At 3 p.m. Thursday, more than a dozen Smith River Rancheria tribal members simultaneously took the plunge into separate frigid watersheds spread across a 40-mile span of their ancestral Tolowa territory, from the Umpqua River basin to Wilson Creek and several places in between.
They were continuing a campaign that started in British Columbia and has spread from tribe to tribe across North America, with some people jumping into holes cut into frozen lakes in Montana, others jumping into the Atlantic.
“I am Kara Miller, Tribal Chair for the Tolowa people of Smith River Rancheria. I am accepting a challenge from Danielle Vigil-Masten, the Hoopa Tribal Chair,” Miller said into the camera, before diving into the breathtaking, jade-tinted water of Rowdy Creek. “She has challenged me in the winter challenge of water rights of indigenous people to jump in the river and show how much water is important to the Tolowa people, and I am accepting that challenge on our behalf.”
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