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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Monday, April 04, 2011

A message worth repeating

The Winnemem Wintu have a well-documented history and pre-history in our traditional territory. We have our spiritual healers and doctors who still practice our ways of wellness through herbal medicines, ceremony, prayers, and songs. We go to our sacred places and dance for all our relations. It is this continuous movement of the Wintu people that verifies we have never changed or become extinct. 

We, the Wintu Tribe, are a proud religious people. We have survived the settlement of America, the extermination and termination policies of the United States, and the sicknesses brought to us by those who came to "civilize" us. Now we find that U.S. government, after killing our people and taking our land, can't remember who we are so we must prove that we are a tribe in order to regain federal acknowledgment so we can protect our religious practices and sacred places.

Our tribal history is long in the knowledge and tradition of our religion and it is that religion that keeps our people alive. We take care of many sacred places located in northern California on what has always been "our land." We continue to do our religious job that the Creator put us down in this part of the world to do.

We come from Mount Shasta (Bullyum Pui Yuk). This fact makes us people of nature. It also is the foundation of our religion, provides us our place of worship, and makes us responsible for the care of the mountain, which we do through prayers, songs, and dances. We have other places, too, like Cold Spring Mountain (Chi Di Chi De Chi De Kee) that was made by the great Creator for the Wintu Tribe to take care of. In return, the mountains and sacred places take care of the people by sending the healing spirits, herbs and medicines, and by teaching the doctoring ways. Our trails once formed a spider web on our sacred mountain and the many sacred places that must hear us sing and listen to our prayers. Unfortunately, today many huge areas have been lost due to clear-cut logging methods and strip-mining techniques, and land developers who support the non-Indian life styles and economy.

Wintu spiritual elders have known and continue to this day to teach the history of the places and their spiritual significance in the practices of the tribe's spiritual existence. They know the powers the Creator bestowed on Mount Shasta and the history and use of each of the many sacred sites dotting the mountainside. Each spiritual doctor and initiate must know the importance of each place; the uses of the herbs and plants found at each site; the spirits who inhabit each place and how to communicate to those spiritual beings: the rocks and springs and the trees. The mountains are sad when the Wintu cannot come to hold ceremony, dance, pray and sing. When the Wintu can no longer perform our religious jobs, the Creator has said the world will we thrown out of balance.

We fight on, however, because if we are to lose, there will be no place in the world where you will find Wintu people and Mt. Shasta.

Florence Jones (Pui-lu-le-met), my late grandmother asked,
            "What gives the white people the right to come here and kill my people, take our homes away and treat us so badly? Our blood is the same as other human beings. We are people, too. Just because the color of my skin is brown that doesn't give  them more rights than the Creator put down for all people. I'm trying to make the white man see that the sacred spring on Mt Shasta, the herbal medicines, and the spiritual doctoring we use to heal our people are all connected. It is not something that can be separated out. Don't they know that the Wintu have had religion to stay well all these years before they came to our land? Our children  will need our religious ways, our language and sacred places to call themselves Wintu Indians in the future."

We need to educate our children, we need food, clothing and shelter for our elders, we need traditional medicine for all, we need our sacred places to meet with our people, and most of all we need access to and protection for our sacred lands!

            We leave you with the Blessings of the Sacred Mount Shasta.

                                      Respectfully We Walk Together,


Caleen Sisk-Franco and Mark Franco