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With the Strength of Our Ancestors

Win- River Casino

Win- River Casino

To many Shasta County residents, Win-River Resort & Casino is all that is known of the native-American Winnemem Wintu, Pit River and Yana tribes.

The 44 minute documentary With the Strength of Our Ancestors, narrated by Peter Coyote is a well-told history of Redding Rancheria. I recommend it.

It tells the fascinating story of the how in the 1930’s during the Roosevelt administration, Federal Indian policy had swung in the direction of  favoring or enhancing tribal sovereignty and self-determination as part of the Indian “new deal.” The idea was that the Federal government should encourage and promote Indian lands as separate communities so that they could exercise some level of self-determination over their own lives and through that they could improve the quality of their lives.

Native-American and F. D. Roosevelt

But, starting in the 1950″ there was a “termination movement” to remove Federal protection for native-American communities, which resulted in them “no longer being Indians.”

What I find inspiring in this film is the determination and resolve of a people to retain their cultural and community identity in spite of a history filled with hardship.

In the 1980’s Redding Rancheria was able to adopt a constitution and governmental structure that led to improved social conditions and what is now the successful Win-River Resort & Casino.

This native-American community has emerged as Shasta County’s 5th largest employer (150 in administration; 350 in the casino; and 50 in the hotel and mini-mart) and a generous contributor to charitable organizations and initiatives.

They have earned respect as a people and have become community leaders because the people in leadership roles are thinking not just about themselves, but about the community.