"For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children's future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it." - Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
The Winnemem Wintu (Middle Water People) Tribe is indigenous to Northern California. They are intimately connected to the McCloud River, Bulyum Puyuk (Mount Shasta), and the surrounding meadows. The Winter-Run Chinook Salmon are sacred to the Winnemem Wintu people. They believe when the Creator put them on the Earth they had no voice, their Salmon relatives gave up their voices to the Winnemem Wintu people.
Now the Chinook Salmon are on the verge of extinction. The Winnemem Wintu people have an ancient prophecy, “When there are no more salmon, there will be no more Winnemem Wintu people.”
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, salmon eggs were taken from the McCloud River to populate the rivers in other parts of the world.
The Winnemem Wintu preformed a War Dance at the Shasta dam in 2004 and made news around the world. A New Zealand professor contacted them saying, “We have your fish, do you want them back?” The Chinook Salmon eggs had been taken to Aotearoa (New Zealand) back in late 1800s and early 1900s had survived in the glacier-fed rivers and exist there in healthy numbers.
After meeting with the Maori people of the South Island, the Ngai Tahu Tribe, the Winnemem Wintu are raising money to travel back to New Zealand with their tribal youth to collect samples for DNA testing to prove to the U.S. government that the New Zealand salmon are indeed the McCloud river fish so they can restore the fish to their river.
Not only am I a descendant of the Ngai Tahu people but I also belong to their sister tribe Ngati Porou as both our tribes are descendants of Paikea. And as a resident of California, I want to help the Winnemem Wintu people with their salmon restoration project.
I want my son to know that indigenous people matter and that too often are our communities’ needs, ideas, and beliefs overlooked and disrespected. I want him to grow up not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.
This is why we made “Bring Our Salmon Home” signs together as a family and also why
I am going to donate 10% of all of my sales this week
from my shop Lularoe Ana Aiono Dowden to the Winnemem Wintu Salmon Restoration Project.
You can also donate to the Salmon Restoration Project through their GoFundMe site.
1. be strong, get stuck in, keep going.
"Kia Kaha!" is a Maori phrase that means "Be Strong!"
In my family, we often say it to one another when someone is in need of strength or is having a hard time, or to encourage each other.
It is also the middle name of my nephew,
Kingston Kia Kaha Aiono.
Kingston was diagnosed with XLP and passed away in 2007, a few months before his third birthday.
Yesterday would have been his 13th birthday.
After his passing, I had Kingston's full name tattooed on my wrists and hands. They remind me of how blessed I was to be his Aunty. To never take life for granted. And to always cherish those close to you. Kingston will forever be in my heart. He was a gentle warrior who honored and changed our family for the better with his presence.
For more information about XLP or to Donate to others with XLP please visit:
FRIENDS OF KINGSTON
"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish"
- Michelle Obama
"Women are the real architects of society."
Happy International Women's Day!
TO all of the Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Aunties, Nieces, Grandmothers, and Friends...you are beautiful in every way. Your calling of womanhood is divine and essential to life. Always remember that you are of infinite worth and have a great capacity for goodness.
"We can now see that there’s a generation, foretold as the Seventh Generation, that will fight to restore the balance of good in the world against that would destroy us and those to come in the future."
On January 24, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order clearing the way for the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed through lands held as sacred by the
Standing Rock Sioux.
Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have been going on since the project was approved back in July of last year, uniting the seven subtribes of the
Sioux Nation, known as the Seven Council Fires, for the first time since the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. It has also become a historic rallying point for indigenous peoples all over the world and has sparked the largest gathering of Native American tribes in history.
The Lakota have two prophecies that seem to be coming to pass. The first that a "Black Snake" would come to America with the power to destroy the world, or unify it. And second, "According to Crazy Horse, a revered mid-19th century Oglala Lakota chief who led tribes to victory at Little Bighorn, the Lakota people would undergo generations of spiritual genocide and environmental degradation following American colonization of the West. Then, a seventh generation would wake up and rise — a generation that would lead the healing and restoration of the planet, rejuvenate a forgotten spirituality, and create harmony among people of all colors and creeds."
These Water Protectors belong to different organizations and may have different reasons for being there - indigenous rights, civil rights, environmental awareness - but they are united in the cause to prevent the pipeline from crossing the Missouri River just miles away from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. They are brave protectors who have endured horrific human rights violations at the hands of the local law enforcement of the area.
My reasons for supporting the Water Protectors have more to do with protecting the rights, lands, and cultures of indigenous peoples. I believe that the United States should honor their treaties with the various Native American tribes and start addressing the problems of the most marginalized group of people in the U.S.
As a woman of Maori descent, I sympathize with the loss of lands and culture that the indigenous people of this land have faced. My Great-Great-Great Grandfather,
Piripi Te-Maari-o-te-rangi, was also a water protector and "was consistently concerned that Maori landowners should lose none of their rights. This concern led him into the great battle of his life, the struggle to prevent settler encroachment on the rights and lands of the owners of the two Wairarapa lakes." I am proud to be descended from this brave Water Protector and also so proud of my niece Kaitlyn for traveling to Standing Rock with supplies last November and continuing this legacy.
Even though I am unable to travel to Standing Rock and be on the front lines, there are other ways to contribute to the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. #NODAPL
YOU CAN :
DONATE TO THE SACRED STONE CAMP FUND OR LEGAL FUND
10 WAYS TO HELP THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX
"There are many battles being fought right now: Standing Rock serves as a flame now burning brightly, now dimming, waiting for the people to come back to it and give back the fire within our hearts so that it will burn brightly once more."