The epic McCloud River runs approximately 50 miles from the spring-fed headwaters southeast of Mount Shasta into the Shasta Reservoir. Before Shasta Dam (completed in 1944) blocked the return of anadromous fish, the McCloud River was one of the most productive salmon and steelhead waters in the Sacramento Watershed. Home to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the river has served cultural, religious, and survival needs for thousands of years.
Our partners at American Rivers currently list the McCloud River at #7 on their list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. “The [McCloud] river’s health and the [Winnemem Wintu] tribe’s cultural values are threatened by raising the height of Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet, which would drown vital habitat, riverside lands and numerous sacred sites”, according to American Rivers.
Calls to the Biden Administration to issue a ruling in favor of river protection are being made public. Chief Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, explained in an opinion piece that the Biden administration should issue a final decision to prevent the Shasta Dam project because of tribal rights and environmental impacts.
As Chief Sisk points out, “Injustice to tribal people is not a distant memory. It is with us today – as visible as Shasta Dam. As demonstrated by George Floyd’s murderer and growing attacks on Asian Americans, our nation has a long way to go to ensure equal justice for all. Ensuring justice for Native Americans is another place where the United States can still live up to its values. ”