"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.