Caleen Sisk: make your voices heard against the tunnels

By Dan Bacher Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, has issued a urgent call to show opposition to the stat...

By Dan Bacher

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, has issued a urgent call to show opposition to the state-federal plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnels at a rally on the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, July 25 starting at noon.

Governor Jerry Brown is expected on or near July 25 to announce his plans to build two gigantic tunnels to divert Sacramento River south to corporate agribusiness and southern California, killing Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species and destroying the estuary.

"California Indians and Tribes need to come make your voices be heard on July 25 at the Capitol if you need salmon and/or water,” said Sisk. “The old failed plan in back in the saddle and needs to wear an arrow shirt if the life of the California homelands are to survive this harebrained plan.”

“Please join the efforts of Restore the Delta and many others in opposing this! We need to unite about this misinformation of no scientific common sense! This a drastic mistake!” Sisk urged.

“Make no mistake,” Sisk emphasized. “The peripheral canal will destroy river ecosystems, destroy fisheries and sentence us to a future where clean water is a luxury rather than a right. Make sure your voice is heard!”

Sisk and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe are leading a campaign to stop the raising of Shasta Dam and to reintroduce winter run chinook salmon to the McCloud River above Lake Shasta. The Tribe has been one of the most steadfast opponents of the tunnels that the expanded Lake Shasta would supply.

The construction of a peripheral canal or tunnels that would divert water 35 miles around the Delta to the Tracy water export pumps is expected to hasten the extinction of Central Valley chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species, according to agency and independent scientists.

A broad coalition of Delta residents, Indian Tribes, fishermen, family farmers, and environmentalists believes that you can't "save" the Delta by draining it.

Sisk compared the governor's "twin tunnels" plan to the Brazilian government's plans to build the third-largest dam in the world and one of the Amazon's most controversial development projects – the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in the state of Pará.

"The Governor's proposed gigantic tunnels and the raising of Shasta Dam are the same as what they are doing at the Belo Monte Dam....totally ignoring the needs of the animals, the environment, and the people, and most of all ignoring the the total IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE TO THE WATERS!" said Sisk. "It is all about the money and who's pockets it is in."

"The Governor and Government is wrong about this water plan on all levels," she emphasized. "California Tribes need to be included and come to the water talks and plans! We have not given our 'free, prior, and informed consent' on this water plan that affects our tribal communities and way of life!"

In case of Bel Monte Dam, up to 80% of the Xingu River will be diverted from its original course in order to feed the powerhouse of the dam complex, causing a permanent drought on the river's "Big Bend," and directly affecting the Paquiçamba and Arara territories of the Juruna and Arara indigenous peoples, according to Amazon Watch ( To make this possible, two huge canals 500 meters wide by 75 km long - in a scheme similar to Jerry Brown's twin peripheral tunnels - will be excavated, unearthing more land than was removed to build the Panama Canal.

"The common people will pay for the peripheral canal and a few people will make millions," summed Sisk. "It will turn a once pristine water way into a sewer pipe. It will be all bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California."

“Are you a warrior who will come to the aid of this river and fish? I will be there!” she concluded.

Restore the Delta, elected leaders, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Planning and Conservation League, the Environmental Water Caucus, Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus and a dozen other groups announced last week they will launch their campaign against the “Peripheral Tunnels” with the rally at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

As the governor and federal officials prepare to unveil their proposal, opponents will point out expected damage to water, the environment, fish, farming and water ratepayers.

“The governor and federal officials are poised to pursue one of the largest public works projects in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “We oppose the rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge growers on the west side of the Central Valley.”

For more information about the Winnemen Wintu Tribe, go to:

For more information about Restore the Delta, go to

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