Collective Project ~ YP Learning Journey
The participants in the Youth Passageways Ancestor Quilt project include Wendy Kass, Julia Hitchcock, Darcy Ottey, Kruti Parekh, Ann Hackney, Dane Zahorsky, Sobey Wing, Ramon Parish, Maryjane Marcus, Cameron Withey, Amanda Canty, Pegi Eyers, Gabriel Keczan and Adrionna Fey. The "Quilt Squares" of our Learning Journey that depict objects or images of heritage, place and origins, are shown below.
This is a picture of my grandfather Charlie and my father Barry in Queens, NY, circa 1947. My grandfather is goofing off, using my father's head as a tee. He died just a few years later, when my father was 11. Barry died in 1991. They have recently shown up for me as strong ancestral allies - showing up as a beaming unit.
For the ancestor altar I send this picture of a cross-stitched pillow made by my maternal (all the way) great-grandmother and namesake, Julija Eidimanis. I grew up with this pillow and others made by her - this one is my favourite. In the last few years as I have been journeying mostly on my own learning about my ancestry and the names of the moon at different times of year, I found a Latvian diagram shaped like the orange sun on this pillow. The four cardinal directions, the four seasons, the two solstices, two equinoxes, the holy-days that fall evenly between those 4, making 8 sacred times on the circle of the year.
This is an image from my 2016 Ancestral Pilgrimage.
This is the altar I use at home.
My Ancestor Wall.
This is my Great Great Grandfather Michael Zahorsky after whom I'm named. He was born in Hungary in 1867 to yet another Michael Zahorsky and Elenora Muller. The elder Michael was born in Hungary in 1839 to (wait for it) Fridericus “Fred” Zahorsky and Cathrina Muller; his wife Elenora was born in Hungary in 1840 to Michaelis Muller and Anna Maria Saltzer. [Note: the Kingdom of Hungary included present-day Slovakia until 1918.) Next to him is his wife Mary A. “Mamie” Kruse: She was born in Cass County, Illinois in 1879 to Henry Kruse and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Baujan. Henry was born in Illinois in 1851 to Franz Henri Dierk Kruse and Hiske J. Miller, both of Germany; his wife Lizzie was born in 1853 in Arenzville, Illinois to Joseph Baujan and Helena Synkenrodt, both also of Germany.
This is my ancestor altar.
Pictured here is my maternal Great Grandfather Fred Montgomery Sr. and his mother (my Great, Great- Grandmother!) who I think is named Mary. I am not sure when this picture was taken but it is the oldest picture from my mother's side of the family. It had been on my Aunt's wall every since I can remember. I knew Fred briefly in my childhood as "Pa Pa". He used to sit up on the porch in his rocking chair, smoking his pipe, overlooking the neighborhood from my grandmother's house in St. Louis. Seemed like every sentence he spoke began with a "Well....."
Discovering how loved I am, by recently discovered relatives in the mountains of Greece.
This book was written by my great-great-grandmother, Edith Sanderson Redfield, about her experience of the early days of the city of Seattle. She arrived here as a young woman with her parents in 1869, and a couple lines of my family have lived in and around Seattle since. To me this book is a treasured record of some of my ancestor's lives, a symbol of my family's relatively long history in this place that I love, and a window into and symbol of the local history of colonization by which I came to be here. Even more symbolically, this particular version of the book is the product of a local real estate company's appropriation of my great-great-grandmother's writing for the celebration of their 100th year in business. The name of the white man CEO of that company is more prominently featured on the cover, and his picture is the one on the back. With all the messy symbolism, inherited memory, and personal longing, I thought it would be appropriate on the altar for this journey.
This is an image of my grandmother Ida B. Canty who was born in 1914 and remembers marching with Martin Luther King and all in the civil rights era. She is a woman who has never worn pants in her entire life and never leaves the house with her hair undone. Her family and my ancestors lived on slave plantations in the Carolinas for years and years back. I don't know too much as she is now getting to the point where she is too old to want to speak anymore. So I begin at the age of 30 - diving into my history and putting all the pieces together from what she has given me.
My contribution to the Learning Journey Ancestor Quilt is a mixed-media painting I finished a couple of years ago to honor my matriarchal Ancestor Eliza Bailey. “The first white child to arrive in the village came in the arms of the Chippewas.” (The Orillia Spirit: An Illustrated History of Orillia by Randy Richmond) During the time of the settlement of Orillia, Ontario, Canada by Settler-Colonization in 1832, a newborn baby of Scottish parents (my third great-grandmother) was on a boat that capsized in the waters known today as “The Narrows” at Lake Couchiching. She was rescued from the channel and brought safely to shore by a kind member of the Chippewa (Ojibway) Nation. As part of the immigrant wave that engulfed a pristine wilderness, the flourishing of Eliza Emily Bailey and her family has given me the haunting legacy of her miraculous rescue, and my deep roots in the Orillia landscape. Her story reminds us that the first contact Settler Society were welcomed, integrated and dependent upon First Nations everywhere, who freely gave us gifts of land, food, medicine and our very lives. Their generosity and kindness is woven into the heritage fabric of our families and communities. Even the structure of Canada owes a great collective debt to the first peaceful treaty agreements between native and non-native leaders, and to the partnership model of Indigenous diplomacy that contributed to our first constitutions and laws.
This is an image from my childhood in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, Haudenosaunee / Anishnabe turf. The mid to late 1980s. The boy is me. My Dad, Les, is standing beside me and my (Grampa) Nepapa Laszlo (Louis) Keczan. Nepapa arrived on the Eastern shores of Turtle island in April 1929 from Nyirondony, Hungary. The name he provided for the nearest relative from where he came was "father Osazlo Keczan Szabolos megye Nirondony." He could read, was listed as a "farmer" and had $25 in his pocket. The people I came from on my paternal side are "Magyar Orsag" (Hungarian people). Thanks to my Auntie Mary Ebos for this info.
In the Irish tradition the Western wall is the wall to the otherworld, and placing items, instruments, and books of the dead there enable them to access them in death. When playing music I play for my ancestors.
Pegi Eyers is the author of "Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community," an award-winning book that explores strategies for intercultural competency, healing our relationships with Turtle Island First Nations, uncolonization, recovering an ecocentric worldview, rewilding, creating a sustainable future and reclaiming peaceful co-existence in Earth Community.
Available from Stone Circle Press or Amazon