Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Chief of Winnemem Wintu Tribe
Winnemem Wintu Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk is 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. Click here for more information on Caleen Sisk and her work.
Chief Caleen Sisk truly embodies the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s ancestral spiritual belief, “When we first bubbled out of our sacred spring on Mt. Shasta at the time of creation, we were helpless and unable to speak. It was salmon, the Nur, who took pity on us humans and gave us their voice. In return, we promised to always speak for them.”Providing a voice for the nearly extinct Chinook salmon, she leads the annual Run4Salmon, a statewide prayer run that raises awareness of the importance of protecting our waterways, restoring California’s salmon runs, and revitalizing Indigenous ways of life.
In memoriam: Denny Larson
On March 6, 2019, we lost Denny Larson – a friend, a teacher, and a tireless partner in helping fenceline communities in California and across our shrinking planet demand environmental justice. For 35 years, Denny helped all of us understand how to integrate health data with community-driven advocacy to fight for the human right to breathe clean air. By pioneering a low-cost “bucket brigade” model that used simple hardware store equipment to take air samples, he taught community members how to unlock their power to advocate for environmental health. Denny helped local activists stop oil refinery pollution in Contra Costa County, Louisiana’s cancer alley, Puerto Rico, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Ireland, Thailand, Philippines, India, and many other places. Click here for more information on Denny Larson.