Winnemem Wintu tribe

Below are some links for the Winnemem Wintu tribe and the plan to raise Shasta Dam.

It’s another scandalous story. 14,000 Winnemem Wintus were living along the McCloud River before Europeans arrived in the area. Early on, many were wiped out by epidemics spread by trappers. Gold was discovered in Shasta Co. in 1848, and more were killed, died of disease, or were pushed off their land. Eventually they were allotted 160 acres along the McCloud. By 1900, fewer than 400 Wintus were left. In the late 30s the gov began retaking allotments to remove Winnemem from the river so they could build Shasta Dam. Shasta Dam was finished in 1944, creating Shasta Lake and flooding much of the Winnemem’s ancestral villages, burial sites, etc. The government had promised to compensate them with land, which never happened.

Sometime in the 1980s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated the Winnemem’s federal tribal status–BIA health services, grants for education, etc. etc. were all stopped. Members of the tribe have petitioned, testified in Congress, held hunger strikes, and protests to try to regain tribal status, so far without success. Why is it up to the BIA to decide this? There’s only 140 of them left.

In 2000 CalFed (coalition of state/federal/aggie/environmental grps etc.) made a plan to enlarge water storage in the Bay Delta by raising the height of Shasta Dam 6 to 18 feet–enough to flood most remaining Winnemem Wintu cultural sites. Feinstein has pushed for it, but there’s been enough opposition to delay things up til now. But with this year’s drought and increasing population, there’ll be a lot of pressure. The bottom link is a Feb. 2007 article from the Redding Record Searchlight which describes the various interests involved.