For the Winnemem Wintu tribe that created the Run4Salmon movement, climate resilience means reconnecting to Mother Earth.
In California, Caleen Sisk, Chief of Winnemem Wintu, her tribe, a collective of indigenous women and activists have embarked on a prayer journey that follows the historic route of the Chinook salmon in order to pray for its return. The aim is to raise awareness of the policies and issues that threaten water, fish and ways of life.
This 300-mile trek on foot, bicycle, canoe, and horse spans over 2 weeks and travels between the Winnemem Waywacket (McCould River) to the Bay-Delta Estuary at the Ohlone site, Sogorea Te (Glen Cove, Vallejo, California).
Chinook salmon plays a key role. They provide essential nutrients to streams, forests and land. But since the construction of Shasta Dam 75 years ago, these salmon have not been able to return to their native waters in the ancestral basin in California. Run4Salmon seeks to protect rivers, lands and native cultures by restoring salmon runs.
Reconnecting with nature
The aim is to inform and raise awareness among residents and the wider public. This community initiative is also based on the idea that disconnection from the natural world is at stake. The Run4Salmon course is an opportunity to create links between people and living ecosystems.
Coupled with advocacy, campaigns and indigenous curriculum, the Run4Salmon prayerful journey for the past 4 years has engaged government officials, lawyers, advocates and everyday people on the 300-mile journey that the endangered Chinook salmon make along the waters of California’s largest watershed.
Since 2016, Run4Salmon has engaged thousands of people along the Sacramento and McCloud River by hosting film screenings, live streams, direct actions and creating curriculum for schools to educate people about the importance of protecting the watersheds. Four other tribes also joined Run4Salmon.
Today, the only remaining genetic descendants of these salmon live in New Zealand. The Winnemem Wintu tribe is seeking to bring these salmon home and build a swimway for them to restore balance to waters in California.
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