Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
As is well-known by settler co-conspirators of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California, oral histories recount salmon giving their voice to Winnemem ancestors in exchange for the Winnemem’s promise always to speak for them. Since the building of the Shasta Dam in 1945, however, the salmon have disappeared from the McCloud River. Winnemem Wintu are now working both to bring the salmon back and to oppose the further raising of the dam: since 2016 they have been organizing Run4Salmon, a prayerful journey – undertaken by foot, bicycle, horse, and boat – that traces the salmon’s historic route up the McCloud River. This paper considers a few ways in the heterogenous group of settlers who have worked closely with the Winnemen Wintu on Run4Salmon respond to Winnemem ancestral practices. Specifically, I consider how these settlers – many of them people of color – draw their own genealogies, (re)claim their own ancestors, and investigate their “own” indigeneity, practices strongly mediated by sound and song. This paper relies primarily on interviews (formal and informal) conducted with settlers who have given me permission to write about our conversations. Everything I share about Winnemem Wintu is public-facing information that the Winnemem themselves promote on social media for the purpose of disseminating it widely.