Writings by Grandma Aggie
This quote by Grandma Aggie explains her motivation to shift her focus to a more spiritual path in the 1970s:
the ancient ones was the duty of prayer, so I became a prayer person.”
25 nuggets of wisdom presented by Grandma Aggie in her 2015 autobiographical audiobook, Grandma Says: Wake Up World (Blackstone Publishing), summarized by Tish McFadden, author of the Upriver to Morning youth education package. Download the PDF here.
Grandma Aggie shared these words of wisdom with Native American students attending the Konaway Nika Tillicum (“all my relations”) Youth Academy at Southern Oregon University. Agnes helped found this summer academy after earning a B.A. degree in Psychology and Native American Studies from SOU at age 61.
We must walk a good path in a good way.
We must walk through the house of doors, our minds, seeking understanding.
We must look into our hearts for knowledge of Spirit.
We must listen well to others and honor all teachings.
We must stand proud and walk humbly, in purpose and balance.
We must have forgiving hearts.
We must be strong in ourselves, so we can be strong for each other.
We must give encourgement and support, each to the other.
We must honor the elders and ancient ones who carry the wisdom.
We must honor and guide the young who promise the light.
We must honor the women who bear and nurture life.
We must honor the men who protect and feed the people.
We must walk together with the Creator.
For in the beginnings of the world,
we were one people, one family, one Creation.
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
(Article courtesy World Pulse Magazine, 2005 – from a story about the 13 Grandmother’s Council in the 2nd issue, p. 37.)
My native name is Taowhywee, yet that isn’t what explains who I am. It’s all those thousands and thousands of ancestors before me, that speak through me at times like this, that make me who I am. I have not forgotten the ancient ones that traveled this land for over fifteen thousand years.
I was told by the old ones that in the beginning the Creator built all the mountains and the rivers, put all the dirt in the land, and built all the mighty waters.
When He turned around and created us, the two-leggeds, He said, “I will also give you a brain. And with that brain, I’ll give you the power to reason. And with that power to reason, you are to take care of everything I have created before you in moderation and in balance.”
Then He turned and handed us the Four Chiefs: Land, Air, Water, and Fire. And He said, “You take these, and I will teach you how to use them. I will teach you how to do these things in moderation, so you will not destroy your world. When you go forward with these Four Chiefs, use them in a good way.”
So with this powerful brain and this right to reason, what did we do? We’re destroying those Four Chiefs.
We quit the cool burnings. My people did the cool burnings underneath the trees. The women in my tribe did that. They knew the parameters. They knew the seasons. They knew how often to do the burnings. Yet you go out there now, you see all the underbrush. And when the lightning strikes, it’s just like pouring gasoline to it, isn’t it? It’s because there’s no more cool burnings.
The deer are getting smaller. When I was young, during the depression years, the deer were big. Now they’re getting smaller. The ones you see along the highway look like jackrabbits now, because there’s no cool burnings.
When I was young, we picked wild blackberries, great big things with small leaves. Now the leaves are big and the berries are small, and they’re very dear. You can hardly see them much anymore. We walked away from the cool burnings.
We are not separated from the sky, the earth, the ground, the mountain, the rock, and the swimmers in the waters. We are not separate. We are connected. We are a chain. And we are that voice to all of those things that sustain our lives.
But there is spiritual blindness. At sacred places all over this country, people are building big antennas and things on top of sacred mountains, never caring about their spirituality at all. This is what’s frightening me about people today, that spiritual blindness.
I’d like to give you talented people something to think about today, some panavision! Get away from this mice vision. Get away from just seeing through a tunnel. Look at the bigger view. Be a voice.
Out there in the hail and the rain, my husband and I have been singing and praying to the forest people and to all that live in the ecosystem. We tell them, “We hear you. We’re here to pray that you will not be cut down and destroyed.”
Everything that you walk amongst out there is sacred. I dance in my sacred clothes. I dance a sacred song. I dance in a sacred voice. I dance in a sacred circle. I dance my sacred path, giving thanks to our Mother Earth for all the things I have on my back, because it came through Her.
We are unique. We are the precious creations of the Creator. With this mind, He gave us the power to reason and stop the spiritual blindness, so there would be some beauty and some thought for my children and my children’s children… so they would not have to experience this spiritual blindness.
The salmon has a right to swim. The whale, the eel, the crab, and our feathered families have a right to nesting grounds and a way of life. They have a right for just being! And it is up to us to walk out there with our message and stop this spiritual blindness. Right?
This is why I honor Chant Thomas and the committee at Headwaters for their endeavors and hard work year after year… for their voices and their messages. They run parallel with mine.
I care. I have this voice, and I thank the Creator. Yes, let me live a long time, so I can be a voice for those things which cannot speak… because a tree cannot write a letter, a bear can’t answer the phone, and a deer can’t run a computer. Allow me to be this voice! Allow me to speak of their rights, their spirituality, and why they’re here.
This is our natural world. And it is time that we start doing something about it and be proud of our inheritance… our right and our privilege to walk in beauty. It should be this way all over in the hearts of people all over the country.
And we should always speak and pray for the people in the big timber conglomerates like MacMillan-Blodel up there in Canada and Boise-Cascade. I’ve talked to these people. There’s got to be a better way. We understand the tree people as a renewable resource. We understand that. But we have to find a better balance in the ways of growing and taking away our forests.
So we have to speak out if somebody is going to build a road and do some logging in our community. You’ve got a voice to be able to say, “Do we need another road? Do we need to cut all these trees? Why ship them to Japan and then buy them back? Why can’t we make a product right here and put our people to work? You know, why can’t we? Aren’t we big enough? Aren’t we smart enough?”
We’ve got to stop this spiritual blindness and learn that everything is sacred to us. This buckskin skirt I wear is sacred to me. Even though he’s gone, the spirit of the deer walks with me. My basket cap from the tree people walks with me in spirit. The swimmers in the water are sacred, and their spirit walks with me. They’re sacred, and I know where they come from. Everybody should care and give praise to a building like this from the tree people, to give thanks. When you cook your meal on the wood stove, give thanks to the tree people and the warmth. Be that voice.
Everything you hear should not stay here. It should be flowing into the community you go back to. Stop the spiritual blindness.
There’s many places, like the rock cairns up in the mountains, to go up and talk to the Creator. Reconnect yourselves! We’re not separate from the tree, the rock, the river, the ocean, the whale, and the wolf. We’ re not divided. We are that link. We are part of that fabric. Stop the spiritual blindness.
And I pray that you will remember everything that you hear at this conference about what is happening around our world. Our sacred places are slowly being destroyed. And I think if we keep up the destruction, the Creator will say, “I handed you the Four Chiefs, and you destroyed them, so I’ll destroy you.” Do we have a chance to come back and balance ourselves and do a better thing with our Mother Earth?
I don’t care where you come from. I don’t care what walk of life you live. You have a voice. You have an obligation, a responsibility to fight for our Mother Earth. No matter where you are, you don’t have to wait until you come here to Headwaters. Do like I do. I’m like Johnny Appleseed, all over the country, reaching out to whoever will listen.
And I’d like to close with a little saying from John Colter, who wrote this in 1947: “We have lost that passion and reverence for human personality, the web of life, and the Earth, which the American Indians tended as central and sacred, since time immemorial. Our long hope is to renew that sacred fire in us all.”
To renew it is our only hope, because this land is a holy place.
Thank you very, very much.