The International Centre for Archaeology Underwater








ICAU interviews Caleen Sisk-Franco, spiritual leader of the Wintu
regarding the raising of Shasta Lake and the possible drowning of
cultural sites.

These transcripts are public, and may be reprinted with proper reference.


ICAU: Thank you for speaking with us. I would like to ask you a few questions about
            the problems you are having with the Bureau of Reclamation. It would seem that you
            have had to go to extreme measures to get your voice heard. Do the problems that you are
            having today relate back to the tribe never receiving federal recognition in the past?


CSF: In 1937 [at the time of the proposed reservoir construction] we had an act of Congress
            that guaranteed like-land for families and/or appropriate tribes to live on.  We are the appropriate tribe,
            so where is the like-land to live on?

ICAU: Was land was given to the tribe during the initial construction of Shasta lake?


CSF: ‘No, land was set aside for a cemetery, held in trust by the government, but no land was given
            to living people who were forced to leave.’


ICAU: I reviewed the archaeological survey report by Smith and Weymouth in 1952,
            where I obtained a map of sites along the McCloud river that were recorded by
            archaeologists. This report said that 37 significant archaeological sites were going to be
            flooded. From my perspective this is problematic. Archaeologists may have a different
            opinion than tribal members about what is significant, and the tribe was never consulted.


CSF: ‘That’s right. I am not quite sure what they mean by ‘archaeological’ sites. We have sites that probably
            an archaeologist would stumble right on past because it doesn’t have mortar holes, it doesn’t have hand tools, it
            doesn’t have a lithic scatter. It may just be a big rock. There were several of these sites which were fishing places,
            salmon fishing places which were submerged
. ’


ICAU: Shasta Lake have been turned into a recreational reservoir. Research in Australia has
            shown that many archaeological sites in reservoirs are being polluted by recreation boating and fishing.
            Does it concern you that this may be happening in Shasta Lake?


CSF: ‘I think that is happening.  When the water recedes, you can see the oil residue on the banks.  We have
            been trying to get the Forest Service to stop boats from coming up the McCloud River arm because that is the
            main arm for rainbow trout, but boating is much popular than fish.’


ICAU: The state government is discussing the possible deconstruction of Hetch Hetchy
            reservoir in Yosemite, citing the damage that have been incurred to sites on the banks from water
            level fluctuations. Is thas also taking place in Shasta Lake?


CSF: ‘We do have one site that we use right now that is being damaged by the water when it builds up
            and recedes.  It is washing away the bank where this puberty rock is and it won’t be long before the wake
            and the boats and the drawdown erodes it away.’


ICAU: Can you give me some more information on that site?


CSF: ‘That is where our puberty ceremonies used to be held.’


ICAU: Let’s turn to the new project that is being proposed by the federal government to raise
            Lake Shasta another 18 feet.


CSF: ‘They are talking about raising the lake 6 ½ - 200 feet. Their study right now is more detailed at 18 ½ feet.


ICAU: In all of the documents I have seen so far, no one is discussing the cultural impacts
            of raising the water level.


CSF:They say they will not going to put any of that kind of thing into their reports until they have an
            undertaking and enter the section 106 process. They might do the NEPA and the 106 together, get it done
            and it sounds like they might do the 106 just before they pour the cement.’


‘We already went to the them and told them they need to look at the cultural sites. You need to really take
            a look at the cultural sites that are going to be devastated.  They’re already inundated with water most of
            the year.  These sites are still in use and they’ll never come out again. They told us that it is just a study
            and that those issues will get addressed, but I wonder when? When the steamrollers are running downhill?’


‘Wouldn’t you want to save the taxpayers a lot of money by identifying that these are cultural sites and
             traditional properties of an active tribe up front? We have already beared the brunt of California’s thirsty
             water conditions once.  Why do we have to do it again?’


ICAU: Tell me about the importance of the sites that would be submerged by the Lake.


CSF: ‘Sites that are on the lake are connected to sacred sites on the mountain. There is a mountain that the
            boys climb when they are becoming men. When they come down form that mountain, there are pools that
            they must swim in. There is also a puberty rock, which I think is the last one, which will be lost. These
            places may not meet the definition of archaeological site but for the culture and for the tradition, they are
            very important. These sites are the heart of the tribe’


Even just destroying those two sites is like saying that I think the pope can do without his cross and
             chalice. We will just flood those things. You can still have your traditions, you just can’t have those things’


We already did this one time and I think that our people have suffered for that. The traditions of the
             Winnemem people go right back to the losses incurred by losing our territory. Everything we ever knew
             is underwater


ICAU: What if these sites re-emerge? Are you worried about the forest services ability to protect
            those sites if they come out of the water?


CSF: ‘This last year they drained it down to 50% and people in house boats were out there digging around.’


ICAU: Tell me about what you would like to see happen.


CSF: ‘I would like to see the government deal with the Winnemem Wintu fairly and justly. Give us our
            like land to live on, promised under the 1937 Act of Congress. These camp sites and boat ramps out there
            on the lake could have been our like land to live on


ICAU: Any last comments?


CSF: ‘How can you build a dam higher when you have not fulfilled the obligations of the law that
            allowed you to build it in the first place?’


ICAU: Thank you for your time. I wish you the best of luck in your battle.









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Battle to Save Sacred Sites - The Winnemem Wintu go to war against Shasta Dam

The ICAU is currently working with the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Northern California to help protect sacred sites that are to be submerged by the raising of Lake Shasta.






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