The Winnemem Wintu tribe take matters into their own hands

In order to defend their right to preserve their way of life, the Winnemem Wintu tribe had been calling on allies to join them in securing a section of the McCloud River so they can perform the Coming of Age Ceremony for their next chief, Marissa, in peace.

Traditionally, girls swim across the river to symbolize leaving childhood and joining the women on the other side. In the past, this ceremony has been interrupted by drunken boaters speeding by, hurling racial slurs and flashing them.

For six years the Winnemem Wintu hadve been trying to work with the Forest Service to get a closure on the 400 yard, dead-end section of the river they need in order perform the ceremony free from harassment. The Forest Service has hid behind bureaucratic process and largely ignored the tribe’s requests to close the area.

Under the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights the tribe has a right to ceremony. Therefore, the tribe planned to close the river themselves so that this ceremony, crucial for the survival of the tribe, can continue.

A fantastic win!

As of June 26, 2012, the US Forest Service has agreed to completely close the McCloud River for the 4 day ceremony!

Read more about this victory!

Learn about the May 2012 War Dance for Safe Coming of Age Ceremony

The Winnemem Wintu held a successful War Dance for the peaceful Coming of Age ceremony. Hundreds of volunteers helped temporarily close the 400 yards of the McCloud river. Learn more!

Photos & Videos


Videos of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Boats Close River

Media Coverage

Winnemem Wintu Tribe Stages War Dance as Protest
San Francisco Chronicle

Winnemem Wintu Tribe Fights for Use of McCloud Arm