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Drowned Memories: The Submerged Places of the Winnemem Wintu

Abstract

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.

Résumé

Cet article est une brève vue d’ensemble d’un exemple dans lequel l’inondation du territoire a interrompu la culture du lieu. Les Winnemen Wintu, sont une tribu amérindienne du nord de la Californie, dont la plupart de ses territoires ancestraux le long de la rivière McCloud, ont été immergés lors de la construction du barrage Shasta peu après la deuxième guerre mondiale. Ainsi ces propriétés traditionnelles et culturelles de la tribu sont soumises aux perpétuelles menaces de l’oubli et/ou de la destruction, étant également paralysées par les conflits et les poursuites juridiques contre l’hégémonie du gouvernement des Etats-Unis a propos de l’identité culturelle tribale qui rendent difficile la pratique des cérémonies traditionnelles. Partie intégrante de la recherche archéologique sur ces territoires immergés, le leader spirituel de la tribu, Caleen Sisk-Franco, et le chef de tribu, Mark Franco, parlent de ces menaces avec l’auteur et de la manière dont leur culture doit s’adapter pour y faire face.

Resumen

El presente artículo presenta brevemente un caso en que la inundación del paisaje ha desconectado la cultura del lugar. La Winnemem Wintu, una tribu Americana nativa del norte de California, vio cómo la mayor parte de su paisaje ancestral a lo largo río McCloud quedó sumergida por la construcción de la presa de Shasta justo después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El resto de propiedades culturales de la tribu sufre continuas amenazas de pérdida y destrucción, mermando la capacidad de la tribu para practicar sus ceremonias tradicionales debido a que tienen que enzarzarse en batallas y luchas jurídicas contra la continua afirmación del poder hegemónico de los Estados Unidos sobre la identidad cultural tribal. Dentro de las investigaciones arqueológicas de estos lugares sumergidos, el líder espiritual de la tribu, Caleen Sisk-Franco y el jefe tribal Mark Franco, hablaron con el autor sobre estas amenazas y de cómo su cultura debe aprender a adaptarse a ellas.

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Correspondence to Bradley L. Garrett.

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Garrett, B.L. Drowned Memories: The Submerged Places of the Winnemem Wintu. Arch 6, 346–371 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-009-9109-9

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keywords

  • Winnemem Wintu
  • Underwater archaeology
  • Submerged cultural resources
  • Dams
  • Cultural geography
  • Cultural tradition
  • Landscape
  • Place
  • California