Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Agnes Baker Pilgrim – Takelma


"Everyday, I thank God that I have been able to do the things I do ... and to walk my talk. Do it right, because you only got one time to walk this earth. Make it good, make it a good thing."

Refresh for Current Content



Takelma elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim, known as Grandma Aggie, was a registered member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and granddaughter of Chief George Harney, the first elected chief of the Siletz Nation. She was born on September 11, 1924 near the headwaters of the Siletz River at Logsden, Oregon.

An alumni of Southern Oregon University, and a lifetime member of Amacron Delta Kappa, Grandma Aggie received numerous awards worldwide for her work as a cultural instructor, mentor, historian, role model, and a "voice for the voiceless." She spoke to audiences across the globe and met with international dignitaries including the Dalai Lama and President Barack Obama. She was honored as a "Living Treasure" by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and as a "Living Cultural Legend" by the Oregon Council of the Arts.

In 2016, Grandma Aggie published a book and audiobook: Grandma Says: Wake Up, World! The Wisdom, Wit, Advice, and Stories of Grandma Aggie. Here she shared the teachings of her people and implored us to connect more deeply with the earth and each other. Those teachings became the inspiration for Upriver to Morning, Tish McFadden's new native story.

For many years, Agnes Baker Pilgrim served as chairperson of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. In 2019, she was awarded the President's Medal by Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott.

Throughout her long life, Grandma Aggie was active internationally. She was a highly sought-after speaker and renowned spiritual elder the world over. Based in southern Oregon, she shared her universal life wisdom with all ages.

Agnes Baker Pilgrim passed away on November 27, 2019 at age 95.

International Council of
Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers


In 2004, Agnes was invited by the Center for Sacred Studies to be part of the newly formed International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, whose goal is to heal the earth and promote world peace. She served as chairperson for many years.

"We grandmothers have come from far and wide to speak the knowledge we hold inside. In many languages we have been told it is time to make the right changes for our families, for the lands we love. We can be the voice for the voiceless. We are at the threshold. We are going to see change. If we can create the vision in our heart, it will spread. As bringers of light, we have no choice but to join together. As women of wisdom we cannot be divided. When the condor meets the eagle -- thunderbirds come home."

"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.'"

The President's Medal

Photo. Photo.

On August 14, 2019, Grandma Aggie was awarded the President's Medal by Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott. The medal recognizes individuals who by their service and actions have made a significant and lasting impact on the university. This award is reserved for those whose service to the university, the region, and the greater community represent such qualities as compassion, integrity, and service. The President's Medal is the university's highest honor.

Thank you, Southern Oregon University, for bringing us together today to celebrate and honor the generous heart and service of Grandma Aggie. Yes, "It's all about love." – Tish McFadden

Sacred Salmon Ceremony


For many years, Grandma Aggie was Keeper of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony, held annually on the riverbanks of the Applegate and the Rogue.

Salmon Nation Radio


In 2016, Grandma Aggie, Thomas Doty and Stephen Kiesling were interviewed by Alex Chadwick about the Sacred Salmon Ceremony. The Public Radio series was produced by Katie Davis.

Listen to Audio

Grandma Aggie's 95th Birthday Party


On September 11, 2019, Aggie's friends gathered along the Rogue River to celebrate her birthday. The party took place at Ti'lomikh, home of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony.

View Photos (PDF)

Tish McFadden Interviews Grandma Aggie


In June and October of 2019, Tish McFadden interviewed Takelma elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim on the banks of the Rogue River.

Watch Videos

Takelma Pit House


Takelma elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim describes a Takelma Pit House built in 1999 behind the Kerbyville Museum in Kerby, Oregon.

Watch Video

Agnes Baker Pilgrim and Her Art


In 2008, Julie Norman filmed Grandma Aggie sharing her art with 2nd grade students in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Watch Video

Grant & Aggie Singing


Grandma Aggie's husband Grant was a well-known Yurok drummer and singer. Here's are two recordings from the 1990s.

Listen to Audio

Dead Man


Here's Agnes Baker Pilgrim in a scene from the 1995 Jim Jarmusch film, Dead Man. Much of the film was shot in southern Oregon. Grandma Aggie loved telling stories about being on the set with Johnny Depp. "He was really nice," she said. "He was always bringing me a blanket or a cup of tea."