THE RIVER PEOPLE
Chief Caleen Sisk tells the story of the Winnemem Wintu people’s beginning and purpose.
The gold rush in the 1850’s brought hardship and suffering to the people of the McCloud River.
In 1851, leaders of the Winnemem Wintu and other area tribes signed a treaty with the US Government in which they ceded lands in return for protection and support for making a new life. One of the signers for the Winnemem was Norel Putus, for whom it must have been a difficult decision.
But 40 years passed with no contact from the US government regarding the promises that were made to the people of the area. In 1890, Norel Putus came together once again with area leaders to write a letter to then-President Harrison asking what had become the treaty and the promised protection and support. They hadn’t been informed that the treaty (and 17 others signed in California in the same year) had been rejected by the Senate and President on the urging of California’s business interests.