Drowned Memories: The Submerged Places of the Winnemem Wintu
Bradley L. Garrett | July 7th, 2009
This article is a brief overview of an instance where landscape inundation has disconnected culture from place. The Winnemem Wintu, a Native American tribe in Northern California, had most of their ancestral landscape along the McCloud River submerged by the construction of Shasta Dam just after World War II. The tribe’s remaining traditional cultural properties are under continual threat of loss and/or destruction, leaving the tribe’s ability to practice traditional ceremonies crippled by legal battles and fights against the continual assertion of United States hegemonic power over tribal cultural identity. As part of archaeological research on these submerged places, the tribe’s spiritual leader, Caleen Sisk-Franco, and Tribal Headman, Mark Franco, spoke with the author about these threats and how their culture must adapt to meet them.