Grant Pilgrim / Yurok from Grants Pass, Oregon
This was one of the first shows completed in the Oyate series and an important one for us. We traveled out to northern California and were running into many roadblocks. Finally, we called a lovely woman in Grants Pass, Oregon, and she said immediately, “Oh, come. I think the Creator must have sent you.” We didn’t hesitate and drove along the Klamath River, over the mountains and arrived in time to have dinner with Grant and Aggie Pilgrim.
Our gracious hosts served a fresh salmon supper and made us welcome. As it turned out, Grant had been very sick, suffering from cancer, and his family knew he would not long be with them. By the time we began recording, the house was filled with relatives there to hear Grant sing.
Grant was a logger, peeler, roofer, traditional fisherman, ran a smokehouse, worked with abalone shells and was, in Aggie’s words, an “all round traditional man.” He had no children but was stepfather to Aggie’s six children. Aggie is a Rogue River Indian of the Takelma Band and is also a psychologist and does traditional crafts.
One month after this trip we received word from Aggie that Grant had passed on. Grant’s passing only underscores the need to shelter and protect this precious cultural reservoir of music and song held by our elders.
The Yurok people lived along the Pacific coast in small, permanent villages in split-plank houses made of redwood. They built along the Lower Klamath River in present-day Oregon and between the current towns of Trinidad and Crescent City, California. Many different tribes prior to the coming of the Europeans populated these coastal lands. The Yurok traded, shared kinship with, and interacted extensively with the Karuk, the Tolowa and other tribes along the rivers and coasts. They all lived off the bounty of the abundant land and waters. Salmon was the main food but they also caught other fish, picked berries, gathered acorns and hunted deer. While they were not a whaling people, they knew what to do should a whale wash up on their beach.
Listen to a sample of the show here
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