After decades of fighting to regain ownership of their ancestral lands, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe marked this year’s Indigenous People’s Day with the purchase of 1,080 acres of land along the McCloud River in northern California, reports Vox. One of their goals: restore biodiversity to the landscape. It’s a hard-won milestone for the tribe, which is hoping, among other things, to restore the river’s endangered Chinook salmon population. In 2022, they began this process by depositing 40,000 salmon eggs in the McCloud River. The salmon had vanished from the river after the Shasta Dam blocked their path upstream to spawn when it was completed in the 1940s. The dam also flooded the tribe’s ancestral villages and much of their ancestral land.
Salmon are a keystone species, providing food and nutrients to rivers and surrounding ecosystems. The devastating impact of dams on their spawning cycles—and the efforts of Indigenous people to revive them—are featured in Wild Hope: The Beautiful Undammed. Now that the Winnemem Wintu have gained back some of their land, they also hope to resume traditional practices like controlled burns to revive the ecosystem around the river.