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Salmon Film Premieres At Bijou

James Ward with a McCloud River Salmon in New Zealand. Photo by Will Doolittle.
James Ward with a McCloud River Salmon in New Zealand. Photo by Will Doolittle.

p>The Winnemum Wintu have been fighting for years to bring their native salmon back, and local filmmaker Will Doolittle will be premiering his documentary film, Dancing Salmon Home, about the tribe and their efforts on May 3 at Bijou Cinemas. The event will also feature the short film Ceremony is Not a Crime and a Q&A with Doolittle and Chief Caleen Sisk. 

Doolittle says his wife, Misa Joo, was adopted into the tribe, and that he and Joo were helped by Florence Jones, the spiritual leader of the tribe until her passing in 2003. Doolittle says the film is “a way to give back using my skills as a media producer and a filmmaker.” He says he tries to tell the story from the Winnemum Wintu point of view as much as possible “and let them tell it.” 

The film documents how the tribe, which is not federally recognized, discovered the native salmon they had traditionally fished in the McCloud River in Northern California had not died out. Some had been taken to a river in New Zealand and existed there, uncontaminated by other salmon. Members of the tribe went there, had a ceremony and began efforts to bring the native salmon home. Their unrecognized status has impeded those efforts and has even made it difficult for the tribe to conduct traditional ceremonies on their ancestral land.

Doolittle says the film documents the tribe’s history, “its genesis story, the trauma and holocaust of the Gold Rush era, through today.” Dancing Salmon Home has its Eugene premiere 6 pm May 3 at Bijou Cinemas. For more information go to http://wkly.ws/1gn.