The Winnemem Wintu Tribe has been dealing with the U.S. Forest Service for weeks, trying to secure a permit to hold a special coming of age ceremony for the young ladies in the tribe.
The Winnemem consider the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake their sacred ground, much of which was lost when the dam was built.
Caleen Sisk, the tribe's Chief and Spiritual Leader tells us, "this is our traditional place, why would people want us to move? This is the only place we can be, to be Winnemem."
When it's full, Shasta Lake has a whopping 365 miles of shoreline. Sisk says they're not asking for much. The tribe wants to section off the last 400 yards at the end of the McCloud arm for about four days in July.
The tribe has made the request for years and consistently, it's been denied, with priority given to boaters and vacationers using the lake.
Gary Hayward-Slaughter, a longtime Winnemem says it's not fair for the tribe to have to deal with distractions during their sacred ritual. He tells us, "we're not going to put up with drunk people coming up here, people flashing us and saying a bunch of racist stuff in the middle of a ceremony."
John Heil, the Press Officer for U.S. Forest Service, told us they haven't made a decision yet because the special use permit is incomplete. But, the tribe showed us the permit, with every section filled out.
The Winnemem says, if they don't get approved this year, they won't be backing down. Hayward-Slaughter says, "if they don't grant the closure, we're going to close the river. We will blockade the river if we have to."
If that happens, the tribe plans to use boats and its members to close off that section of the McCloud arm.
The Winnemem tells us they hope officials will respect their culture as much as they do. Sisk said, "they're going to remember this ceremony and I hope that its not remembered in a disastrous way. What we're asking for is peace and dignity to allow is to carry on a tribal way of life."
The tribe plans to spend Memorial weekend doing war dances and other spiritual activities to raise awareness with the public about their fight.
The Shasta County Sheriff's Department tells us they'll keep an eye on the situation and will be ready, just in case anything happens.