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Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Racial Justice
U.S. Forest Service still refuses to fully protect Winnemem Wintu coming of age ceremonies
The U.S. Forest Service has partly given in to the requests from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to protect their coming of age ceremonies for their young women. Yet the coming of age ceremonies are still subject to intrusion from hostile people and gawkers.
June 26, 2012
The Honorable Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
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re: U.S. Forest Service refuses to protect coming of age ceremonies for Winnemem Wintu Tribe's young women
Dear Secretary Salazar:
I am writing to plead with you to require the U.S. Forest Service to close off the ceremonial grounds where the Winnemem Wintu Tribe will soon be holding their coming of age ceremonies for their young women next to the McCloud River. This is imperative because their coming of age ceremonies, to my understanding, will take place within the next week.
The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to close the McCloud river to hostile boaters along the ceremonial grounds, but this still leaves the ceremonial grounds open to disruption by hostile people and gawkers. Please view this video interview of Winnemem Wintu Chief and spiritual leader Caleen Sisk:
Why won't the U.S. government protect the religious rights of the Winnemem Wintu people? The Winnemem Wintu are not asking for much. Why won't the U.S. government allow the Winnemem Wintu to pass on their traditional culture uninterrupted by hostile people and gawkers — why is the U.S. government disrespecting the Winnemem Wintu religion?
The U.S. government doesn't treat Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims like this. Why won't the U.S. government protect the religious rights of the Winnemem Wintu like they do for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims?
If the U.S. Forest Service can finally close down the McCloud River for supposed health and safety issues, then why can't they extend this to the ceremonial grounds for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe's coming of age ceremonies for their young women — why should the Winnemem Wintu's sacred religious ceremonies be subject to hostile persons and gawkers (who might disrupt these ceremonies ruining their integrity)?
It would be tragic if the Winnemem Wintu's culture is extinguished because the U.S. Forest Service refuses to protect the Winnemem Wintu Tribe's ceremonial grounds from unwelcome intrusion, causing their cultural genocide. It saddens me that the Winnemem Wintu have had to advocate unsuccessfully for such a long time to gain meager accommodations from the U.S. Forest Service.
Is the U.S. government so blatantly callous that it will open up the sacred religious ceremonies of the Winnemem Wintu and their young women to hostile people and gawkers, ruining the sacred nature of these rites?
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.
John E. Colby, Ph.D.
email: colby [at] docktorcat.com
849 Almar Avenue, Suite C–242
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Is every caller to the Forest Service about the Winnemem Wintu getting courtesy call updates to answer their questions? They're doing it for me. The confirmed that if the BIA recognized the Winnemem Wintu as a tribe that the Forest Service could fully protect them, including their ceremonial grounds.