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Central Valley | Racial Justice

California Assembly Resolution Urges Feds to Restore Recognition to Winnemem Wintu Tribe
by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Aug 29th, 2007 8:45 AM
Assembly Member Jared Huffman has introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 39, a bill urging Congress to restore federal recognition to the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe.
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
Natural Resources Defense Council

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2007

Contact:
Mark Franco (530)275-2737 (530)510-0944
Barry Nelson (415)875-6100
Debbie Davis (916)743-4406


California Assembly Resolution Urges Feds to Restore Recognition to Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Joint Resolution Would Codify State’s De-Facto Recognition of Northern California Tribe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2007) – In an effort to reverse decades of injustice suffered by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Assembly Member Jared Huffman has introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 39, which urges Congress to restore federal recognition to the tribe.

The Winnemem Wintu are fighting to restore their federally recognized status after the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), without any warning, notified them that their education benefits would be discontinued. Until then, they received benefits and treatment accorded to recognized tribes.

“The Winnemem have paid for California’s progress with our land and our lives,” said Caleen Sisk-Franco, the spiritual leader for the tribe. “Without the protection of federal recognition we are denied services we deserve and the tools we need to protect and maintain our culture.”

Unlike the Bureau of Indian Affairs, California state agencies and even federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service recognize the Winnemem as a legitimate tribe. It is included on the list of California Tribes held by the Native American Heritage Commission, and it has been issued state and federal permits reserved for federally recognized tribes.

“Everyone seems to recognize the Winnemem Wintu Tribe except the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They can’t even explain their own actions providing us with benefits and then taking them away,” said Mark Franco, Headman of the tribe.

The Winnemem are a band of the Wintu whose tribal lands stretch south from Mount Shasta, along the McCloud River to Bear Mountain. They were displaced during the California Gold Rush and removed from their remaining village sites in 1938 when Shasta Dam was built and the area flooded.

The tribe has never been compensated for the loss of its lands. Such compensation was required by an Act of Congress passed before construction of Shasta Dam. The loss of their tribal land and the loss of services provided to the tribe have caused hardships for the Winnemem.

“The bureau’s treatment of the Winnemem is a travesty,” said Debbie Davis, legislative analyst for the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. “After years of failing to distinguish the Winnemem from another tribe, it remains unable to explain how the Winnemem lost their status. This bill sends a clear message urging Congress to correct the bureau’s error and to restore the tribe’s status and eligibility for benefits and legal protections.”

The 125 remaining Winnemem continue to fight to preserve their culture and lifeway. Federal recognition provides the legal framework to protect the tribe’s religious freedom. Assembly Member Huffman’s Joint Resolution, which was introduced last Friday, would reinforce the state’s existing practices regarding the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and add another voice to the effort to restore federal recognition.

“Water projects have caused disastrous impacts on California’s rivers, salmon and other fisheries,” said Barry Nelson, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “They also have produced hardships for the tribes who lived by these rivers for thousands of years. The construction of Shasta Dam resulted in the loss of the Winnemem’s lands and is the single largest reason why the tribe is not recognized today. This resolution calls on the federal government to comply with federal law, to recognize the tribe and to compensate it for its lost lands.”

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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Winnemem Wintu & water rights
Wednesday Aug 29th, 2007 11:58 AM
Dan wrote;

"The Winnemem are a band of the Wintu whose tribal lands stretch south from Mount Shasta, along the McCloud River to Bear Mountain. They were displaced during the California Gold Rush and removed from their remaining village sites in 1938 when Shasta Dam was built and the area flooded."

What are some possible reasons the BIA refuses to recognize the Winnemem Wintu? There is some evidence that the battle over water rights may be motivation enough for our government leaders to refuse recognition of the Winnemem Wintu..

Now that Nestle corporation is attempting to build their water bottling facility in McCloud by taking excessive amounts of water from Mt. Shasta's aquifer, the Wintu status of recognition is especially relevant. Nestle's withdrawal of nearly over 8 billion gallons per day will no doubt effect the water quality of the watershed, Pit River, McCloud River, where the McCloud rainbow & red band trout reside. The Winnemem Wintu also depend on these endemic fish species for their cultural and physical surival..

"It has been two years since Nestlé snuck into McCloud and within three months sweet talked our McCloud Community Services Board (MCSD) into signing a 100 year deal for the sale and purchase of spring water from McCloud’s three springs. The District agreed to multiple terms of which the most egregious is the sale of the insufferable amount of 1,250 gallons of spring water per minute to be bottled at a plant in McCloud, becoming one of the biggest water bottling facilities in the country. The district would drill bore holes and wells for the proposed plant. At full build out, the plant size, one building, could accommodate every existing building in the community of McCloud."

article @;
http://www.mountshastaecology.org/14Nestle.html

The above article may be slightly dated, check what's new @;
http://www.honorearth.org/whatsnew.html

also;
http://www.winnememwintu.us/

Here's some extra news from MCloud Watershed Council;

"Water News and MCW Updates

County confirms Nestle DEIR recirculation

Mt. Shasta News, August 8, 2007

As has been expected for several weeks, the Siskiyou County Public Health Department announced last week that the Draft Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Assessment for the proposed Nestle water bottling plant in McCloud will be recirculated at an undetermined future date."

also;

"The Nestle Project: Environmental Impacts

1. The Nestlé project plant will reduce water flows to the McCloud River Falls, Squaw Creek, Soda Springs, Big Springs, Muir Springs and Mud Creek.

All of these places are an integral part of McCloud's heritage and of its future potential. If the experience of other communities is any indication, any or all of these local treasures could be permanently damaged or destroyed before we could stop Nestlé in court. Nestlé's approach in Michigan and Texas has been to continue drawing water long after local wells, streams and springs begin to be harmed by their water-bottling activities. Nestlé's well-funded legal teams are able to postpone judgments for years by using the appeals courts, enabling them to continue pumping tens of millions of gallons of water in the meantime and effectively destroying riparian areas long before the courts can rule. That is quite a risk to take with our most beloved natural heritage. Read Dr. Tom Myer's hydrologist review of the DEIR.

2. The lava tube hydrology of McCloud's aquifer makes Nestlé's plan to drill bore holes high risk for the people of McCloud.
The entire community could see a loss of wells and springs below any bore hole intake. This is exactly what happened in Dunsmuir with the Mt. Shasta Spring Water project. Because of legal loopholes, Mt. Shasta Spring Water was never held accountable for their impact on their neighbors. Nestlé has used the same loopholes in other communities to avoid responsibility for similar disasters.

3. The project puts our historic fisheries at risk.
The McCloud River is a world-class trout stream. Yet, there was absolutely no research done on the impacts of Nestlé's water draw on the fishery before the contract was signed. According to the District, 1300 of the 1600 acre-feet that Nestlé would take is currently feeding Squaw Valley Creek, which in turn feeds the McCloud River. The McCloud River has been a destination for anglers for roughly 125 years. The money brought to McCloud by fishing helps to sustain McCloud's small businesses. Why would we blindly jeopardize that resource and income with no scientific data and only Nestlé's word as reassurance?

4. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will not protect us.
There are plenty of loopholes that large corporations use to get around CEQA requirements. California law is full of stories of CEQA failing to protect communities like ours from corporations like Nestlé. We can't depend on state law to save us. The community must work with our county government to make its wishes known and to ensure that those wishes are respected."

visit MWC @;
http://www.mccloudwatershedcouncil.org/nestle/environment.html

Then there's the raising of Shasta Dam, which would flood additional sacred sites of the Wintu along the Pit River, additionally causing the effects of stagnation of the tributaries feeding Shasta Lake, similar effects of the Klamath River of lower dissolved oxygen content, warmer temps, increasing algal blooms, etc..

Any additional withdrawal of fresh aquifer water supplies by Nestle's McCloud bottling plant would impact the fishery habitat most severly. If the Winnemem wintu remain unrecognized by the BIA, their political clout is also diminished, giving them less voice to oppose these destructive thefts of region's water and riparian ecosystem fisheries..
by requires cold fresh water from aquifers!
Wednesday Aug 29th, 2007 12:14 PM
The Shasta rainbow trout resides in the McCloud River, and requires the input of cold, fresh water from the Mt.Shasta aquifer, if Nestle withdraws their billions of gallons per day, the Shasta rainbow trout could be another sad memory of extinctions..

"The world-famous Shasta rainbow trout shares the waters with the exotic (non-native) brown trout, first introduced by sportsmen in the mid-1930s. The McCloud was formerly the southernmost refuge for the bull trout or "Dolly Varden," which is, like the Shasta rainbow, a member of the salmon family. Although once a common sight, the bull trout has not been seen in the McCloud since 1975 and has been declared locally extinct. Riffle sculpin, another McCloud native species, abound in the cobble-lined portions of the river."

article @;
http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/preserves/art9786.html

additional background info, maps, etc..@;
http://www.sacredland.org/endangered_sites_pages/shasta_dam.html