Grassroots River Closure, Coordinated Boater Harassment Highlight Winnemem Wintu’s War Dance
By Marc Dadigan
“Voluntary closures” in the 2006 and 2010 ceremonies led to the tribe being harassed by recreational boaters.
Feeling they had run out of options to get the river closure, the Winnemem Wintu held a War Dance May 24–27 at the Coming of Age Ceremony site where tribal activists, environmental justice activists and Occupy movement members helped the tribe enforce their own closure.
Unfortunately, the euphoria from the closure quickly gave way to actions that have marred previous ceremonies at the site.
On May 27, just as the tribe was about to complete their final dance of the ceremony, a fleet of seven motor boats and three jet skies motored back and forth through the ceremony site at speeds greater than the 5 mph speed limit, flipped off tribal members, stared down young women holding infants and did doughnuts near the tribe’s sacred sites.
“It was pretty much about as racist as you can get without going to jail or being violent,” said 25-year-old Winnemem War Dancer Arron Sisk.
For more on Native religion, see Sacred White Buffalo Killed and Skinned, Eagle Killing Divides Tribes, and Christian Flyer Calls Lakota Rite "Satanic."
Below: "During the Winnemem Wintu's War Dance May 26, Supporters and activists from the Klamath Justice Coalition, American Indian Movement, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Eugene, Earth First! and members of numerous tribes temporarily enforced their own closure of the McCloud River in preparation for the Winnemem's Coming of Age ceremony next month where they intend to close the river to protect the ceremony from aggressive and abusive boaters." (Marc Dadigan)