Lesson Two

The Winnemem and the Salmon

Standards: HSS 4.1 & 4.2, CCSS SL4.2 and 4.3, W4.8


Students will learn about the Winnemem Wintu’s close relationship with the salmon (Nur).


  • Dancing Salmon Home video clip: Creation Story (2:29)
  • Students’ California Watershed Maps

Estimated time

1 class session.


Activity 1: Creation Story Video Clip

Show Creation Story Video Clip (2:29)

Activity 2: Read Excerpt (below)

The Winnemem Wintu people are still honoring their obligation to the Nur today by advocating for the restoration of the declining salmon population and the construction of a passageway to allow the fish to swim around dams that have blocked their migration route to the upper rivers. As quoted from their website:

We are a traditional tribe who inhabits our ancestral territory from Mt. Shasta down the McCloud River watershed. When Shasta Dam was constructed during World War II, it flooded our home and blocked the salmon runs.

The salmon are an integral part of our lifeway and of a healthy McCloud River watershed. We believe that when the last salmon is gone, humans will be gone too. Our fight to return the salmon to the McCloud River is no less than a fight to save the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

As salmon people and middle water people we advocate for all aspects of clean water and the restoration of salmon to their natural spawning grounds.

—Sawal Mem, Sawal Suhana  (Sacred Water, Sacred Life)
from the Winnemem Wintu website

Wintu is a name used to describe many Native Californian communities of neighboring regions who speak closely related languages.

Activity 3: Summary Writing

Write a paragraph describing the relationship between the Winnemem Wintu and the salmon. Why are salmon so important to them? Why are they speaking up for salmon?

Activity 4: Compare Maps

Where is Run4Salmon now? Check the location and status of the event at (http://run4salmon.org/)

  • Students mark the progress on their California Watershed maps
  • How many miles have been covered from the start to the run’s current location?