The Winnemem Wintu Tribe are not a federally recognized tribe (see here. This makes this an even more interesting case than it already is. Without a federally recognized tribal government, what defines “tribe?” To me, the fact that this tribe can muster a war dance in defense of their indigenous rituals proves their tribe’s existence, whatever the feds think. More about the May 24-27th planned War Dance at Censored News.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe is planning to hold a war dance that includes blockading a section of Lake Shasta on Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest weekends for tourism on the lake.
The war dance is in response to the U.S. Forest Service’s refusal to close down a section of the lake so it can hold a coming-of-age ceremony for teenage girls in the tribe. The forest service has not granted the tribe’s request this year.
“We have been backed into a corner with no other choice,” said Caleen Sisk, the Winnemem’s spiritual leader and chief. “But instead we have to fight simply to protect our young women from drunken harassment.”
Sisk said the tribe is expecting about 400 people to attend the war dance at the McCloud Bridge Campground. On Thursday the tribe will start a sacred fire and have an opening dance, according to a news release from the tribe. On Friday, a 400-yard section of the lake will be blockaded to prevent boats from coming through an area area of the upper McCloud River arm.
“We hope the blockade will let the Forest Service know that boats don’t belong in the ceremony and that we will do it ourselves if they won’t take the appropriate measures to protect our young women’s ceremonies,” Sisk said.
The tribe has paid for camping areas, but did not receive a permit from the forest service to conduct the ceremony or close down a section of the lake, Sisk said. The tribe’s website says there could be arrests.
“Though we are simply holding a ceremony that has existed since before the forest service, it will be considered by the authorities as an act of civil ‘disobedience.’ Please prepare as needed and remember this is a non-violent, ceremonial action,” the website says.