War Dance of the Winnemem Wintu

Presented May 11, 2009 (Wed) nation-wide and internationally! Click here to listen on your local public radio station or to download a podcast.

With DataCenter support, our youth intern Michael Preston, a young emerging leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California, along with our research intern Rachel Gelfand worked closely with one of National Radio Project’s own star producers Andrew Stelzer to produce a very powerful radio documentary: War Dance of the Winnemem Wintu. Preston presents the story of his tribe and their struggle to prevent the flooding of the sacred land and native ecology they have called home for centuries. The Winnemem evoked the ceremonial War Dance to protect their sacred sites, burial grounds, and historical village sites from further destruction in 1887, 2004 and again in 2009.

wintu_women_smThe radio project arose from the DataCenter-Winnemem Wintu Sacred Sites Oral Documentation Project, for which Mike and Rachel had conducted a series of interviews with the tribal members. The Winnemem Wintu-DataCenter partnership was launched to strengthen the capacity of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to effectively apply culturally-based systems of knowledge in conjunction with outside information and research methods in order to protect the environmental, spiritual, cultural and economic integrity of their lands and people. Specifically, the project will probe the tribe’s ecological, cultural and spiritual perspectives and attempt to assess the potential impact of the California water policy concerning the Mt. Shasta watershed on the members of the Tribe, as well as to the living diversity of a peoples and a unique ecological landscape of the McCloud River region of California they call home. Data from the Project will also be used to support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s efforts to preserve their sacred lands, their historical knowledge of those sites, and sustain their culture.

Lend your support to the Winnemen Wintu Tribe and their critical struggle for cultural sovereignty and right to their traditional ways of life as they see fit – and to realize the long overdue opportunity for the US Government to repair its mistakes and errors of the past, once and for all!

Making Contact, “An international radio program that links people, vital ideas, and important information,” is produced by National Radio Project, is an award-winning, 29-minute weekly magazine/documentary-style public affairs program heard on over 200 radio stations in the USA, Canada, South Africa and Ireland.

To get the Winnemem Wintu story broadcast on your public radio station, please inquire with Lisa @ 510-251-1332 ext 105 or lrudman@radioproject.org.

CalleenThis experience has proven to be a powerful model of research support organization – media organization – community partnership, that we feel has a powerful potential in elevating the community voices to shift values, public debate, and influence the larger sociopolitical climate in which policy decisions are made – all the while honoring the traditional method of community knowledge production and transfer: oral history and storytelling. Please contact miho if you’re interested in learning more about this partnership or have any questions!

Data Center’s participation in this radio project was funded in part by the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation

photos by permission of Christopher McCleod

miho kim is DC’s Indigenous Knowledge Project point person