Our story starts with the rescue of a wild little mountain goat who would not be tamed. Her name was Shanti, which means Peace in Sanskrit. After being taken from her mother as a baby she was left to fend for herself on pasture and imprinted on a horse, her only companion. Two years on, after her owners had failed to sell her as a milking goat for being too hard to handle, they were planning on sending her to slaughter. When our founder Lara heard about this animal at risk for being "too wild", she offered to adopt her instead. Six months later she came across a wild horse (a mustang) called Storm, who was named for her volatile and untameable temperament, and was also at imminent risk of slaughter. Storm had been rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2001 as a yearling, and sold at auction to be bred for profit, before being given to a man who was now going to jail for having injured several horses. On the day of her rescue she was being handed off to a kill buyer when that exchange was intercepted and she was taken to safety. Storm and Shanti became instant companions.
In December 2016, while living in Ashland, OR, Lara met Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, a Native Takelma elder and the oldest founding member of The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, after she had organized a benefit to support her work. On the day after the event Lara met with Grandma Aggie, as she was affectionately known, who asked her about the animals she was caring for. On hearing Storm's story and about the removal of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros from public lands by the BLM, only to be incarcerated for life in barren, disease-ridden corrals or shipped across the US border to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, Grandma Aggie was deeply moved. She remarked on how this atrocity reminded her of the many brutalities her own people had faced, along with many Native people all over the world, and offered to give Storm a spiritual blessing for her safe protection. She urged Lara to continue her work as a "healing person" and a "voice for the voiceless", and encouraged her to trust that she would be guided along the way.
In December 2019, Shanti was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and three months later she died in Lara's arms in a snow-covered meadow. Three days after her passing her body was carried up to Mary's Peak, the highest mountain in the Oregon Coast Range, known by the Native Kalapuya people as "Tcha Timanwi" or "place of spiritual power", and given a ceremonial sky burial to contribute to the circle of life. The following day the entire area was closed to visitors for three months, along with every state and national park across the US, in response to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Soon after, a series of unexpected and synchronistic events led Lara to relocate to the central Oregon coast with Storm, and offer sanctuary to two wild burros, one of whom had sustained several injuries from a negligent TIP trainer, and a local domestic donkey suffering neglect and sick with cancer. As the Wild Peace herd began to form, the seed of a vision began to take root, one of bringing animals, people, and the land together to heal.
In spring 2020, Lara moved to an overgrown and degraded property with the Wild Peace herd where she set to work restoring the land with the help of the animals. Over two winters and summers they cleared and restored multiple acres, making mountains of compost from organic debris from the land mixed with manure. By spring 2022, Lara was donating compost to several food sovereignty projects, including The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (CTSI). Shortly after agreeing to supply compost for the Tribe's newly purchased 40 acre farm, Lara learned that Grandma Aggie, who had passed away in 2019, was the grand-daughter of the first ever elected chief of the Siletz Tribe. In this full circle moment, she remembered the day seven years before when Grandma Aggie had blessed Storm and shared her words of encouragement, and realized then that she had indeed been guided, to this place and to this vision, and was being guided still, by "everybody's grandmother", albeit from the other side.
Since that time, Wild Peace Sanctuary has completed two further restoration projects on neighboring properties and continues to supply compost to the Siletz Tribe, the native plant and pollinator project organized by Concerned Citizens for Clean Air, and others. We are committed to working with regenerative practices and do not use chemicals or machines powered by fossil fuels or lithium batteries that rely on polluting extractive industrial practices, as our aim is to demonstrate ways to restore and maintain ecological balance without supporting the industrialized systems that are destroying our planet. Our developing program of workshops and events is focused on teaching sustainable and harmonious ways of living, and we are doing what we can to raise awareness of the plight of the wild equines as a symbol for all wild animals and wild lands in peril. Ultimately, we hope to encourage others to adopt similar practices to contribute toward holistic healing in the world, to become voices for the voiceless, and to learn to trust that we are all of us being guided, through these deeply troubled times.
This story, and the photographs below, are shared with permission,
and a blessing, from Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim's family.
Wild Peace Sanctuary founder, Lara Lwin Treadaway with Grandma Aggie
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim blessing
Storm in December 2016, in Ashland, OR
The land that Wild Peace Sanctuary calls home was the traditional hunting ground of the Wusitslum/Älsé (Alsea) people. In respect for the original people of this land, and acknowledgment of the ongoing harms from settler culture, please follow the link below to read more on the history of this place.
“Handed down from my people was a story that the only duty
left to us from the ancient ones was the duty of
prayer, so I became a prayer person.”
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim