Published on Nov 3, 2015

The legendary Winnemem Wintu healer, Florence Jones (1907-2003), passed on leadership of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to Caleen Sisk over a decade ago. Although Chief Sisk is recognized the world over as a powerful indigenous leader, the U.S. government continues its failure to recognize the Winnemem Wintu. Could it be due to their determined opposition to Bureau of Reclamation plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam, which would flood most of the remaining Winnemem sacred places along the McCloud River in northern California? We have gone back into our archives to edit this 11-minute short film about the continuity of leadership among the Winnemem Wintu, one of the criteria for federal recognition. Enjoy.

I just signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate: We are a small, traditional tribe in Northern California, and we are struggling to survive as a culture and maintain our indigenous religious practices, which are all threatened by the U.S. government’s proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. We were flooded out, and not compensated, with the building of Shasta Dam in 1945, and we lost many villages, burial sites and sacred sites beneath the Lake, a loss that still causes our people much heartache to this day. This latest proposal would inundate or damage more than 40 sacred sites, including our Coming of Age ceremony grounds on the Winnemem Waywaqat (McCloud River). Representative Jim Costa, of Fresno, has introduced a bill, H.R. 4125,co-signed by a number of California Democratic Congressmen, to raise the dam. No mention of the standing debt to our people. Senator Diane Feinstein also supports the dam raise and will probably introduce a bill authorize it soon. You can make a difference to support Winnemem Wintu cultural survival by telling Congress not to authorize the proposal to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. Learn more about why the dam raise must be stopped at

Chief Caleen Sisk, Winnemem Wintu:
“…We’re Indigenous here, as they are to Mt. Fuji.  
I understand that there are many people in
Japan who hold Mt. Fuji very sacred.
Crystal Geyser is a company coming from Japan.  
…This water is more than just pure water.  
It’s sacred water.  And we need to protect it.  
I ask the people in Japan to help us Honor the Sacred.”

“That’s the weapon of mass destruction, that took our homes, our burials, and our salmon, and left us with nothing.  And now we’re not even Indians any more.”

– Chief Caleen Sisk

This month the Bureau of Reclamation is gloating over its 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Shasta Dam.

The Winnemem Wintu people have nothing to celebrate in this mockery of our loss!


Follow The Salmon

A quote by Chief Caleen Sisk, from the film Dancing Salmon Home, winner of the Best Documentary Feature at the 2012 American Indian Film Festival.