Winnemem Wintu Tribe Embarks on 300-Mile Journey to Bring Back Salmon Sept. 14-29

VALLEJO, California September 13, 2019 – For the fourth consecutive year, Chief Caleen Sisk and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe will lead a 300-mile prayerful journey tracing the migratory spawning route of winter-run Chinook salmon to advocate for the restoration of salmon runs, protection of waterways and preservation of the lifeways of indigenous people. 

Known as the Run4Salmon,the 2019 journey is the culmination of four years of organizing, music and ceremony, which has established a powerful, indigenous led movement to protect the state’s endangered salmon. The Winnemem Wintu are also gathering support for their own plan to return salmon to the McCloud River.

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“The winter-run Chinook salmon are on the verge of extinction,” said Chief Sisk. “Years of drought, pollution and water mismanagement have devastated their once thriving populations. Since Shasta Dam was built 74 years ago, salmon have been unable to return to their waters in the Winnemem’s ancestral watershed. We are working to bring the genetic descendants of our salmon from New Zealand back to their home waters.”

In a struggle that parallels Native Hawaiians’ stand to defend Mauna Kea from the Thirty-Meter Telescope, the Winnemem Wintu are fighting the proposed 18.5-foot raise of Shasta Dam, which would submerge or damage at least 40 sacred sites on the McCloud River. Many of their sacred sites and cemeteries were already lost to the Shasta Lake. 

The proposed infrastructure project, backed by the Trump administration, is the subject of multiple lawsuits. Another potential target of lawsuits is the Trump administration’s California water plan which ignores or hastily rewrites biological studies to justify diverting even more water, needed by endangered salmon, to corporate agribusiness. 

The Run4Salmon will begin on the afternoon of Saturday, September 14, when Chief Sisk and Lisjan Ohlone leader Corrina Gouldwill hold an opening ceremony at Sogorea Te (Glen Cove in Vallejo), an Ohlone sacred site. Run4Salmon participants will begin the journey the next day, following a 300-mile route that will encompass walking, running, biking, boating, singing, dancing and horseback riding until they have reached the salmon spawning grounds on the “middle water” or WinnememWaywaket(McCloud River). The journey will end with a closing ceremony on Sunday, September 29 at a Winnemem Wintu village and ceremonial site on the McCloud River.