Life in Ashland

Life in Ashland

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Remembering a People

Last week, there was a gathering around the wood totem where Lithia Way and North Main St. merge. The sculpture honoring Native peoples of the Rogue Valley was installed on that corner in 2006.  Soon, it will be moved Southern Oregon University, where it will be displayed in Hannon Library.  The piece was carved by local artist Russell Beebe and commissioned by attorney Lloyd Haines and features the likeness of Takelma American Indian elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim and a child, fish, birds and animals.  A bronze replica of the totem will be erected in its place.

The totem, while erected as a tribute honoring local Native peoples, also serves as a reminder of one of the darkest and most regrettable aspects of Oregon and American history.  During the settlement of the Rogue Valley in the 1800's by white people, native people who had inhabited this area for generations were killed or displaced.  A few descendants remain, but nearly all traces of their history are gone.

Artist Russell Beebe and Lloyd Haines escort Agnes Baker Pilgrim around the base of the sculpture during the gathering and ceremony.