Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum set to reopen June 24, fish hatchery to remain closed

Staff reports
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers
Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum

The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum will reopen to the public on June 24, although the fish hatchery will remain closed.

Because of the pandemic, the public has not seen the first year of the museum’s new exhibit, “Water: Shasta’s Liquid Gold.”

During its three-year span, the exhibit will explore the story of water in the Mt. Shasta area; its natural and human history.  In 2021, the history of water will be told, with present-day stories coming in 2022, and projections about the future of water coming in 2023.

The different approaches to water from a nature-based society and a commodity-based society will be explored in this first year.  According to the museum, research revealed the conflicts between the First People and the European miners and settlers.  As Julie Cassidy, local archaeologist summarized “Local tribes around Mount Shasta did not possess water or view it as a commodity.  It was where they lived, part of their livelihood, and considered sacred.”  

Shasta Tribal Elder, Betty Hall and her family visit a tribal site of a Rain Rock on the Klamath River. Local tribes believed that through ceremony, prayer, and the action of pounding pits into rocks, rain would come. The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum’s “Liquid Gold” exhibit tells these stories and more.

The First People in this area closely identified with water, and they lived in streamside areas, some of the richest ecosystems on eEarth. Some local tribal names mirrored the central importance of water to them; the Pit River Tribe, known as Ajumawi, means “River People,” and the Winnemem Wintu means “Middle Water People.”  Frank LaPena, a Wintu expressed this, “The earth is a living thing – its breath is the wind, its veins the rivers.”  

The Shasta Tribe believe that springs on Mount Shasta are the footsteps of the Creator Waka. Wherever Waka set down his feet while creating Mount Shasta, springs came to life, so all the springs are sacred.  “This theme of water as a gift from the Creator and for everyone to take care of water is still present in our culture,” said Mary Carpelan of the Shasta Tribe.

The discovery of gold in Northern Siskiyou County brought disaster for the Tribes.  As Joaquin Miller wrote in 1873, “The rivers ran dark and sullen with sand and slime.  The fishes turned on their sides and died.”  Mining had polluted the rivers and when this valuable resource was gone, the First People faced starvation.

When the Baird Hatchery started capturing McCloud River salmon, the Winnemem Wintu tribe protested.  This fish was important to their survival.  Finally, it was agreed that the hatchery could capture the salmon for the eggs, but the fish would belong to the Wintu.

The first European settlers saw the water resources, the springs, rivers, and lakes as something to be used for profit.  The many ways this happened included mining, lumber production, agriculture, fishing, and building of resorts.  

More:COVID-19 in Siskiyou: 32% are vaccinated, public health aims for 60%

Sisson Museum open, fish hatchery to remain closed

After Governor Newsom said the State of California can fully re-open, the Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed to let Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum open its doors to the public, starting 10 a.m. on June 24. The State of California owns the property and the historic museum building. The fish hatchery remains closed.

All museum workers are vaccinated. Before resuming work on-site, all volunteers will be trained on the museum's COVID-19 safety protocols.  To help visitors feel safe, the docents will wear masks.  Guests will be asked to wear a mask if they have not been vaccinated.

Handwashing will be emphasized, and there will be reminders to keep a social distansix feet in the museum.  Two air-purifiers with Hepa filters have been purchased and installed.  

There will be no events or tours until further control of the COVID-19 virus is achieved.

Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum hours

Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum will be open Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Check the website at www.mtshastamuseum.com, go to the museum’s Facebook page, or call the museum (530-926-5508) for more details.  The Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum is a tax-exempt non-profit organization.