a tribal representative: they gave a human connection to what I have always perceived to be an impersonal group of agencies.
I applaud the people who attended for their openness in discussion of issues of tribal sensitivity as well as their openness to the issues of tribal people. My colleagues from the Water Commission: Atta Stevenson and Randy Yonemura, look forward to continuing the conversations started with the admirals, generals and leaders of the agencies who attended. I have committed to assisting this partnership in whatever way I can to assist these folks in planning for the changes that we tribal people have been saying were coming.
Check out the website of the partnership if you have a; I think you will be surprised at what we are working on and hope that you will open your minds to the possible assistance tribal folks now have the chance to provide to protect our sacred lands and our mother earth.

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