Monday, April 16, 2012

Disrespect for Womens coming of age ceremony in California

Winnemem Tribe Demands Forest Service Respects Native Women's Rights P R E S S R E L E A S E* **Winnemem Wintu Tribe** ** **For Immediate Release: April 16, 2012** * *For more information:*Caleen Sisk, Tribal Chief: 530-710-4817James Ward, media relations: 530-638-5580 *WINNEMEM TRIBE DEMANDS FOREST SERVICE RESPECT**NATIVE WOMEN’S RIGHTS** **• Agency Refuses to Provide Closure of McCloud River Necessary for Girls’Traditional Coming of Age Ceremony**• Winnemem Women and Chief Demand Face-to-Face Meeting With RegionalForester at Vallejo Headquarters** • Winnemem Men and Supporters Picket with Signs** ** **EDITORS NOTE*: Tribal leaders will address the press directly at 11 am onthe front steps of the U.S. Forest Service office located at 1323 ClubDrive, Vallejo, CA 94592 *Vallejo, CA* – Today members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe *willchallenge *U.S.F.S.Regional Forester Randy Moore at his Vallejo office on the issue ofprotecting Indigenous Women from racial slurs and physical harm duringtheir coming of age ceremonies. The Tribe is demanding that the *Shasta-TrinityNational Forest* provide a* four*-day *mandatory* closure of a quarter milestretch of the McCloud River during a coming of age ceremony for a teenagegirl, which is planned for late June. The Tribe's past two Coming of AgeCeremonies have been disrupted by racial slurs, alcohol use, and indecentexposure from passersby in motorboats who refused to honor a voluntaryclosure. These boaters also endanger the physical safety of young tribalmembers who swim across the river as part of the ceremony. Winnemem tribal members and their supporters will picket the Forest Serviceoffice while tribal women seek a face-to-face audience with the RegionalForester*. Tribal members will form picket Line at 9 a.m. Winnemem TribalChief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk will hold a press conference at 11am to discuss the Tribe’s demands and the outcome of the meeting with Mr.Moore.* “Since 1941 most of our ceremonial sites have been *buried* beneath thestill waters of Lake Shasta,” according to Chief Sisk. “We ask that theForest Service grant us this one small dignity by allowing our girls toenter womanhood in privacy at one of our last remaining traditionalceremonial sites.” The Tribe has requested for the past several years that the Forest Serviceclose this stretch of river during their Coming of Age Ceremonies, which isheld in an area accessible on Lake Shasta by boat. Although the ForestService has issued “voluntary closures,” which discourage most boaters fromentering the area, several times during each ceremony groups of individualspowered into the ceremonial area, often with beers in hand and musicblaring as they verbally insulted members of the Tribe. During a Coming ofAge Ceremony in 2006, an individual “flashed” the ceremonial participantswith naked breasts and yelled racist insults. “If someone did this during Mass, they would be arrested,” says Sisk, whonotes that there were no authorities present to cite the individual forpublic indecency. A mandatory closure was issued later at this sameceremony by the Shasta County Sheriff after a Forest Service DistrictRanger's kayak was rammed by a boat. For the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, this is about respecting and protectingNative women while they pass on traditional ways to the next generations.According to Sisk, “Like many traditional people, we hold our women in highregard. This beautiful ceremony is vital to our girls' transitioning towomanhood with confidence, grace and knowledge. We must hold this ceremonyfor our tribe to survive." *# # #* Learn more about the Winnemem Wintu at Learn more about the ceremony at Download Video of motorboats speeding past ceremony and flashing theparticipants at:

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