“Handed down from my people was a story that the only duty left to us from the ancient ones was the duty of prayer, so, I became a prayer person.”
Agnes Pilgrim, From the Great Forests of the American Northwest
It is exciting to be making history by venturing into the world praying to make a difference. Yet there are still many things that I don’t talk about as I’m afraid the Creator will quit helping me. In the beginning my people could become invisible, shape change, and talk to the animals. I believe what happened is they began to abuse their gift so the Creator stripped it from them. So, I try to be careful.
I travel to a lot of different lands being a “voice for the voiceless.” All things created need a voice. I am called to pray for the Bengal tigers, for animals in Africa, for wolves, for salmon, and for the Ganges River in India. I went to Australia to pray for the Murry Darling River and its pollutions. I prayed for the Condors and now they are coming back after being gone for over 200 years from Oregon.
My tribe sends me to areas that need prayer or blessings. They send me to christen a ship, to burial places, to testify for monuments, and to fight for special plant life. I’ve been called to lead prayers to stop clear-cut logging and to lobby in Washington D.C. to save our Siskiyou Monument here in Oregon which has plant life that grows nowhere else in the world. So far we’ve succeeded. We will continue to struggle to save some of our beautiful spiritual places. The prayers will help.
I’m the oldest living female left of the Rogue River Indians who lived in Southern Oregon for over 20,000 years. As a registered member of my tribe, The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians for many, many years I have served on tribal committees always fighting for cultural and traditional improvements. My children and I are all traditional First Nation natives and we “walk our talk.” I’ve been at death’s door, I have survived cancer since 1982. I asked my Creator to let me live because my family needs me and I’ve got a lot to do. I said if you let me live I’ll keep busy the rest of my life. And I’m certainly doing that!
Years ago when I was about forty-five, I experienced a restlessness. This sensation was not only present in my waking hours but also in the dream time. There was a force pulling me toward a spiritual path. I was told to cleanse my inner-self. Ultimately, I did what I call a “dying to self.” But first I fought this inner-calling, thinking I wasn’t worthy to do it. Looking back, however, I can see where I began to change. I started to fly around and I went to all my six children and asked them to forgive me for any hurts I caused them. I asked them to voice anything they wanted to me. I told them how much I loved them and that I would pray for them. I know I made mistakes as a parent – there wasn’t any parent school to go to.
Yet I still hadn’t committed myself to walk this “spiritual” path. I was still arguing to my Creator. Finally one day my friend, who is a psychiatrist, told me to stop fighting this path and resign myself and just do it. So, I did. It was like a big load was lifted off of me.
Handed down from my people was a story that the only duty left to us from the ancient ones was the duty of prayer, so, I became a prayer person. The Creator has answered many, many prayers and I giving blessings for allowing me to be a mediator.
Prayer is needed throughout the World. It is time we step forward and join prayers with people around the globe. Together we can stop the abuse of women and the molestation of children, hunger, overgrazing, protection for our medicinal plants, and drug abuse. We can join together no matter what our religious or spiritual beliefs are. We can join together and fight to save our Earth Mother and salvage our own existence.
It is time to take action now if we want to help. We need not for one moment, limit ourselves about what we can do. We must give support and encouragement to each other and to whomever we meet on our path. Love people unconditionally and add their voices and prayers to ours. People need to be encouraged to use their voice. The Creator will hear our cries and turn the dark side around and speak to the terrorists. Together we can make a difference.
Yes, we have a lot of work to do to have harmony and peace. We have many goals set before us but we can accomplish them by working together. Together we have gifts to bring by teaching what is sacred. We are all in this “leaky canoe” together so we need to be a united force to be reckoned with and we will keep on keeping on until our “hearts are on the ground”
Walk in beauty
Source: World Pulse Magazine
From a story about the 13 Grandmother’s Council in the second issue, p. 37.
Agnes Emma was the seventh of nine children born to George Wentworth Baker and Eveline Lydia Harney Baker on September 11, 1924 in Lodgson, Oregon, on a tribal allotment near the headwaters of the Siletz River. The midwife was her mother’s mother, Elizabeth Juliana Tole Harney.
Aggie grew up close to the Earth with her brothers and sisters, gathering greens, picking blackberries and apples, riding horses, fishing and gardening: "At first we were given four plants to take care of. When I was old enough to go to school, I was responsible for four rows." Her family lived without electricity. They had chickens, milk cows, sheep, longhorn cattle and horses, canned lots of fruit every fall, and there were plenty of eels in the creek, so they never went hungry. Remembering the sounds of her family talking and laughing around the kitchen table always makes her happy. The Takelma language was spoken in her home, but not encouraged outside it. Always independent, as a teenager Aggie insisted on dancing traditionally in her buckskin dress, even though this was banned by her Catholic church. She graduated from Taft High School in Lincoln City, Oregon in 1942, where she played six string guitar, piano, and organ.
Over the next years she pursued a wide variety of careers, including hiking far into the woods to gather cascara bark and other wild plants, singing in a band, being a bouncer at a nightclub and a barber in a jail, driving a log truck and setting chokers for the logging of old-growth trees, racing stockcars, working as a scrub nurse at a hospital and managing a restaurant. She also fished a lot, and hunted deer and elk. During this time she was married three times and had three sons and three daughters, so that she now has 18 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.
Around 1970 she made a major shift in her life, deciding to finally take on the spiritual path that she had always felt calling her, and taking on the medicine name of her Takelma great-grandmother, “Taowhywee,” or Morningstar. Please read the story, From Grandma Aggie, for her description of the changes that took place at this time.
From 1974 to 1989 Aggie worked as a manager and counselor at the United Indian Lodge in Crescent City, California. One main focus was alcohol-related problems, prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation. Another focus was helping the children of poor families. During this time she also received criminal justice training. In the early 1980’s she was asked to join the Cultural Heritage and Sacred Lands Committee of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. She enrolled in Southern Oregon State College, where she joined the Omicron Delta Kappa sorority, majored in Psychology with a minor in Native American Studies, and graduated with a B.A. in 1985.