I’m Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, a registered elder of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and a granddaughter of Chief George Harney, the first elected chief of the Siletz Nation. I live in Grants Pass, Oregon. I came from a family of nine children. I was the third from the last child, born September 11, 1924, near headwaters of the Siletz River at Logsden, Oregon. All of my siblings and parents are all gone and it’s just left me now of my family.
I’m alumni of Southern Oregon University and a lifetime member of Amacron Delta Kappa. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in Native American Studies, a culture instructor to my tribe, my other, Mother Earth, being a voice for the voices trying to prevent spiritual blindness.
On May 27, 2000, I was chosen by my tribe as a living legend and was honored along with other elders throughout the Northwest. I’m an elder mentor of Konaway Nika Tillicum at the Academy for Native American Youth, who live on campus at Southern Oregon University each year at the end of July.
October 19, 2002 I was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award of the years 2002-2003. Also was selected for an Imagine Award by Mediator Works, a Community Dispute Resolution Center of Medford, Oregon on March 9, 2003.
October 11, 2004, at Phoenicia, New York Thirteen International Indigenous Grandmothers formed an alliance, the first time in history. We gathered from the four directions in the land of the people of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Amazon Rain Forest, the Arctic Circle of North America, the Great Forest of the Amazon Northwest, the vast Plains of North America, the Highlands of Central America, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the mountains of Oaxaca, the desert of the American Southwest, and the mountains of Tibet and the Rain Forest of Central Africa. We joined with all those who honor the Creator and to all who work and pray for children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth.
I’ve been traveling the world and I am very concerned about our water. Water is a very precious thing. It is as native people call it, our Mother Earth’s blood. Never in my life did I think I’d grow to this age and have to buy bottled water. To me it’s frightening. I always tell people, “If you would jump in the bathtub and let me throw garbage in with you, you wouldn’t like that.” So I pray that this message will go to all people, to be able to teach their children and their children’s children, not to make a garbage dump out of rivers and streams. We need to start cleaning it up. Those swimmers in the water, have the right to live just the same as anything else.
Without the animal kingdom we are gone so we need to be the caretakers of our Mother Earth and to try to preserve the beautiful path that the Creator gave us to walk upon her. She sustains your life and we need to reciprocate by doing a better thing and keeping the beauty that we have here today so that our seven generations ahead can be able to have what we have here now. We need to work diligently, as I say, I will continue to keep on keeping on until my heart is on the ground, to try to get people to hear, and to try to do a better thing with our Earth Mother, for she sustains our lives.
We need to be able to do all things. We need to be able to walk our path and be able to understand that this was a gift of our Creator to put us on this earth and to breathe into us, each breath, we need to give thanks for our lives. We need to watch out for our animal kingdom that was created before us two-leggeds, and we need to take care of them and be the voice for the voices, for they don’t have a voice, as well as the green upon our Mother Earth. We need to be that voice.
We need to stop spiritual blindness. Our sacred grounds are being destroyed all over the continent. Because we don’t have a steeple in a building called a church, they don’t think these are spiritual places. We need to stop the spiritual blindness and to stand up and be that voice and try to preserve the things that Mother Earth has left here for us, and walk a better path.
I pray that those people out there will hear this message, and be able to try to do a better way for our water, for our air, and try to bring back the cool burnings to our earth so that we won’t have such awful hot fires anymore to clean off on the ground floor, and to put people hands-on back doing this kind of things. It would be, a far better thing for us if we could band together and be able to preserve the beauty that we have here today.
Down here in southern Oregon we have some plant life that grows nowhere else in the world and it needs to be preserved. We’ve already lost so much plant life that it’s frightening. We need to try to preserve our seeds for the future generations ahead.
I want to thank all those that have these words to be able to understand we’re all caretakers. We all need to join together for peace and to support and encourage one another, if we want to be able to stop and think about our women, our grandmothers, they are the natural nurturers of this earth.
I’m very proud to be the chairman of the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers as we journey the world trying to preserve what we have here today and being that voice. I feel very honored to be able to be with the Thirteen Grandmothers from around the world to be able to get our heads of this country, to be able to tell nations all over that we have a right to gather the sacred medicines and end the violence against women and children.