Culture and tradition: Water quality, low flows stop ceremonies, dances
- To the area's tribes, the river isn't just about food.
It's about life and living. It plays a part in ceremonies and rituals.
Even though each tribe has its own ceremonies, most involve either getting into or floating down the waterways. Poor water quality and low flows make that more and more difficult.
Sami Difuntorum, a member of the Shasta Indian Nation, said her tribe was fractured when the dams were built, and they've struggled to regain their identity.
The Shasta tribe, although not federally recognized, also has traditional aboriginal lands in the Klamath Basin stretching upriver from the Seiad Valley in California into Southern Oregon. Difuntorum said their original land base was one of the largest of all the tribes in the area.
"We have medicine people who must bathe in the river for ceremonial purposes," said Robert McConnell, a Yurok tribal elder. "The ceremonies are conducted June through August and as late as mid-September. The latter part of that timeframe is when we have the blue-green algae coming down the river."
The Brush Dance is conducted by the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk tribes, and involves a medicine woman entering the river at a certain point during the ceremony.
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