Featured Image: thousands of acres of Pinyon-Juniper forest bulldozed by the BLM in Nevada / by Max Wilbert / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer for Harper’s, The New Republic, Vice, and many others. This video is an interview between him and Deep Green Resistance co-founder and author Derrick Jensen. They discuss Ketcham’s new book “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West.” It’s the product of ten years of research and travel across the public lands of the West.
On Ketcham’s website, he describes the cover of his book as follows:
As for the image under that vast Western sky of egg-shell blue, well it’s a bulldozer that pulls a naval anchor chain across a stretch of pinyon-juniper forest in Utah, tearing out the roots of the trees, laying waste to the ecosystem…so that money can be made for a privileged few who wear cowboy hats. One of the many examples of “land management” as practiced by the federal government. Multiply this scene by hundreds of millions of acres, imagine the various forms of “management” for the profit of the few, and you might get a sense of the scope of the ecological tragedy unfolding. This land is your land…or perhaps we should amend that to “was.” And the crazy part of it is that green groups who purport to be “environmentalists” are in fact abetting the destruction. Read my book to understand what’s really going on.
“Stand with me. Stand and fight. I am one, and we would be two. Two more might join and we would be four. When four more join we will be eight. We will be eight people fighting whom others will join. And then more people. And more. Stand and fight.” —Derrick Jensen
Deep Green Resistance is a radical environmental movement, dedicated to shifting activists towards strategies that have a real chance to stop the murder of the planet. Our allegiance is first and foremost to the land around us; we fight for the salmon, the pine trees, and the songbirds, not the solar panels and space shuttles so many ‘environmentalists’ have fallen in love with. We in DGR don’t want a more sustainable nightmare. We want a living world.
Deep Green Resistance recognizes that industrial civilization is incompatible with life on this planet – and when our way of living conflicts with the needs of the land, our way of living must go. This transition to a healthy and just relationship with the natural world is a massive undertaking, one that won’t be achieved with individual lifestyle changes and a green coat of paint on the latest mountain-killing mining rig. Real change will take a revolutionary heart. Anything less is a recipe for failure.
Deep Green Resistance has a roadmap for that revolution. We call it Decisive Ecological Warfare. We’ve studied the most successful movements in history, from the Irish Republicans to Mandela’s Umkhonto we Sizwe, and applied the lessons they can teach us to the fight for Earth liberation. Our goal as aboveground activists is to promote this strategic resistance, with the goal of triggering cascading systems failure within industrial infrastructure. In this mission, we are guided by a strict code of conduct, a steering committee of seasoned revolutionaries, and, most of all, an unwavering dedication to the land on which we live.
HOW CAN I HELP?
In the midst of all this destruction, it’s easy to feel hopeless. But there’s one nice thing about living in such dark times – anywhere you look, there’s great work to be done. Deep Green Resistance isn’t afraid to make the connections between open-pit mining and police brutality, between rape and deforestation, between acidified oceans and settler colonialism. We are proud anti-capitalists, anti-racists, and radical feminists, with members working on everything from pornography and prostitution to indigenous land rights and prison reform.
Whether on the front lines or behind the scenes, there is room for you in this war. So get in touch! We have members across the globe and resources in multiple languages. Head to our website, check our Facebook, or send us an email and introduce yourself. We’ll help you learn more about DGR, find opportunities for volunteering, and apply for greater involvement. You’ll also be able to download a free ebook copy of the Deep Green Resistance book.
DGR is working to create a life-centered resistance movement that will dismantle industrial civilization by any means necessary. In order to succeed, we’ll need teachers, healers, warriors, and workers. If you’re tired of the false solutions and the feel-good failures, Deep Green Resistance is for you, whatever your skills. In a fight like this, we need it all.
Remember: Deep Green Resistance is an aboveground organization, meaning we don’t engage in violence or property destruction. If you feel your talents would best be put to use in more militant actions, please do not contact us. This will keep you safer, and help us be more effective. We will not answer any questions related to any underground that may or may not exist.
“Our best hope will never lie in individual survivalism. Nor does it lie in small groups doing their best to prepare for the worst. Our best and only hope is a resistance movement that is willing to face the scale of the horrors, gather our forces, and fight like hell for all we hold dear.”
In the early morning hours before daybreak on May 2 in the fire-impacted conifer forest near Seiad Valley in the Klamath River watershed, 27 people including Tribal youth, river advocates and forest activists blocked the road leading to the Klamath National Forest’s Westside salvage logging project.
Demonstrators held banners that read ‘Karuk Land: Karuk Plan,’ recited call and response chants, and testified to the timber sales’ impact on ailing salmon populations. Work was delayed for approximately four hours, according to a news release from the river advocates.
The protesters said the Westside Salvage Logging Project would clear cut more than 5,700 acres on steep slopes above Klamath River tributaries and along 320 miles of roads within Klamath National Forest. Post-fire logging and hauling began in late April, before legal claims brought forth by a lawsuit led by the Karuk Tribe could be considered in court.
“The Forest Service should follow the Karuk Plan on Karuk Land. Traditional knowledge of fire helps everything stay in balance because it’s all intertwined,” said Dania Rose Colegrove of the Klamath Justice Coalition. “When you destroy the forests, you destroy the rivers.”
The protesters said the Westside plan, unlike the Karuk Alternative, calls for clear cut logging on steep slopes right above several of the Klamath River’s most important salmon-bearing streams, at a time when returning salmon numbers are reaching record lows.
Members of local Tribal youth councils who participated in the protest see Westside salvage logging as a threat to their future.
“Today I showed up and stood up for what is right for future generations,” said Lacey Jackson, a 16-year old Hoopa Tribal Youth Council member. “My cultural and traditional livelihood is being threatened, and the way they are going about this logging is a big part of that. I will continue to stand up for me, my people and future generations.”
River advocates say the Forest Service plan to clear-cut thousands of acres above the Klamath River disregards the reasonable Karuk Alternative and hurts at-risk salmon and river communities. They believe a healthy Klamath River requires sensible forest restoration that addresses the needs of both fish and people, like that laid out in the Karuk plan.
Federal and state fisheries agency scientists estimate that there are only approximately 142,200 Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon in the ocean this year, based on the returns of two-year-old salmon, called “jacks” and “jills.” The salmon from the Klamath and Sacramento River make up the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.
The low numbers of Klamath and Trinity River fish expected to return to the river and tributaries this year will result in more restricted seasons for both the recreational and commercial fisheries on the ocean and recreational and Tribal fisheries on the rivers this season.
During a meeting on Klamath dam removal in Sacramento in March, Thomas Wilson, a member of the Yurok Tribal Council and owner of Spey-Gee Point Guide Service, described the dire situation that the salmon fishery is in this year.
“This season will be devastating for fishermen and people on the river. Usually we get around 12,000 fish for subsistence on the river and what’s left goes to the commercial fishery. This year our entire Tribal quota is only about 5,900 fish,” he explained.
“The people are praying that the science predicting the low numbers is wrong. If we don’t protect the fish now, it will hurt us down the road. As Yuroks and natives, we are conservationists. We want make sure enough to keep seed for the all of the resources for future generations,” Wilson said.
The last thing that the watershed needs, at a time when the fishery is in crisis, is a Forest Service-approved clear cutting plan that further threatens salmon and steelhead habitat.
Imagine a time when you never once worried about losing your home or your means of making a living. Imagine your community used to be prosperous and well-run, providing everything you needed. You never gave a thought to giving back to it, though you always did and everyone else did, too. It hasn’t been this way for a long time—an invasion of thieves and murderers has taken all that away—but you remember what life was like.
The land is now impoverished by an unwelcome, occupying culture so self-important that they take everything without shame or even thought. These aliens have built their roads, power lines, and reservoirs all around you, siphoning every bit of your community’s resources for their own purposes. You have no recourse when an oil rig is set up in your town’s park, hospital, or swimming pool. You are helpless when they cut your watershed forest. There is nothing you can do about it, so you and your parents and your children and everyone else you know struggle on with no police to protect your health or property, no court to hear your grievance. You’d turn to your neighbors for help, but they’re in the same situation. The occupiers are everywhere, and they are all-powerful.
It’s not enough they’ve poisoned your water, built roads through your desert, and grazed their cattle across your range, stripping the grass from the ground which whips up into gritty brown curtains in the smallest wind. Many of your friends have been shot and left to rot in the street, but this doesn’t trouble the invaders; indeed, some of your children have been taken and kept in cages for their amusement. Now they want what’s left. They want everything, every inch of ground that once gave you all the wealth you ever wanted, all you could ever want.
In this dusty fragment that once was rich and whole, you barely get enough to eat and often feel ill because the water tastes of some sharp chemical. One day, engine noise comes from where no one has heard it before. Not along the ribbons of pavement where your kin are occasionally crushed to death, but in the last sad vestige of the flowering provident earth you’ve always loved. The machines come in packs. Aliens guide them over hills and through streams, muddying the water you and your children must drink. They roll over your friend’s house and you can hear them screaming inside, see their torn bodies, their bones stirred into the wreckage, smell their blood. You run away in pure bright panic as the machines veer insanely this way and that, destroying the neighborhood you grew up in. You might get away, but very likely you won’t. If you’re noticed at all, the end of your life will only be entertainment for the one who takes it.
This is what off road vehicles do.
Coyote Canyon and Other Sacrifices
Coyote Canyon is a small rocky tributary to Kane Springs Creek on Bureau of Land Management property just south of Moab, Utah. It recently became another off road vehicle (ORV) trail. Like many such trails, it began illegally when specialized, expensive ORVs called “rock crawlers” began using it without BLM authorization. ORV users prompted the BLM to write an Environmental Analysis to make the route official, and now Coyote Canyon is in the BLM’s words “an extreme trail specifically designated for rock crawler-type vehicles only. The route is one-way up a small canyon and down another, and although it is only 0.65 miles long can easily take all day to navigate as refrigerator-sized boulders must be traversed. Only HEAVILY modified vehicles can make it through. This route provides rock crawler enthusiasts an opportunity to challenge both their rigs and skills in a unique setting.”  One of the main reasons ORVers wanted the “unique setting” is that a roll-over accident, not uncommon to rock-crawlers, won’t pitch the vehicle and its occupants off a cliff.
The noise and disturbance of ORVs fragment habitat and push public-lands policies toward more development by turning vague routes into established roads. In some instances ORVs are exclusively to blame for the endangerment of a species—such as at Sand Mountain, Nevada, formerly “Singing Sand Mountain” until it was overrun by machines churning to dust the habitat of the Sand Mountain blue butterfly. The Center for Biological Diversity writes that the butterfly “is closely linked to Kearney buckwheat; larvae feed exclusively on the plant, and adult butterflies rely on its nectar as a primary food source. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed off-road vehicle use to destroy much of the Kearney buckwheat that once thrived on the dunes at Sand Mountain.” 
Land management agency inertia is easily the most immediate reason the ORVs have caused so much damage, since law enforcement is underfunded and policy-makers don’t make a priority of protecting the land and wildlife that’s entrusted to them. The Center for Biological Diversity had to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service to even get a response to a petition to list the Sand Mountain blue butterfly under the Endangered Species Act, and the agency’s response was that they wouldn’t do it. “Not warranted.” In this case (and others such as manatees being killed by speedboats), there aren’t even any jobs being held hostage. This is recreation and nothing more, taking ever more animals, plants, and habitat from the biological legacy of the planet.
Desert Iguana, Sonoran Desert
The Utah Wilderness Coalition had this to say about off road vehicles: “Most public lands are unprotected from ORVs in Utah. Roughly seventy-five percent, or 17 million acres out of 23 million acres, of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in Utah still lack any real protection (including designated routes, maps, trail signs, and other tools to ensure that these natural areas are protected) from ORV damage.
“Utah has over 100,000 miles of dirt roads, jeep trails, and old mining tracks. Driving all of these trails would be the equivalent of driving four times the circumference of the Earth.
“The BLM allows nearly uncontrolled ORV use in areas that have known but unrecorded archeological resources, putting these resources at risk from vandalism and unintentional damage. ORVs can cause damage to fragile desert soils, streams, vegetation, and wildlife. Impacts include churning of soils, distribution of non-native invasive plants, and increased erosion and runoff. Rare plant, wildlife, and fish species are at risk.
“ORV use is growing nationwide. In the past 30 years, the number of off-road vehicles in the United States has grown from 5 million to roughly 36 million ORVs. The BLM has fallen woefully behind in the management of these machines on public lands.” 
Image by Sierra Forest Legacy, http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/FC_FireForestEcology/TFH_OHV.php
“The Best Trails are Illegal”
Because illegal ORV use is so dispersed, it’s rare for underfunded and understaffed public lands law enforcement to catch anyone in the act. Usually what they see—what anyone sees—are the long-lasting impacts (tire ruts, crushed vegetation) and not the machines themselves. Without any evidence, there can’t be any enforcement. If you complain to the BLM or Forest Service about illegal trails, this is the response you can expect. If you can catch someone in the act, a license plate number—especially if you can photograph it—will be helpful, but there’s still the underlying issue of it not being all that illegal in the first place. A fine isn’t much of a deterrent, particularly when it’s extremely unlikely to happen at all.  The 30 million-odd ORVers in the US alone probably won’t ever be fined for illegal trails.
One reason why opposition to ORVs and the destruction they cause is so feeble and inadequate is because opponents are portrayed by ORV groups as wealthy elitists trying to corner access to common lands at their expense. This human-centered framing entirely discards other beings’ lives that depend on the land and water at stake.
Unfortunately, potential defenders seem to be disarmed by this tactic. A kayaker I know once explained how she used to resent jet-skis and speedboats on the lakes she paddles on, but decided she was being selfish and to just accept it. But personal peace and quiet is somewhat beside the point. Oil and fuel spilled by gasoline boat engines is toxic to fish, birds, and invertebrates, and wakes from motorized watercraft swamp nesting birds such as the loon. In terrestrial habitat, as road density increases habitat security for large animals like bears and wolves decreases. Habitat effectiveness for elk, for example, falls steeply from a hundred percent where there are no roads to 50 percent with two road miles per square mile to 20 percent with six road miles.  Acceptance of the destruction wrought by others might make one feel nicer and ostensibly more democratic, but it means abandoning the defenseless.
The entitlement taken by the ORVers themselves is even more aggressive and unconcerned for life. A motorcyclist, enraged by new restrictions on off-roading in the Mojave Desert, shouted at me: “It’s the fucking desert! Nothing lives out there!” Anyone who’s spent time in the desert and seen the many reptiles, birds, mammals, and plants who live there knows this is ridiculous. The Mojave is the smallest desert in North America, and is being dissected by solar energy projects, military bases, and an ever-worsening ORV infection. Desert tortoises are being displaced to the point of extinction, followed by every other Mojave lizard, snake, and ground-nesting bird in the way of the dominant culture’s activities.
Even on private land, where ORV activity is considered trespassing, landowners are often frustrated by law enforcement’s ineffectiveness.
A California organization called Community ORV Watch advises: “Given current conditions, assistance in dealing with lawless OHV [off highway vehicle] activity in the vicinity of your home is more likely from the Sheriff’s Department than either the BLM or the California Highway Patrol. None of the three agencies consider unlawful OHV activity to be a high priority, so if you are to gain any benefit from an attempted contact with them it is important that you be willing to take the time and effort to see the call through. This isn’t always easy; responses are frequently hours late in arriving or do not come at all, so be prepared for a wait…this can be inconvenient, and it’s tempting to just let it slide rather than commit to a process that could tie you up for hours…
“By not calling, we participate in our own victimization by succumbing to a ‘what’s the use?’ attitude. This hurts community morale and perception over time, and lowers community expectations for services we are absolutely entitled to.”  This organization’s focus, the Morongo Basin in Southern California, is especially unfortunate to be near large population areas where there are lots of ORVers.
Remote areas have their own problems, and even law enforcement organizations are admitting they’re powerless to control ORV use in their jurisdictions. In a 2007 memo, an organization called Rangers for Responsible Recreation writes:
“The consensus of [law enforcement] respondents is that off-road vehicle violations have increased in recent years. Specifically: A majority of respondents (53%) say that ‘the off-road vehicle problems in my jurisdiction are out of control.’ Nearly three quarters (74%) agree that the off-road vehicle problems in their jurisdictions ‘are worse than they were five years ago.’ Fewer than one in six (15%) believe that ORV problems are ‘turning around for the better.’” 
GlorietaMesa.org, “an umbrella organization consisting of ranchers, horseback riders, hikers, environmentalists, wood-gatherers, residents, hunters and off-roaders, who are dedicated to protecting Glorieta Mesa from irresponsible Off-Road Vehicle recreation” writes:
“A 2002 Utah report reveals that a high percentage of riders prefer to ride ‘off established trails’ and did so on their last outing. Of the ATV riders surveyed, 49.4% prefer to ride off established trails, while 39% did so on their most recent excursion. Of the dirt bike riders surveyed, 38.1% prefer to ride off established trails, while 50% rode off established trails on their most recent excursion.
“More than nine out of ten (91%) of respondent rangers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agree that off road vehicles represent ‘a significant law enforcement problem’ in their jurisdictions. According to one BLM respondent, ‘90% of ORV users cause damage every day they ride. Most will violate a rule, regulation or law daily.’” 
ORV damage is just another example of privileged access to limited and stolen resources, and it extends beyond the impacted land to the airborne dust that worsens early mountain snowmelt  and to the spread of invasive weeds.  Human communities are negatively affected, too. Moab merchants make many thousands of dollars on ORV tourism, but the menial jobs that support it are taxing and degrading. ORV tourists tip small or not at all, and are notoriously rude and spiteful. This is why Moab restaurant waiters call the annual “Jeep Week” ORV event “Cheap Week,” when you see hundreds of wealthy strangers swaggering around in t-shirts reading: the best trails are illegal.
 “Protecting America’s Redrock Wilderness: THE FACTS ABOUT OFF-ROAD VEHICLE DAMAGE,” Utah Wilderness Coalition, accessed July 13, 2014,
 “One possible reason for this trend [in increased ORV violations] is a failure to provide sufficient penalties to offroad riders who are caught breaking the law. ‘Possibly the greatest weakness in the ORV enforcement program is the lack of bite in judicial penalties,’ wrote one ranger from the Bureau of Land Management. ‘There is often little penalty in not paying tickets. In California… you only have to pay tickets when you renew a license,’” “First-Ever Survey of Federal Rangers Shows ORVs Out of Control, Need for Tougher Penalties,” Rangers for Responsible Recreation, December 11, 2007,http://www.glorietamesa.org/RangersForResponsibleRecreation.pdf
 Andrew P. Barrett, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado; Thomas H. Painter, University of Utah; and Christopher C. Landry Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, “Desert Dust Enhancement of Mountain Snowmelt,” Feature Article From Intermountain West Climate Summary, July 2008, http://wwa.colorado.edu/climate/iwcs/archive/IWCS_2008_July_feature.pdf
For the second time in as many decades, operations to open the Canyon uranium mine six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park have been suspended. The Havasu Tribe, which had previously challenged the mine, and conservation groups have been working to stop this mine because of potential harm to waters and wildlife of Grand Canyon, as well as cultural resources.
Pursuant to an agreement with the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups, and citing “business reasons,” Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. decided to place the mine in non-operational, stand by status on Tuesday. Uranium prices have dropped to a five-year low during the last three months. The mine was previously placed on stand by in 1992, after uranium prices plunged to record lows. The company resumed shaft-sinking operations in early 2013; the current cessation will last at least until a pending district court ruling or Dec. 31, 2014.
“The Canyon Mine threatens irreversible damage to the Havasupai people and Grand Canyon’s water, wildlife, and tourism economy, so this closure is very good news,” said Roger Clark with the Grand Canyon Trust. “The closure is temporary. Under current policy, federal agencies will permit this mine— like other “zombie mines” across the region— to reopen next year, or 10 or 20 years from now without any new environmental analysis or reclamation. That needs to change.”
The Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service in March over its 2012 decision to allow the controversial mine to open without adequate tribal consultation and without updating a 1986 federal environmental review. The mine is within the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, which the Forest Service designated in 2010 for its religious and cultural importance to tribes, especially Havasupai. It threatens cultural values, wildlife, and water, including aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s springs. The lawsuit charges the Forest Service with violating the National Historic Preservation Act for not consulting with the Havasupai Tribe to determine whether impacts of the mine on Red Butte could be avoided prior to approving mining. It also alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to analyze new circumstances and science since the mine’s outdated 1986 environmental impact statement. Those include the designation of the Red Butte Traditional Cultural Property, reintroduction of the endangered California condor, and new science showing the potential for uranium mining to contaminate deep aquifers and Grand Canyon seeps and springs.
“It’s been clear for years that the public doesn’t want uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. Now that this mine has been put on hold, the Forest Service has yet another opportunity to do the right thing: protect people, wildlife and this incredible landscape from industrial-scale mining and all the pollution and destruction that come with it,” said Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The mine falls within the million-acre “mineral withdrawal” zone approved by the Obama administration in January 2012 to protect Grand Canyon’s watershed from new uranium mining impacts. The withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and mine development on old claims lacking “valid existing rights” to mine. In April 2012 the Forest Service made a determination that there were valid existing rights for the Canyon mine, and in June it issued a report justifying its decision to allow the mine to open without updating the 27-year-old environmental review.
“It is time to halt this mine — permanently,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “It was a bad idea 27 years ago when the now-dated environmental impact statement was issued, it is a bad idea today, and it will certainly be a bad idea tomorrow. Now we know even more about how much Canyon Mine threatens the water, wildlife and cultural resources of Grand Canyon.”
Plaintiffs on the litigation include Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club.
The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. The mine’s original approval in 1986 was the subject of protests and lawsuits by the Havasupai Tribe and others objecting to potential uranium mining impacts on regional groundwater, springs, creeks, ecosystems and cultural values associated with Red Butte.
Aboveground infrastructure was built in the early 1990s, but a crash in uranium prices caused the mine’s closure in 1992 before the shaft or ore bodies could be excavated. Pre-mining exploratory drilling drained groundwater beneath the mine site, eliminating an estimated 1.3 million gallons per year from the region’s springs that are fed by groundwater. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report noted that past samples of groundwater beneath the mine exhibited dissolved uranium concentrations in excess of EPA drinking water standards. Groundwater threatened by the mine feeds municipal wells and seeps and springs in Grand Canyon, including Havasu Springs and Havasu Creek. Aquifer Protection Permits issued for the mine by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality do not require monitoring of deep aquifers and do not include remediation plans or bonding to correct deep aquifer contamination.
Originally owned by Energy Fuels Nuclear, the mine was purchased by Denison Mines in 1997 and by Energy Fuels Resources Inc., which currently owns the mine, in 2012. Energy Fuels has been operating the mine since April 2013, sinking the shaft and preparing the facility for uranium ore excavation.
The Winnemem Wintu are a salmon and middle water people living on what is left of their ancestral lands from Mt. Shasta down the McCloud River watershed in California. They have issued a request for solidarity in defense of a sacred Coming of Age Ceremony for young Winnemem Wintu women. This Ceremony is traditionally held on a 400-yard section of the McCloud, and the Tribe has called for closure of this section during the four-day ceremony from June 29th-July 3rd.
Of course, the Forest Service has denied the Tribe’s demand for a closure of the area during a popular tourist weekend. Last year the agency imposed a voluntary closure in which the Winnemem Wintu could request that boaters stay out of the area, but could not force them. In past years the Ceremony has been interrupted by drunken boaters, a constant stream of loud engines, racial slurs, and even indecent exposure by a woman in a passing boat. The Ceremony includes an important element in which the young women swim across the river. With the constant boat traffic, this action puts participants in direct physical danger.
“We have been backed into a corner with no other choice. We should be preparing for Marisa [Sisk]’s ceremony, setting down prayers, making regalia, getting the dance grounds ready, making sure it happens in a good way,” said Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and chief. “But instead we have to fight simply to protect our young women from drunken harassment.”
The Winnemem Wintu are requesting help to blockade the river and prevent intrusive disruptions of this important Ceremony. Experienced kayakers are especially needed. Help is also need to publicize these violations through phone, networking, media, social media, and letters of protest sent to the regional Forest Service office. (See contact info below for the office’s address)
For anyone considering participation in this blockade, there are some important things to think about. First and foremost, this is an act of solidarity. This is not an invitation to a sacred ceremony or a protest. Individuals interested in participating should be fully self-sufficient with provisions, tents, and other camping equipment.
A non-Native supporter who works in solidarity with Indigenous struggles offers some insight on Indigenous solidarity in general:
“Ask the Winnemem Wintu and trusted supporters on-site where help from non-Natives is appropriate and needed.
From personal experience as a non-Native doing support work, I would only bring other non-Natives if they are known to be respectful of boundaries, and not doing this work as a way to steal Indigenous Knowledge or gain access to ceremony. Undoubtedly some of those sorts will turn up, and I think it’s our job as white allies to run interference and keep any disruption, even “well-intentioned” disruption, away from the ceremonies.
I know some AIMsters who blockaded the river for the last ceremony. They were not there to participate in ceremony, but to do support. So they set up their own camp and organized patrols on the water and shores. They kept a boundary around any ceremonial activity, they worked in the kitchens, they made sure the Winnemem Wintu folks had the space to do their thing. From what I saw from my friends’ photos, there’s a campground there and it makes sense to have a series of interconnected camps like affinity groups.
This type of protection of ceremony is similar to what some of my male friends have done to protect women’s ceremonies – they have stood just out of earshot (though a yell could reach them), turned their backs so they don’t witness anything private, and kept other men from coming into the women’s space.”
Watch a video of the intrusive disturbance of a previous Ceremony: http://vimeo.com/39867112
Those interested in protecting this Ceremony please contact: email@example.com
To send letters or make phone calls in protest of the Forest Service’s inaction:
Attorney General Kamala Harris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant AG Kristian Whitten: email@example.com (civil rights violations).
Governor’s twitter: @JerryBrownGov
Email Randy Moore, Regional Forest Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Snail Mail: 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592
The Tribe requests that messages are respectful and peaceful.
Media inquiries, please contact:
Jeanne France, Media Relations: 530-472-1050
Michael Preston, Media Relations: 510-926-1513
Press Coverage of the Winnemam Wintu War Dance in protest of the Forest Service’s inaction: