Redding Premiere Set, April 12, 2013

I’m excited to share news of the Redding Premiere of Dancing Salmon Home. For me, this is the most important screening, since Redding is home for the Winnemem Wintu people, and just downriver from their beloved McCloud River and Mt. Shasta ancestral area. And it’s a place where, by and large, the current residents know little to nothing about the region’s true history and who the Winnemem Wintu people really are, in their own words. It’s my hope that the film can be a tool to educate people about the way that California’s tribal people were treated in the taking of their lands, and how they are still being treated through non-recognition and disrespect.

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If you are in the Redding area, please come to the screening. And please spread the word!

Dancing Salmon Home – Redding Film Premiere
Date: Friday, April 12, 2013
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Shasta College, Room 800, Rm 802, 11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding (use the East parking lot)
Cost: $7 suggested donation, Children under 12 free
Tickets: Advance tickets available via
I will introduce the film, which will be followed by a talk by Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk and question and answer.

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Wild & Scenic Film Festival Screenings Set

Dancing Salmon Home is set to screen twice at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, California:

— Friday, January 11, anchoring one of the 7:00 pm sessions.

— Saturday, January 12, during a 1:00 pm session, which will also feature a panel discussion to include Chief Caleen Sisk.

For tickets and more information, go to the festival website.

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“Dancing Salmon Home” Wins Best Documentary Feature

At the 2012 American Indian Film Festival, members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe accept the award for Director Will Doolittle.

Photo by Kayla Rae Carpenter

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Dancing Salmon Home Premieres at American Indian Film Festival

Since you haven’t heard from me for a year, you may have thought Dancing Salmon Home was a faded dream, but the many hours of images and sound have been steadily transforming into a real honest-to-goodness film.  And as proof of that fact, I just received word that the documentary has been accepted to show at the American Indian Film Festival, in San Francisco.  This is very exciting, as it will be the first public showing at its full 65 minute length!  If you’re in the area at noon on Tuesday, November 6, I hope you will attend.

The film has also been accepted at another well-regarded environmental film festival, but the official announcement has not been made, so the details will have to wait. 

It’s great to get it to this stage, but there is still plenty of work to be done, so if you have it in your pocket and your heart to help with a tax-deductible donation, it will be well-spent on technical polishing and distribution.  I appreciate any amount, and you will be included in the credits!

I extend a huge Thank You! to all of you who have already donated your hard-earned dollars and offered encouragement and spiritual support along the way.  Without you, the project would not have gotten this far.

And I have appreciation beyond words for Chief Caleen Sisk and the members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe who have endured my following them around with camera and microphone over the last two and a half years.  I hope this film will help the world understand your important story and hear your message about the importance of Salmon and Water.

Find more information about the festival at this link, although the site isn’t yet updated with this year’s information.

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Ceremony, New & Renewed Ties

Early in August, four members of the Winnemems’ Kiwi family (John Wilkie, Gloria Wilkie, Pauline Reid and Dirk Barr) arrived to help support the tribe’s plans for bringing the McCloud Chinook salmon home and to participate in the annual Coonrod ceremony. As much as possible, I was there to get the story on video. Through three days of ceremony, the tribe’s singers and dancers brought out the Salmon Dance, and other groups shared their ceremonial dancing, including Hupa tribal members, Aztec dancers of the Xitlalli dance group, and Pomo dancers. Other guests included Native economist and activist Winona LaDuke, and Jack K. Iaukea, of the indigenous Kingdom of Hawaii, as well as two staff members of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Another highlight of the ceremony was the annual Salmon Challenge, where anyone who can handle cold, glacier-fed water takes on a specific challenge at each of three waterfalls on the upper McCloud River. In jumping in to the cold water at the first falls, going under the cascade of the second falls, and picking up a rock from the bottom at the upper falls, the participants are put in touch with the challenges that the salmon face and overcome in their relentless determination to get upstream to spawn and continue the cycle of life.

The week following the ceremony, NOAA hosted a meeting with the tribe and Kiwi supporters, where Chief Caleen Sisk Franco outlined the Winnemems’ ideas for bringing the salmon back home to the McCloud from New Zealand, and expressed the tribe’s desire to become a partner with the government agencies in the goal of reviving the salmon runs above the dams. Caleen said she was encouraged by the meeting, as the NOAA folks said they welcomed the tribe’s participation and agreed to the creation of a formal agreement.

I’ll post some clips as I’m able to put together. Stay tuned!

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Return to New Zealand

In March, thanks in part to the generous support of many of you, I returned to New Zealand to shoot interviews and footage that I wasn’t able to get when I traveled with the Winnemem the previous year. I addition, I wanted to more fully tell the story of the Maoris’ “Tuna”, their sacred Longfin Eel, unique to New Zealand, whose life cycle is the mirror of the salmon’s. The female longfin lives for 80 to 150 years in the upland streams, until it’s time to head back to the ocean with her million eggs and swim 2000 miles to her spawning ground, where she dies and her body provides the nutrients for her progeny, which make their way back to the rivers of New Zealand. The female longfins that are coming downriver today are encountering hydroelectric dams that were built in the 1930s, after the eels had made it up to the high country. The fast-spinning turbine blades are deadly to the adult eels that can grow to 5 feet long and 50-plus pounds.

John Wilkie and Pauline Reid, two of our Maori hosts during the Winnemems’ visit last year, head up the Waitaki Native Fish Committee which works to trap the adult eels above the dams and release them safely below, so they can continue their journey to the sea. The Trap and Transfer team also works on ways to help the adolescent eels to get above the dams, as they head upstream in fulfilling their irrepressible goal of getting to the high country.

The members of the team, with the support of Meridian Energy, which pays for the program under treaty obligations, generously allowed me to tag along on one of their weeklong operations along the waterways of the South Island. Here’s a short clip in which John talks about one of the Longfins they are about to release to continue her journey to the sea.

Saving the Longfin Eel from Moving Image on Vimeo.

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The Project Continues

Much has happened since the last entry. Here’s the first of a few entries in an effort to bring things up to date.

In February of this year, I created a 7 minute trailer for the Dancing Salmon Home documentary project.

It’s similar to the 15 minute promo above, with some of the same footage and other material as well. From an editing standpoint, I actually prefer this version; it’s tighter and the introductory segment is better.

Dancing Salmon Home-Trailer, 6 min. from Moving Image on Vimeo.

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