Monday, October 27, 2008


Agnes Baker Pilgrim - Mapia - June 2005
Agness Baker Pilgrim at the 2005 Santo Daime celebration for the 80th birthday of Madrinha Rita in Amazônia (more photos here).

Taowhywee or Agness Baker Pilgrim or just "Grandma Aggie", as she is known to many in southern Oregon, is the oldest remaining ancestor of the first peoples of the region. Honored as a “Living Treasure” by her tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, and as a “Living Cultural Legend” by the Oregon Council of the Arts, she has dedicated her life to presenting the culture and wisdom of native ways. Truly, her good works and her eloquence have earned her the title of being "A Voice for the Voiceless".

[Update: There's a lot of great material about Grandma Aggie's Sacred Ceremonies at the website of storyteller Thomas Doty.]

In addition to her many local activities, Grandma Aggie is a founding member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers which includes elders from all over the world -- the Arctic Circle, North, South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. The Council was formed in 2004 and nowadays it convenes every six months as the Grandmothers travel the world to each other's homelands to cultivate their unified prayer for peace and care for Mother Earth. In 2006 the Grandmothers traveled to Dharamsala, India to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with other luminaries in the Tibetan religious government in exile.

Grandmothers' Council_Barcelona_2008
Grandmothers in Barcelona 2008. See all the photos here.

According to Robert Brothers and Julie Norman, who assist Grandma Aggie, "In July [2008] she traveled to Spain and Italy with the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers' Council. In Rome they visited the Vatican, to urge the Pope to rescind the dreadful 1493 Papal edict that was used to justify the confiscation of Native lands around the world." (see Letter to the Pope.)

"When the thirteen Grandmothers set up their altar in front of the Vatican and began to pray, guards told them to stop. Then a higher official arrived, who confirmed that the Grandmothers had permission and allowed the prayers to proceed. In the hubbub, Grandmother Aggie was interviewed by media people who had gathered around, and the story traveled fast and far."

Grandmothers at the Vatican 2008

Upon her return to Oregon Agnes was interviewed by INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY'S Rob Capriccioso:

ICT: Do you think the pope will ultimately rescind the negative papal bulls?

Baker Pilgrim:
We feel that there will be a time. We will get something from him. He will rescind those edicts and give us all equality around the world.

ICT: Why do you think the message of the grandmas is so powerful?

Baker Pilgrim:
Because we grandmothers are coming together. We know that just because you're gray-headed, you don't need to go to pasture. ... I have visions of seeing women all over the world empowering themselves and holding prestigious roles. Women are natural nurturers and they will step forward all over the world. And it's happening. Move over, men. It is time for the natural nurturers to get this world back in balance.

ICT: Is it ever hard when 13 strong women get together - do you ever have arguments after spending so much time together?

Baker Pilgrim:
[Laughs] Well, sometimes the darkness tries to creep up on the table. And I'm the prayer person, so I'll say, ''OK, let's stop - let's remind ourselves that we're spiritual grandmothers.'' And I pray to keep the darkness back.

ICT: Do you think about your own longevity - in terms of how long you can keep doing all this?

Baker Pilgrim:
Getting old isn't for wimps. You've got to be tough. When something hits your body, you have to bounce back up through the power of the mind. I've chosen. I want to live. And I've got a lot of things left to do yet.

(read full interview)

Agnes Baker Pilgrim celebrated her 84th birthday last month. We send good vibes of hugs and blessings and pray that the Creator will bless all of us with many more years of strength and good health for our dear Grandma Aggie.

[Note: Having devoted her life to good works, Agnes has no "safety net" other than the network of her supporters. If you would like to be one of her "helpers" just click on this DONATE button.]

1 comment:

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