The Winnemem Wintu tribe of Northern California are once again faced with the threat of losing their sacred lands. U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have co-sponsored the California Emergency Drought Relief Act, which calls for raising the height of the Shasta Dam by over 18 feet. This would flood what remains of Winnemem Wintu traditional homeland, most of which was submerged when the Shasta Dam was constructed in 1945 and already lies several hundred feet below Shasta Lake. Damming the Sacramento River also stopped the salmon migrations that the tribe had depended on for centuries, forcing many tribe members to relocate.
I first became aware of the struggle of the Winnemam Wintu when I worked as a soundtrack composer for the Sacred Land Film Project. One of the episodes in the powerful Standing on Sacred Ground minseries features the Winnemam’s GPS mapping project, an effort to document a comprehensive network of sacred sites in and around Shasta Lake and the McCloud River watershed. The Sacred Lands Film Project is now leading the call to support the Winnemem Wintu and to help protect remains of their land. You can help by signing their petition, contacting Senator Boxer demanding that the Shasta Dam proposal be removed from the legislation, and to receive updates on the issue.
For more information, contact Toby McLeod from the Sacred Land Film Project:
Christopher (Toby) McLeod
Sacred Land Film Project
2150 Allston Way, Ste 440
Berkeley CA 94704