Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Call to Action

Caleen Sisk Franco, who is Chief of the Winnemem Wintu, and her husband Mark Franco, Headman, just returned from Washington DC. They spent a week ore more meeting with Senators on the Hill advocating for restoration of the tribe. During August the California legislature had successfully pushed forward a state restoration of the tribe. Politicians and lawmakers have always dealt with the Winnemem as a tribe, but when in the ‘80’s the Winnemem were dropped from the “list of recognized tribe” without warning, (they were told it was a “clerical error”) government did not remedy the mistake.

The next step for federal recognition lies in the hands of the Senate. Senators Barb Boxer and Diane Feinstein are being asked to sponsor the Winnemem Wintu Restoration Bill. We need everyone’s help. If you are reading this blog, please help the Winnemem get justice and their due attention as a sovereign tribe.

The Winnemem have been told that although they are a small tribe, that if they tell their story, the good people of the world will listen and help them. Caleen Sisk Franco's young son,
Michael Preston, has issued a Call to Action for allies and tribal members of the Winnemem Wintu.

Please write your senators as well as the California Senators, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein or call them urging the California senators to sponsor the legislation (and other senators to co-sponsor or support the legislation):

We urge you (to sponsor) (to co-sponsor or support) the legislation for federal recognition of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California. We ask for your leadership to bring justice to this traditional, non-gaming Tribe that has been subjected to more than 100 years of injustice.

The Winnemem were omitted from the list of federally recognized Tribes in the 1980's. The Winnemem received benefits from the federal government prior to this omission, such as housing and educational assistance. The abrupt cessation of benefits ended access to local Indian Health Service care, housing assistance, and the ability of tribal members to apply for Higher Education Grant funds they had only years before used to pursue college degrees. Please let them know that their assistance with this restoration effort will allow these benefits to come back to the Winnemem and right this egregious wrong.

We need everyone’s help. We especially need letters to come from tribes, so if you are tribal, please let that be known. Many tribal people may not know that in California, 90 percent of the tribes were not recognized. And of the 10 percent, only six percent are HISTORICAL recognized tribe. The Winnemem and all the other historical unrecognized tribes are not people who were torn from their way at a young age and are seeking their identity. The Winnemem have never stopped doing what they were put on this earth to do. They take care of their sacred sites, active sacred sites. They retain the ceremonies, songs, medicines and way of life. They stubbornly continue on despite non-recognition, and snubs by government agencies, Bureau of Reclamation, corporations. Many of their children are home schooled for much of their school age life, and they all take their part in ceremonies, training to carry on their sacred duty to care for the land. The Winnemem are not a gaming tribe. They carry a full load by keeping their way of life going. Please help the Winnemem Tribe, small as their numbers may be, they are a strong and tenacious people; help them to regain their tribal status by contacting your senators.

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

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. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.