Winnemem Wintu Demands Forest Service Stop Harassment at Ceremonies
Indian Country Today, April 17, 2012
“Outside the towering, gray walls of the U.S. Forest Service’s office in Vallejo, California, April 16, the Winnemem Wintu’s War Dance song pealed out defiantly from nearly 50 tribal members and supporters who held signs reading “Respect Native Women. Close the River” and “Our Ceremony, Our Rights, Close the River.”
Inside, Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk, wearing a traditional basket hat and a wreath of dentalia necklaces, waited to speak with the regional Forester – the one and only official she believed could save her tribe’s upcoming ceremony from disaster.”
March 24, 2012
“Choked to a trickle by the dry winter, the McCloud River rebelliously purled Feb. 13 as Caleen Sisk led anthropologist Lyla Johnston through parched shrubbery to an endangered Winnemem Wintu sacred site.
A formation of ashen gray rocks were painted with fiery colors by the canyon’s alpenglow, and an adjacent stream gurgled and eddied into small pools as it wove down to the river.
“This is the Women’s Blessing Place where we bring women who have suffered from traumatic experiences, who have something that they carry around inside of them and that they need taken out,” Sisk, the Winnemem Wintu tribe’s spiritual leader and chief, told Johnston.”
March 7, 2012
“Over the years, many entrepreneurs have encouraged the Winnemem Wintu tribe to grow their traditional herbs and healing plants in greenhouses, bottle them and sell them for a profit, Spiritual Leader and Chief Caleen Sisk told a group of Stanford medical and undergraduate students recently.
But the Winnemem, a traditional tribe of 125 members, have steadfastly resisted mass-producing their medicines, Sisk said, as they believe it would damage their healing potency.”
California Watch – August 31, 2011
“For nearly 70 years, the McCloud River in Northern California has been bereft of the Chinook salmon spawning runs for which it was once known. But for a few hours this summer, the Winnemem Wintu tribe revived the river’s memory of the lost, sacred fish.
“We Winnemem are a salmon people, but because of the Shasta Dam, the salmon can’t swim this river anymore,” tribal member Rick Wilson told about 100 Winnemem and supporters at the river’s falls. “So we have to do it for them.”
Christian Science Monitor - online
Aug. 22, 2011
“Caleen Sisk-Franco and her niece Marisa Sisk watch an eagle fly across the McCloud River canyon. Marisa is training to become the tribe’s next spiritual leader. Her coming of age ceremony on the river was postponed this July because of the threat of interference from recreational boaters.”
Christian Science Monitor
Aug. 22, 2011
“Sisk-Franco is the spiritual leader and chief of the Winnemem Wintu, a small traditional native American tribe of 123 people, and she is also a well-known Indian doctor, or shaman. But one of Sisk-Franco’s spiritual doctoring tools is technically illegal. This March, the US Fish and Wildlife Service revoked her right to possess eagle feathers because her tribe isn’t recognized by federal authorities.
For thousands of years, the Winnemem Wintu have practiced their culture among the sentinel pines and glacial waters of the McCloud River watershed, but that history is legally moot because they don’t appear on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) list of recognized tribes. . . “
High Country News, June 9, 2011
15-acres of undeveloped landscape sits as an oasis among the undulating, cookie cutter housing developments that crowd the edges of the Carquinez Strait, a natural tidal channel in Vallejo, California.
At this spot, known as Glen Cove Waterfront Park, a swath of yellow grass, dappled with the woody stems of wild fennel, leads to the water’s edge where Eucalyptus trees tower above marshy banks. The occasional clatter of trundling trains across the strait is the only sound that breaks the peace.
For many local residents, it’s a calming place away from the sprawled-out landscape that expands from the Bay Area.
But for Corrina Gould, a Chocheny/Karkin Ohlone tribal member) and other Native Americans, it’s more than that. Glen Cove’s Ohlone name is Sogorea Te. It’s a former village site of Gould’s people that dates back to at least 1500 BC, and it was once a vibrant trading outpost used by many tribes for commerce, intermarriage and burials. . .
High Country News, April 7, 2011
Marine Sisk-Franco has been a Winnemem Wintu Indian for all of her years, and the Northern California tribe’s way of life is all she knows. She’s the daughter of the tribe’s chief and their headman, she’s danced and sung at their ceremonies, and, in 2006, she bravely endured racial taunts and threats from drunken power boaters who cruelly marred her coming of age ceremony, known as a Balas Chonas, as it took place on the banks of the McCloud River. . .
High Country News, Feb. 28, 2011
Arron Sisk took the smoldering sunflower root and undulated it from Catarina de Albuquerque’s feet to the top of her head, its pungent smoke curling above her like a spectral crown.
He then held it beneath her nose, and told her the root would clear her mind from bad thoughts, allow her to see and hear only the good things and to speak honestly from her heart.
“Ho!” the Winnemem Wintu Tribe said in unison. More than 30 of them gathered Sunday in the tribe’s small prayerhouse to welcome a special guest to their small village of Tuiimyali, 42-acres of former allotment land outside Redding, Calif. . .
High Desert Journal, Winter 2011
This July the Winnemem held a five-day puberty ceremony (or Balas Chonas) at the sacred Puberty Rock site (Kokospom to the Winnemem), which is now owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Balas Chonas represents the coming of age for the tribe’s teenage girls who symbolically transition into womanhood by swimming across the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake on the last day. It was only the second puberty ceremony the tribe had held since the dam’s construction, and the last ceremony in 2006 was marred when the Forest Service allowed drunken boaters to pass through the site. . .
High Country News, Jan. 13, 2011
The Los Angeles community Sherman Oaks sounds like a place that should be verdant and laden with leafy trees. Not surprisingly, the students of Arbol University found that to be exactly true.
Yet the students, who were using trigonometry and other tools to collect data about Los Angeles’s urban tree canopy, were shocked at the disparity they found between the different neighborhoods they surveyed. . .
High Country News, Dec. 22, 2010
On a sun-splattered March afternoon, a drumbeat thundered through New Zealand’s Rakaia Gorge. Layers of beads and abalone shells shook around Rick Wilson’s neck as he wove his way through a row of dancers representing spawning salmon. As the salmon spirit, Wilson — the dance captain for the Winnemem Wintu — an unrecognized tribe of 123 from Redding, Calif., moved to a group of warriors stomping by the fire. He touched their shoulders as he passed, a sign of an apology accepted.
The ceremony, performed this spring for the first time in 70 years, was part of an effort to restore the California tribe’s spiritual connection to salmon, severed when Shasta Dam was completed during World War II . . .
High Country News, Dec. 08, 2010
At a Southern Nevada Health District public hearing this October, farmer Norm Tom said that he and his tribe had “seen a lot of death” in the last 35 years, and he placed the blame squarely on the neighboring Reid Gardner coal-fueled power plant, run by Nevada’s primary power company, NV Energy.
“Every time we make a complaint or a phone call, you guys haven’t done anything about controlling all this daggone dust.” Tom said. “We breathe it; we even eat it…it’s better just to bring all the Indian people out and shoot ‘em all with a 45 caliber gun . . .”
Change.org, October 22, 2010
There’s a long, dark history of Indian boarding schools that’s rarely taught in American classrooms. The original motto was “kill the Indian, save the man.” Students at these schools had their native culture and language literally beaten out of them.
A few boarding schools still exist, and many Indians are not far removed from these haunting memories. So it’s no wonder some Indians view modern public schools with suspicion as their students drop out at a rate that’s twice the national average. The UCLA Civil Rights Project recently issued a report documenting this phenomenon, calling it a “crisis” that threatens the future of the American Indian community. . .
Cascade, Fall 2010
Dana Garves was fascinated with chemistry the moment her 8th grade teacher unveiled the periodic table.
As he described the first 20 elements, she was captivated by the image of electrons hurtling through space around the nucleus, like a miniature galaxy of celestial bodies orbiting and pulsating in everything she touched, even the very desk she was sitting in. “Just to think that this was the building block of all matter, it was fascinating,” said Garves, now a UO senior. “I was hooked, but I didn’t think I’d ever go into it as a career.”
Garves (above) was the sort of teen who would rescue unnecessarily discarded aluminum cans and plastic bottles from her friends’ homes for recycling. She was raised with a mind steeped in green, a color that seemed to clash with her chemistry interests.
“I had issues with toxicity in chemistry,” she said. “But in high school labs no one taught us about that. I’d be wondering why we couldn’t use the chemicals we read about. I’d think: If they’re so dangerous why don’t we use something else?”
Nevertheless, she enrolled at the University of Oregon as a chemistry major, thinking she would probably switch eventually. On the first day of her introductory chemistry class, however, she heard two words that changed everything: “Green chemistry” . . .
GlobalPost, June 10, 2010
When the Winnemem Wintu tribe traveled from their home in California to New Zealand this spring, they carried with them dozens of hard-coated suitcases and bazooka-shaped tubes, protection for some of their most delicate and hallowed possessions.
Inside were feather trailers, headdresses, spears, manzanita firewood and a variety of sacred regalia that are inextricably tied to the small tribe’s spiritual beliefs and were required for a ceremony they planned to hold while abroad. To the Winnemem, these are items of the highest religious potency.
But to New Zealand Biosecurity officials these were also items that posed a potential threat to their island’s delicate ecosystem and agricultural industry. . .
Read the full story here
Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2010
The eel was there, just as the Maori said it would be. About two feet long and colored a misty sapphire, the longfin eel billowed in place beneath the glassy waters as the Winnemem Wintu watched in rapt silence.
With the foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps looming in the distance, about two dozen members of the northern California tribe had lined the banks to peer into the shallow creek. Many aimed video or still cameras down at the South Island waterway, a traditional spawning ground for the country’s modest chinook salmon fishery. The small tribe had traveled across the Pacific to commune with their sacred salmon, which they hadn’t seen in more than 60 years. . .
Read the full story here.
American Indian students race to preserve tribal languages before they disappear
Cascade, Spring, 2010
Greg Sutterlict grew up in Lacey, Wash., on the other side of the mountains from his tribe’s reservation, but the barrier between his immediate family and their Yakama traditions was as much emotional as it was physical.
In boarding school, like many of his peers, Sutterlict’s father had been taught that the old ways — whether it was singing, attending pow-wows or spending time in the sweat lodge — were evil. His father also never learned the Yakama’s tribal language, Sahaptin, and Sutterlict himself picked up only a few words here and there.
Sutterlict’s great-grandfather spoke the language, but it wasn’t until later in life that he explained why he never passed it on to the younger generations.
“He said, ‘You know, they really tortured us at the boarding schools for speaking the language, and that’s why I never wanted you to learn. Now I wish I would have taught you, but it’s too late’,” recalled Sutterlict, who was a teenager at the time. . .
Read the full story here.
What happens when a superhero fantasy collides with reality?
Etude, Winter 2010
“. . . One weekend Zetaman sneaked to the garage where he kept his gear in a box next to the Christmas decorations. He quickly got dressed in his superhero regalia and presented himself to Allison, who was in the bedroom. No introduction. No preamble.
“I’m Zetaman of Portland,” he told her solemnly, as if this was supposed to mean something to her.
“Okay, then,” she said. “And I’m the queen of France. I have no idea what you’re saying. It’s not even close to Halloween.” Meow had no clue.
Her husband explained how he’d been patrolling the streets as Zetaman, how instead of coming home right after work he was wandering around one of Portland’s more dangerous neighborhoods all by himself. She was confused, and she was angry. . . .”
Read the full story here.
It happened one night at the new Springfield jail
Eugene Register-Guard, Jan. 28, 2010
” . . . The door is slammed shut, and it clangs with a sickening, plangent thud. Morphew flinches ever so slightly.
Overall, there’s a palpable sense of excitement that pervades the air.
Many of the Pod C guys admit that previous to tonight, they had images of dusty Old West jails swimming in their brains. There’s something almost romantic about spending the night behind bars, standing in the place of John Dillinger or Babyface Nelson.
But there is nothing romantic about Pod C. It’s devoid of color. While daylight supposedly seeps in through the window and grated hole high in the ceiling, mostly it’s just you under the harsh fluorescent lights in a sprawling room of sharp right angles and hard metal. . . “
Read the full story here.
One scientist’s fight against fungal bigotry
Etude, Spring 2009
” . . . It’s an almost Pavlovian response for those who’ve been enchanted by the truffle’s mystic spell. The moment it hits their palm, it springs straight to the nose for a deep intimate whiff.
The teen places the white nugget gently in Lefevre’s hand. Lefevre cradles it gently, almost tenderly, between his thumb and forefinger, and takes a sniff of remarkable restraint.
“This one’s mature alright,” he says. “That’s a nice one.”
There is nothing polite or moderate about the aroma of a truffle. Within the bundle of its molecules scientists have discovered a pheromone present in human sweat, and so it perhaps makes sense that truffles themselves are the fruit of microscopic lovemaking. Amongst the trees roots, microscopic threads of mycelium weave and tangle like the tendrils of jellyfish in what amounts to mycological foreplay. . . “
Read the full story here.