Please write a letter to Ms. J. Sharon Heywood, Forest Supervisor/Shasta-Trinity National Forest/3644 Avtech Parkway/Redding CA 96002 and cc: Randy Moore, Regional Supervisor/ Pacific Southwest Region/1323 Club Drive/Vallejo, CA 94592
Here is the issue, and thank you for taking some time for Marisa and her right to religious freedom and safety, and her right to be a strong traditional Winnemem woman and future Chief of her tribe.
In 2004, Chief Caleen Sisk brought back the Coming of Age Ceremony
after a decades-long interruption due to the drowning of the Winnemem
homeland by Shasta Dam. At that time, and again in 2010, Supervisor
Heywood refused to impose a mandatory closure and only approved
a “voluntary closure.” As a result, the ceremonial participants, elders,
children, and guests suffered racist taunts and heckling, and even a
drunken woman flashing her breasts, from boaters who ignored the
“closure”. Both years, law enforcement had to close the river during the
fourth day of the ceremony due to serious safety concerns. A video of
the incidents during the 2006 ceremony is posted on the tribe’s YouTube
We have exhausted all options in trying to convince Shasta Trinity Supervisor Sharon
Heywood to close a short 300 yard stretch of the McCloud River, where it runs through the ancestral village of Kaibai and meets Shasta Lake in Northern California during our Coming of Age Ceremonies for our young women.
Please respect our young Winnemem women’s right to become strong traditional women.
Please use your authority to order the mandatory closure of a short 300 yard section of the McCloud River for our “distinctive traditional practices.” While it may be a small inconvenience for the USFS, for the Winnemem it means the future of our people, because it is the traditional women who are the foundation of the tribe. Our goal is very simple – that the Forest Service honor the provisions of the UN DRIP, signed in 2011
by President Obama, and federal and state laws which protect the rights of indigenous women and their ceremonies and traditions.
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