Winnemem Wintu Tribe Office of Historic Preservation

Winnemem Wintu Tribe Office of Historic Preservation preserves and protects the Tribe's traditional cultural properties and natural resources from harm, defends our natural world from exploitation and perpetuates the Tribe's cultural lifeways for the benefit of future generations and all our relations. Our work is informed by our stories, strengthened by our traditions, and guided by our relationships with our seen and unseen world.

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Address: PO Box 774
Mount Shasta, CA 96067
County: Shasta
Phone Number: 530-926-4408
Winnemem Wintu means "middle water people." We are a salmon people and water protectors and a State Recognized California Historic Tribe, living on our traditional aboriginal lands that range from the top of Mount Shasta, south to the Central Valley within the McCloud, Upper Sacramento and Lower Pit River watersheds. 40 to 60% of all water that the entire State of California depends on originates from these upper regions. Our stories and songs guide us to care for Buliyum Puyuk (Mount Shasta), care for our sacred sites and cold water rivers and streams above and below the ground, follow the Sacred, speak for our Endangered Winter Run Chinook Salmon and dance them back home to the McCloud River above the Shasta Dam. Water is Life!

We are not a casino tribe. The Tribe does not receive any government health, education or housing benefits. The Tribe currently has no paid staff.

We use historic preservation law, environmental law and traditional ecological knowledge to engage and negotiate with government agencies, NGO's, private and public corporations and community groups to give notice, advise and possibly amend and improve projects that affect our traditional cultural resources. Our goal is to resolve adverse effects to the land, water and air. We collaborate and/or confront for the wellbeing and the benefit of all life. As a last resort the Tribe will use the court system as a tool to ensure that the intent and letter of manmade law and the laws of the natural world are respected and followed.

CRYSTAL GEYSER AB52/CEQA LITIGATION - Our Current And Highest Priority For Funding

The Crystal Geyser Water Co (CG) is setting their up their water extraction business on Mount Shasta to mine unlimited amounts of groundwater from the Mountain and the County of Siskiyou (County) refuses to impose extraction limits. The County has also denied the Tribe's rights to the required AB52 Consultation, a new amendment to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), by arbitrarily terminating the consultation with the Tribe before certifying the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the CG Project.

AB52 acknowledges tribal cultural values, defines Tribal Cultural Resources (TCRs) and mandates that TCRs must be studied in CEQA review the same as other natural resources such as water and air quality.

This CG litigation is currently the highest priority funding need for the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP). The Tribe has hired the Indian law firm of Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan LLP, who authored the text of AB52, to prosecute the AB52 cause of action in our case. AB52 became effective in 2016 and has no case law. Our case has the real possibility of creating legal reality for indigenous values, strengthening and establishing case law for AB52 that will benefit all California Indian tribes. Besides adding a potent and independent tool that can be used by tribes in the defense of cultural resources, AB52 can also protect natural resources important to all communities.

The CG water bottling plant would damage or destroy WWT TCRs; contaminate the Big Springs aquifer with industrial waste; adversely affect neighboring domestic wells; create air, noise and light pollution; and increase truck traffic and road damage for the City of Mount Shasta. The Tribe has filed joint petitions with the community group We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review, one against the County of Siskiyou for certifying the deficient EIR and the other against the City of Mount Shasta for using that EIR to justify issuing a wastewater permit to Crystal Geyser.


Some Other Current Issues And Projects Handled By The WWT OHP:

Antlers Bridge Replacement Project - Monitor, consult and develop final mitigation plans with Shasta Trinity National Forest (STNF) and Caltrans for damaging a historic WW village site at the Antlers Bridge. Mitigation includes development and establishment of the Winnemem Wintu Cultural Interpretive Site.

Federal Lawsuit Against USFS - Mediation and settlement of a 9 year lawsuit against USFS re damages to WWT historic, ceremonial and sacred sites.

Shasta Dam Fish Passage Evaluation Project - As part of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 review and planning process for the return of our listed McCloud River Endangered Winter Run Chinook Salmon to their home above Shasta Dam we are developing a National Register eligible WWT Cultural Landscape for the Bureau of Reclamation.

Ongoing National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 and California Environmental Quality Act AB52 Reviews - USFS and State agencies propose numerous projects each year that may impact WWT sites and require review and consultation by the Tribe.

Consultation With Agencies At The Daily Hirz And Delta Fire Cooperator Meetings - OHP participated as WW Tribal Representatives for protection of cultural resources at the Incident Command Cooperators Meetings regarding 2 forest fires that burned for several weeks through WWT traditional territory.

California Pubic Utilities Commission (CPUC) - Testified in hearings regarding the proposed Lassen Substation planned to accommodate the corporate electrical needs of the Crystal Geyser Water Bottling Plant. Although required by law, CPUC has failed to conduct AB52 consultation with the Tribe and the environmental review is deficient.

Shasta Dam Raise - The 1938-1945 construction of Shasta Dam flooded the heart of the Winnemem nation and devastated the people, drowning historic villages, sacred and ceremonial sites and forcing hundreds of Winnemem into a homeless life on the streets of Redding. Compensation required by Congressional act never reached the Tribe. Now, as a boondoggle project that will benefit corporate Central Valley farmers and Southern California municipalities at taxpayer expense, BOR plans to raise Shasta Dam another 18 ½ feet. The raise would flood some of the few remaining WWT ceremonial and sacred sites as well as further compromise the ecosystem of the lower Sacramento River, all while declaring without real world justification that the raise will "benefit" listed Central Valley Chinook Salmon. WWT has and will continue to participate in the long and complicated EIS and Section 106 Processes and publicly shine light on this huge corporate welfare project.

We are grateful for this opportunity to tell our story. We celebrate a world of diverse relatives. Our stories and traditions teach us how to be good caring people. May we always see the good things in life! Thank you.
October 10, 2018
Protection of the Mount Shasta Watershed, and especially the headwaters of the Sacramento River has been a priority of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe for literally thousands of years. Those of us working on these important issues follow their lead and their example of enlightened stewardship.

Since October 2013 I have been working closely on local water privatization and water bottling issues with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk and Tribal members led the first local Mount Shasta Water Flows Free event ~Water Every Drop Sacred~ at City Park, the Headwaters of the Sacramento River in 2015. Since then we have collaborated on protecting the Mount Shasta watershed, challenging the lack of proper environmental review of the Crystal Geyser Water Co project in Mt. Shasta.

My group, Water Flows Free, will continue to support the excellent ongoing work of the Tribe and WATER (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) in their legal challenges of both the City of Mt. Shasta and Siskiyou County using a new California CEQA amendment, AB52, that recognizes tribal resources and acknowledges tribal values. Additionally, our activist groups in Weed, Water for Citizens of Weed CA (WCWC) and Weed Area Water Alliance (WAWA) have worked with the Tribe. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe were featured in a UK documentary addressing efforts in Weed concerning environmental review and the protection of the Beaughan Springs Weed municipal water supply from privatization threats. The Tribe has always played a key role in water protection, working with many local environmental groups. Water protection requires people working together who see the big picture, who are patient and who share the same vision of water as a public trust and a human right. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe always presents this vision, speaking from the heart, striving to educate the public and our local representatives about water issues. They have taken the lead in this most important effort and it is a pleasure to recommend them for your support.

Vicki Gold
Mt. Shasta CA

October 10, 2018
Trout Unlimited has been involved with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe for over five years as members of the local Regional Water Management Group, which is sanctioned by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

During our time working together I've come to know Tribe members as conscientious and professional advocates for environmental protection and restoration. We worked together to develop a groundwater elevation monitoring program that was funded by the DWR and several Tribe members staffed the project to bring it to a successful completion. I found them to be engaged and knowledgeable partners whose efforts greatly enhanced our project.

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is a valued partner in local environmental efforts. Their connection to the land and unique perspective is invaluable to ongoing efforts at environmental protection and restoration.

Robert Blankenship, B.A.
Chapter President
South Coast Chapter
Trout Unlimited

The Board of W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) is writing this reference letter in support of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their Office of Historic Preservation's efforts to protect the ground waters and springs of Mount Shasta and the Sacramento River from exploitation and degradation by the proposed Crystal Geyser water bottling plant at the base of Mount Shasta. We also support their plans to restore their listed McCloud River Winter Run Chinook Salmon.

The Winnemem have deep insight into the region, as it has been their traditional aboriginal lands for thousands of years and their long kinship with this region's waters needs to be respected and honored. However, the AB52 consultation with the Tribe required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Crystal Geyser Mt. Shasta Project, was unlawfully and prematurely terminated by Siskiyou County. Although CG advertises that they are bottling the historic Tribe's "sacred spring water," the County refuses to re-open the consultation with the Winnemem. The Tribe has been adamant in standing up as the indigenous people of this land for their rights under AB52 to continue and finish the County's required consultation with them and to be considered in all decisions pertaining to the Crystal Geyser project. We stand with them in their efforts to protect Mount Shasta's groundwater and springs and be fully heard and recognized via the AB52 consultation and in the CEQA process.

The Tribe is also ardently working to restore the regional ecological balance lost from the construction of the Shasta Dam, which stopped the natural flows of the Sacramento, McCloud and Pit Rivers. The fulfillment of the Tribe's vision to restore their Endangered Winter Run Chinook salmon to the upper reaches of the McCloud and Sacramento Rivers from native salmon stock fortuitously surviving in New Zealand will be an incredible example demonstrating what heights are possible as we face the looming climate crisis.

We feel fortunate to be allied with the Tribe in our mutual goal to protect the life-sustaining waters flowing from the volcano known as Mt. Shasta. Our collaboration as co-petitioners against Siskiyou County and Crystal Geyser Water Company has created a strong stance to advance our shared position.

The Winnemem Wintu, in teaming up to protect our water resources, have honored us at W.A.T.E.R.

Bruce Hillman, President
Frank Toriello, Vice- President
Roslyn McCoy, Treasurer
Geneva Omann, Secretary
Raven Stevens, Board Member
Dan Axelrod, Board Member