Jones Valley area, with creeks and rivers thick with fish and
oak trees loaded with acorns, was an important place for American
was an area rich in food and spirituality. There were and
still are sacred American Indian places in Jones Valley.
the Europeans began to arrive in the 1850s, many Wintu and Yana
lived along the Pit River, said archaeologist Elaine Sundahl, who
has done work in the area for the U.S. Forest Service. Clikapudi
Trail, an eight-mile dirt trail popular with mountain bikers, horseback
riders and runners, gets its name from conflict between the two
means battleground, Sundahl said.
Sisk-Franco, 50, of the Winemem band of the Wintu, said there were
once 16 major villages near Bear Mountain.
Mountain is a spiritual mountain for us, Sisk-Franco said.
rocks, gathering sites and other places in the Jones Valley area
also are sacred, she said. American Indians go to sacred places
to pray, sing and seek courage or guidance.
are considered churches, even though there are no buildings there,
said Mark Franco, 48, Sisk-Franco's husband.
said it's important to keep the American Indian religion and traditions
alive. She learned them from her grandmother, Florence Jones, 96,
the spiritual leader of the Winemem.
was born on the McCloud River. She moved to Jones Valley in the
1930s and brought the ways of her people practiced for hundreds
of years with her. She and her late husband, Andy, built
a home at the base of Bear Mountain in 1950.
was nothing but manzanita, Jones recalls. Me and my husband cleared
it and I said, 'I want my house right here.'
still lives in the house on a 42-acre piece of land. Sisk-Franco
and 15 other family members also live on the property.
feels fortunate the American Indian traditions have remained in
have never been disconnected. That line of knowledge has never been
broken, she said.
Indian culture is more than attending a powwow or displaying baskets,
Sisk-Franco said. It's based on the way you live. It's based on
hope is to establish a Winemem village on her family's property
so that the ways of the Winemem continue.
trying to make this a major village. We hope that all 120 members
(of the Winemem band) will be able to live here again, she said.
with the rest of society has been difficult for many American Indians,
Sisk-Franco said. They suffer from high rates of diabetes, alcoholism
and other problems, she said.
most we have done is hurt ourselves, trying to live in a different
type of society, she said. What I want to do is bring our people
back . . . so they know who they are and have a strong foundation.