• Petitioned Ryan Harvey

This petition was delivered to:

U.S. Forest Service Special Agent, Law Enforcement Unit
Ryan Harvey
U.S. Forest Service Supervisor
J. Sharon Heywood
Shasta County Sheriff
Tom Bosenko
District Ranger
Kristy Cottini
Shasta County Sheriff Boating Safety Unit
Captain David Dean
Regional Forester
Randy Moore
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Barbara Boxer

Allow Our Tribe to Hold a Sacred Ceremony in Peace and Privacy

    1. Petition by

      Winnemem Wintu

Each year our tribe holds a Bałas Chonas, or Coming of Age ceremony, near our sacred Puberty Rock along the McCloud River in Northern California.

The sanctity of the two previous Ceremonies have been marred when powerboaters ignored a "voluntary closure" and entered the Ceremony site, some shouting racist and threatening remarks at the Tribe. They called us “fat Indians”, chugged alcoholic drinks in our sacred space, and even flashed us (see a video of the hecklers here).

How would you react if a band of motorcyclists barreled through your daughter’s christening?

This July we are holding a Coming of Age Ceremony for their next young chief, Marisa, and asking local and federal agencies to close a small 300-yard stretch of the river to allow us to transition our next chief to womanhood in peace and privacy.

What is most infuriating is that federal and local officials refuse to protect our religious freedom by closing the river to outsiders during the ceremony. They have the power and authority to provide us the privacy and sanctity we require. They simply lack the will to do what’s right.

The U.S. Forest Service now oversees the ceremonial grounds, a traditional Winnemem village site, and runs it as a campground. But they are dismissive, disrespectful and completely unwilling to acknowledge our special connection to these lands.

This is about religious freedom, but it also about our ability to exist as a traditional culture.

Until our river is closed, we will be delivering our young women from the water’s womb into the middle of a spiritual war zone.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can give the authorities the will to respect our freedom to exercise our religion.

Please call on the U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore, Sheriff's Office, Representative Wally Herger and Senators Boxer and Feinstein to close the river for the ceremony.

After you sign the petition, contact at rmoore@fs.fed.us and 707-562-8737 to to let him know that ignoring us is unacceptable, and he should have the courage to implement a mandatory closure. 

Please keep your messages peaceful and respectful.  

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 4,000 signatures
    2. Winnemem use GPS to map sacred sites threatened by dam raise.

      The Winnemem already lost our lands to the original Shasta Dam. If it is raised, the site of our Coming of Age ceremony will be flooded permanently. It is not necessary; just as much water can be had by conserving just 5 percent of alfalfa farmers' irrigation water.

    3. Reached 3,000 signatures
    4. Winnemem Wintu Tribe Cancels Ceremony

      Fearing a sacred rite of passage will again be ruined by recreational boaters, the Winnemem Wintu tribe has canceled this year's Coming of Age ceremony.

    5. Reached 2 signatures
    6. The Winnemem Wintu are planning to dance for the Salmon at Sogorea Te next Saturday, June 11 around 3:00

    7. Winnemem Wintu to hold Salmon Dance at Glen Cove on June 5th

    8. Reached 2 signatures
    9. Winnemem leaders are feature in a BBC "Costing the Earth" radio documentary on California Water issues - "California Gasping".

    10. Winnemem Wintu Leader Speaks At Spiritual Encampment

    11. Reached 1 signatures
    12. Help Our Tribe Hold A Sacred Ceremony in Peace

      I was teaching my daughter to grind traditional medicines near our sacred Puberty Rock when the boaters intruded upon our ceremony site.
      Their beer-infused shouts echoed across the McCloud River canyon, and as they passed they called us “fat...

    13. Young Winnemem Wintu leader Marine Sisk-Franco writers in Indian Country today about how her eagle feather permit rejection felt "like a slap in the face" -

    14. Caleen Sisk-Franco, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, comments on Frankenfish Bill

    15. Listen: Christina Aanestad hosts a conversation about puberty rights for young women within the Winnemem-Wintu tribe in Northern California:

    16. Reached 1 signatures
    17. Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, testified about access to clean drinking water

    18. The Head Man of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of California appearing at Grassroots Environmental Justice Conference in Oregon

    19. Action needed to support Winnemem Wintu Tribe

    20. Fish and Wildlife Service denies an Indian her feathers

    21. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Laura Ann K Bernstein HARTSDALE, NY
      • about 2 years ago

      Equality does not exist if the ceremony is unfairly blocked ! We r a nation based! on equality so if it does not hurt anyone then there should be no reason to stop it Do I really have to remind u the Indians came first !! We stole their property and now u r ignoring their rights ! They could well have done that to us!! Laura Ann K Bernstein

    • Charity Anne Grenville GRANADA, SPAIN
      • over 2 years ago

      Religious freedom should apply to all religions and beliefs. Respect and tolerance towards religious ceremonies should be held towards all of them.

      Otherwise there can be no freedom in pursuing any religious, spiritual, agnostic or even atheist path.

    • Linda Jacobs CAMPBELL, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      The Winnemum Wintu tribe deserves to have their sacred places and their ceremonies protected from further disruption and disrespect from an ignorant society and an irresponsible government.

    • James McIntyre FERNANDINA BEACH, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      Because it's the right thing to do.

    • Jeminie Shell BUFFALO, WY
      • over 2 years ago

      Traditional ceremonies are part of the complex and critical work of keeping cultures alive. Our government has a responsibility to ensure and enforce the rights of these people to keep their culture vibrant and their ceremonies safe from harassment. My own freedoms and rights are tied to those of others in this country, and I demand that you take action to protect ALL our rights by protecting and enforcing those of the Winnemem Wintu.


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