Saturday, April 25, 2009

WW/ The Winnemem Lawsuit against the Federal Government, Summarized

Following is a quick summary provided by Environmental Justice for Water, strong allies of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe:

Filed in the United States District Court, eastern District of California, Sacramento, CA
April 20, 2009

* Plantiff: The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their leaders, Chief Caleen Sisk-Franco and Headman Mark Franco

*Defendants: US dept. of Interior; Bureau of reclamation; Bureau of Indian Affiars; Bureau of Land Management; Us Dept of Agriculture; US Forest Service; and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture; and other responsible agency officials.

*Purpose of the Conplaint: The Winnemem Wintu Tribe seeks relief and damages for the destruction and damage of Traditional Cultural Properties within the Winnemem's apboriginal homelands.

Background Facts:
+The Winnemem Wintu Tribe has lived on the McCloud River and the area now flooded by Shasta Lake for at least 6000 years. The Winnemem have endured hardship, difficulty, and damage to their cultural identity over the last two centuries at the hands of the United States government. Today, the threat to the Winnemem is even greater, as the government's plan to raise the water level of the Shasta Lake Dam will result in cultural annhilation.
+Thehistor of the relationship between the Winnemem and the US government is marked with unfulfilled and broken promises.
+Through an error, the BIA did not include the Winnemem on the 1978 list of federally recognized tribesw, though the Winnemem had previously been recognized a sovereign entity.
+The Shasta Reservoir Indian Cemetery is supposed to be held in trust for the Winnemem. However, the Winnemem have been told by the BLM (which now has trust responsibility for the cemetery), that regulations will not permit additional burials in the cemetery due to the lack of federal acknowledgement and an internal BLM policy that forbids burial on "their" trust lands.

Current Harms:
+The ddestruction of Winnemem Cultural Sites is current and ongoing and includes several incidents and sites.
+In 2007, the UsF's forbade the Winnemem from using a significant ceremonial site by revoking a special use permit.

Future Harms: Raising the level of the Shasta Dam will irreparably damage many of the last remaining Winnemem cultural properties resulting in catastrophic harm to the Winnemem people.

Causes of Action: Negligence, gross negligence, trespass, public and private nuisance, conversion (the unlawful taking of Winnemem land), intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and declaratory relief.

+Declaratory judgments as to the Causes of Action
+An order to study and report on the extent of damages to Winnemem cultural properties
+Damages to be determined by the Court

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

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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.