This project advances community resilience of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Indigenous to Northern California, the Winnemem Wintu have lived in the Winnemem—McCloud River watershed—from Mt. Shasta southward, for more than 6,000 years.
When people do not maintain their ceremonial responsibilities, water and fire do not stay where they belong. We are living in a time of devastating drought and mega-fires. For several years, in response to spiritual knowledge and signs from nature, the Winnemem Wintu have practiced Fire and Water ceremonies.
Tribal members have also worked to become trained firefighters, practicing Indigenous fire management and receiving state certifications so they are able to monitor cultural sites in fire’s path.
In September 2021, wildfire burned to the doorsteps of the Winnemem village. The land was scorched, but the homes, structures and big oak trees are still standing. Our ability to manage fire benefits our neighbors and people across California. The rekindling of Indigenous fire practice supports the traditional life of the Tribe, and is a tribal responsibility.
Under the leadership of Chief Caleen Sisk (recipient of the 2015 Wisdom Treasure Award), Indian Cultural Organization prioritizes youth and Elder participation in traditional and innovative advocacy for native species, waters, and homelands.