2019 Anthony Prize Winner

About Winnemem Wintu Tribal Chief Caleen Sisk

In 2014, Chief Caleen Sisk reported on racial discrimination of Federal Tribal Recognition at the United Nations in Geneva. Photo credit: Winnemem Wintu Tribe

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment announced Winnemem Wintu Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk as the winner of the 2019 Anthony Grassroots Prize, an annual $1,000 Earth Day award recognizing an outstanding example of grassroots environmental activism.

Since assuming leadership in 2000, Chief Sisk has focused on uplifting the cultural and religious traditions of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, such as the revitalization of the Winnemem’s H’up Chonas (War Dance) and BaLas Chonas (Puberty Ceremony). In tandem, she advocates tirelessly for salmon restoration, the undamming of watersheds, and the basic human right to clean water. Chief Sisk is currently leading the Tribe’s resistance against the proposal to raise the Shasta Dam, and is an integral voice in the efforts to bring salmon home to the tribe’s sacred watersheds above the dam.

About the Winnemem Wintu Tribe

The Winnemem Wintu tribe is indigenous to Northern California and has been formally recognized by the California Native American Heritage Commission, an agency of the State of California with responsibility for preserving and protecting Native American sites and cultural resources in California. We once numbered approximately 14,000; by 1910, after several decades of conflict with white settlers, that number had plummeted to 400.  Today the tribe’s population is approximately 150.

In our language Winnemem Wintu translates to Middle Water People as the McCloud River is bounded by the Upper Sacramento to the West and the Pit River to the East. We were born from water, we are of the water, and we fight to protect it.

Click here to read the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s full article on their history.

Press Release


More Photos of Chief Sisk and Her Work

Chief Caleen Sisk speaks on the State Capitol to demand radical changes in California’s water policy. Photo credit: Dan Bacher









Chief Sisk blesses the Sacred Fire during a War Dance resisting the Shasta Dam raise. Photo Credit: Dan Bacher, Indy Bay









Chief Caleen Sisk leading the Sunrise Ceremony at the Meadow with Mt. Shasta in view. Photo credit: Winnemem Wintu Tribe



















Poster for Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s Run4Salmon prayer journey. Poster by Melanie Cervantes.

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