Winnemem Wintu - The Journey to Justice

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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bruce Tokars "Salmon Speak to Governor Brown: Full Series

Click on the title to access the movie!!
The entire series on Salmon by Bruce Tokars. From his own words:

What if salmon could speak?  We imagine that they would have a lot to say about how difficult their lives have been because of the way humans have treated their environment.  The past decade has not been kind to salmon but it is not too late to fix the problems that have pushed wild California salmon to the edge of extinction.
The person who can have the greatest impact on reversing salmon’s march to oblivion is California’s past  and current governor, Jerry Brown.  The people he hires or appoints to manage and repair California’s water system can make a difference.  But they need to follow sound science and reject the hysterical political grandstanding of those who only care about their own greedy ambitions.
Fix the Delta
This is the starting point.  Getting the Delta back to health will require stronger flows and much less water diversions.  But if sound, peer-reviewed science is followed, then we believe that salmon can come back to health, too.
Habitat Restoration
Restoring habitat is critical to returning salmon runs back to healthy numbers.  There is much work to be done in rivers and streams and the Delta.  But science knows what needs to happen and if there is a will to fix salmon’s trashed habitat, they will bounce back.
Building Things
Dams, tunnels, and canals are not the answer to salmon’s problems.  There are other solutions that make much more sense. Besides, given California’s fiscal health, expensive construction projects should be out of the question.  The aborted water bond that was removed from the 2010 ballot and moved to  2012 is still a disaster, calling for more dams and more construction.  Building things is still a part of the conversation but it is time to reject that approach, once and for all.
Water Conservation
Agriculture uses 80% of the developed water in California.  Urban users account for 11%.  Both agriculture and urban water users  need to conserve.  Price elasticity is the key to encouraging changed behaviors from all users.
The Best Science
Of all the points made in this video series this is THE most important.  The best science available must be followed if we are to reverse salmon’s decline and restore them back to health.  For too long, sound science has been dismissed or ridiculed by politicians and water managers unwilling to accept any solution that would result in reduced water deliveries.  But it is clear that if the Delta is to be restored and salmon habitats renewed, then strong, peer-reviewed science must lead the way.
Governor Brown, the once bountiful runs of wild California salmon are depending on you and those who  work for you, to be heroes.  To do the right things that will reverse salmon’s sad decline and begin a recovery program that will restore them back to health.  After all, salmon are California’s most senior water rights holder and we have a responsibility to fix what has been so wrong, once and for all.
The Human Costs
When salmon are in trouble, people are hurt.  Fishing families that have depended on healthy runs of salmon are themselves becoming extinct.  Families are hurting. Coastal communities are in trouble.  The infrastructure that supports both commercial and recreational fishing is under severe stress and close to collapsing.  This video, the last of our six-part series speaks to these issues.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time to Save California's Pandora

Time to Save California's Pandora

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Our River is Our Name from International Rivers

Our River is Our Name

Caleen Sisk-Franco, Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, (California, U.S.A)

Caleen Sisk-Franco
Caleen Sisk-Franco

The name of my tribe, Winnemem Wintu, translates to Middle Water people and is taken from the name of our river, the Winnemem Waywakit, which is bounded by the Upper Sacramento to the West and the Pit River to the East.

Now known to most as the McCloud River, it rises from glacial waters in the Cascades, and it runs so clean you can clearly see the rocks, sand and insects that populate its bottom. A series of well-known waterfalls cascade over its basaltic lava beds in feathery ribbons of white and foam.

Because of its beauty, most people here in Northern California probably believe the McCloud is healthy and pristine. But that is only because they don't remember, as my tribe does, how it used to be before it was butchered by dams and left clinging to its life.

The Shasta Dam was built during World War II and flooded the lower 26 miles of our river under its reservoir. It also blocked our sacred relative, the salmon, from traveling to its traditional spawning places. In 1965, the McCloud Dam was built on the upper river and started diverting water to the Pit as part of a lucrative hydroelectric project.  Because of these diversions, our once powerful and rushing river, which once had a winter flow of 6,000 cubic feet per second, now trickles at a mere 200 cfs.

Our river is starved on one side and swollen on the other.  And yet they are not done with it. As we fight to bring our salmon back, we also fight against a proposal to raise the Shasta Dam as well as a McCloud Dam re-licensing that could sustain the crippling diversions for another 50 years.

Just as they have carved up our river, so too have they tried to break our bond with it by extricating us from our traditional lands and refusing to acknowledge our history and right to exist. But they underestimate our resilience: our spiritual connection to our river remains strong and unbroken.

Our river is our name. And we are willing to die to defend it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Winnemem-Wintu: Protecting Women's Rights of Passage

Winnemem-Wintu: Protecting Women's Rights of Passage
by Christina Aanestad
Tuesday Mar 8th, 2011 8:16 AM
Caleen Sisk-Franco, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem-Wintu discusses the Balas Chonas or Puberty Ceremony-which honors a girls transition into womanhood, her decision to declare war against the U.S. government, and her tribes work to return indigenous salmon to the McCloud River, for International Women's Day.

Download audio:
Download audio
winnemem-wbai.mp3 26.5MB

The Winnemem-Wintu, "Middle Water People" are a small tribe of California Native Americans. The U.S. Government relocated them from their land during World War 2 to build the Shasta Dam. After nearly 80 years, under the leadership of Caleen Sisk-Franco, Spiritual Leader and Chief of the Winnemem-Wintu the tribe has returned to the McCloud river, near Shasta Dam to revive the Puberty Ceremony. "Balas Chonas" in Wintu marks a girls transition into womanhood.

For 3 days and nights, men sing and dance on one side of a river, while the women, pass on traditions to girls on the other side, defining the difference between girls and women. But holding a ceremony on stolen land can be a challenge. The U.S. government has not granted the Wintu's requests to access their ancestral land in privacy and the Wintu say a federal plan to raise the Shasta Dam would flood their remaining sacred land.

The ceremony is held with recreational boaters driving by, and camping as the tribe works to hold it's right of passage. Under the guidance of their Chief and Spiritual Leader, Caleen Sisk Franco, the Winnemem-Wintu declared war on the U.S. government in 004, have since sued the federal government to protect their rights and their ancestral land, and is working to return indigenous salmon to the McCloud River watershed. Caleen Sisk Franco says preserving the Puberty Ceremony is preserving their way of life.  

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Report by the UN Independent Expert on Water and Sanitation

Updated UN Independent Expert statement regarding Water and Sanitation visit to the states.

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