Wednesday, May 30, 2012

War Dance Report 1 to Winnemem Support Group

WSGO was represented at the H'up Chonos Ceremony by Ruth Koenig, Will Doolittle, Lemuel Charley, Kayla Godawa, Julie Bacon, CAER, Bird from Ashland, Marilyn Sanchez, CAER, and myself.

The Forest Service did not close the river, but we have a lot of information now, one being we have the capability, as we have demonstrated, to close down the river and there are hundreds who will come out to do it. We have educated many more people face to face through the presence of allies, the press, the American Friends Society observer and other observers as well as filmmakers from Mendincino, indie radio, San Francisco Chronicle, the local paper, a local tv station. Thanks to Will and Marc, the Winnemem website has had day by day reportage. Plus, actually, Dadigan has investigated and found out the identities of some of the people who harassed us on the day after most of our supporters went home.

More importantly we have put out our strong prayers through this important ceremony that Winnemem have used throughout their existence when they are put against the wall and have only prayer and their strong sacred places and the Fire to turn to. These prayers have given us the guidance we need to move forward, and as the Chief says, we will be supported and helped. Everything will be alright.

I am very touched by the heartfelt support from Oregon. The Wild Salmon Run funds literally will be used for one of two things. Both are critical for the survival of the Winnemem and help prevent Cultural Genocide. I am not over-stating the case. Without the women's puberty ceremony for the next Chief there would have been serious repercussions. The possibility of the dam builders' plan to continue on with a project which would devastate us a second time, this time drowning the sacred places which survived the initial construction, looms over us and makes it even more critical to have Balas Chonos for Marisa, our next leader. If they are allowed to build Shasta Lake Dam higher, this is the last women's puberty ceremony and must be accomplished. Women are the web which holds the tribe. Without the traditions, ceremonies, the sacred places, the Winnemem will not be able to carry on as Winnemem. We are in serious times and our next young Chief who will someday succeed Caleen and Florence Jones before her must be as strong as she can be. The Chief may have to use the funds to secure the ceremonial grounds one more time due to the fact it falls on a popular money making holiday.

Or the Chief may still choose to use the Wild Salmon Run funds to bring at least one Maori representative to be witness at Balas Chonos and help insure safety and peace rather than to secure the area for the ceremony. Then that one representative will be with the Winnemem as they work to press forward their salmon proposal to tribal allies or other allies. So many needs.

Check out with Karen Smoot speaking. Oregon was represented! WSGO, CAER, Earth First, Occupy, CLDC, Klamath, Grand Ronde, Wasco, and individuals who just heard about it, allies from Olympia through Portland down to Ashland, we were there. Oregonians provided the lawyer, the climbers, the trainers for the blockade along with River Keepers of CA. Oregonians worked hard in the kitchen -- which I call the REAL Cross Cultural Workshop 101. Oregonians staffed the information and welcome table at the entrance which was coordinated to Ruth Koenig, Winnemem's representative. She has many stories to share about that! It was both enjoyable to welcome everyone, and stressful dealing with press and Forest Service rangers who came to count numbers or intimidate, but some were touched by that Ruth Koenig faith in humanity and couldn't help . . . well, being human. Oregonians turned the boats around respectfully out in kayaks, rafts, river boats. And Oregonians all felt changed by the experience. One doesn't really know the Winnemem until they come to visit and be hosted on their sacred lands. More from Eugene have now experienced what Winnemem and who Winnemem truly are.

There were 210 of us at the ceremony. When the Sheriff first flew helicopter above and the first time the Forest Service canine vehicle and second four wheel drive cased us out there were about 30 people, but each day the numbers grew. We learned a lot. We trained. We demonstrated to ourselves and disbelievers that closing the river was do-able. Little five year old Daysean, big snapping dark eyes, long braids was just getting out of his raft with his brother and cousin. I said, "I saw you turn some boats away! "

/He nodded his head with a big broad smile.

"What did they say? What did you say?" I was curious.

/He stared back trying to think about it and said, "I forgot." just as I realized, of course! He's five. His brother's about 9. They probably just paddled up to the motor boat looking innocent, cute, and sincere and the boaters remembered, "oh, it's that ceremony thing" and turned their boats around smiling at the cuteness of these sincere brave children. How can Daysean know why they turned their boats. They just did it, everytime he rowed up, cheeks red with the effort of rowing his little lime green and purple blow up boat his Auntie Caleen brought back from Eugene's Good Will out on 11th Street, and looked up at them with a smile. How could he know he did it by just being Daysean.

We now have an idea of whom we are facing -- and it is not a Forest Service who wants to accommodate a safe and peaceful ceremony and respect our traditions and the young women of the tribe. They are still measuring public opinion, how strong is the support for the Winnemem tribe. So please, keep trying to reach Randy Moore's ears and heart. Keep sending in resolutions from your tribes and organizations. Keep emailing him. Check out the website on how to help. Share the videos and stories we put up. Let me know if I can help with this effort by supplying templates and so forth. And donations are really needed. Donations are always welcome in this summer of three ceremonies, and having to pay for our ceremonial grounds. And we still want to bring six Maori partners to help push our salmon plan during the week following Balas Chonos.Please join us if you can for the June 30 - July 3 ceremony at the McCloud. More info to follow on the Winnemem website.

The Chief asked everyone to spread the word and bring the people you trust. I'm putting this out there in the hopes that some of you will join us June 30 - July 3, arriving on the 29th if you can. Go to the website and Marc Dadigan will let you know important info -- what to bring, what's the weather, donation food list, sacred color days -- meaning we wear a different colored t-shirt each day at these events so we can see each other being so spread out. So, June 30 is yellow, July 1 is red, July 2 is black and July 3 is white.

It might be a good WSGO project to sell tees in those colors at Puberty -- especially yellow and red. Not everyone have those colors. If there's a push for that, it might be something we do since thanks to the US FS, the Chief and the dancers may not be able to make it June 16 for a dinner fundraiser.

Chief Caleen Sisk told us that behind each war dancer were a hundred war dancers. Behind her was 100 Winnemem chiefs. That is what helps the tribe carry on. During this time in their history she has been told by those ancestor spirits to tell the world and the good people of the world will listen. She has put out the call. Your presence as witnesses or as boaters closing the river will influence history and will help this tribe continue.

The Winnemem are like the salmon they feel responsible to speak for, and the sacred lands they protect -- mighty but without those who care whether they exist or not will not stay. We live in those times. We have to say something if we want water, if we want salmon to exist in the rivers, if we want Winnemem to sing to the waters and dance to bring the salmon home.

Again thank you for your Oregon support! Caleen really appreciates her Oregon allies. Misa

1 comment:

  1. Hi Misa,
    thanks for the generous report. Hey! I don't have a yellow or red t-shirt. Let me know if you decide to make those available! I'd much rather buy one from a fundraiser than anywhere else. :)
    See you soon,
    Tree Knowlton


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

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . 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.