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The Commons: Create First Nations Day

<em>Edit Article</em> The Commons: Create First Nations Day

Illustration Credit: The Nine First Nations of Oregon by Richard Sheppard, A Concept for a First Nations Day Memorial at Ti'lomikh Falls, Oregon.

Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim, 91, was about to fly to Amsterdam and then on to Africa with her International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, so I knew the oldest living Takelma Indian was about to be feted, celebrated, loved, respected, and honored as she and her compatriots continued their journey of blessings around the world. I also knew Grandma Aggie had recently done some blessings in Australia, and got to fly business class and stay in a fancy villa. So I teased her about it. “Not a bad gig for a girl from the res.”She didn’t laugh. Something was up.“So, Grandma,” I asked, “What do you really want?”“Equality and justice, which I’ve never had.”“What do you mean?”“If you were an indigenous person, you would understand.”The disgust in her normally gentle voice hit hard, reminding me of the terrible gulf between our core experiences of the world. She was a girl from the res. Her grandparents survived genocide in what is now my backyard. She grew up under apartheid on a reservation that continued to shrink until, for a time, our Congress abolished her homeland altogether. As a child, she couldn’t …

About the Author

Stephen Kiesling

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, co-creator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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IndigenousHistoryChangePeaceNative American

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