Marjorie Buckskin passed away February 21, 2017, in Crescent City, California, following a short illness. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in July 2016 and had finished six weeks of radiation on January 10th. It was during a check up in February, that doctors found the disease had metastasized, attacking her bones, making them weak. She told me that she was to undergo a hysterectomy in the final week of this month.
We were next door neighbors on Redwood Drive in Klamath for nearly five-years. Margie was a foster child who lived with the Babb family. The fact that eight-years separated us in age never occurred to me. Margie, to put it in the simplest terms, was one of the neighborhood kids, which describes my world at the time, so when my parent had their social get-togethers, she was the only ‘kid’ invited.
This used to bug me as I laid awake during these parties and listen as the ‘adults’ talked into the wee-hours of the morning. Looking back, I have a feeling that those gatherings may have been the catalyst for her life’s work as the topic of social change was spoken of often.
Margie, for the most part was quiet and reserved, but she had a laugh that was as loud as it was jolly. Whereas, kids in the neighbor often said they could hear my mom yelling at us kids while they were standing the street, I could hear Margie laughing from the Babb’s family room, while standing in my backyard.
She graduated from Del Norte High School in 1972 and moved away shortly thereafter. I hadn’t seen or spoke to her until I saw a post from a friend on Facebook, calling for emotional support for her in the face of a devastating disease.
Born in Crescent City, December 22, 1953, Margie served on the Yurok Tribal Council for more than a decade advocating for youth, health care and tribal elders. She was elected as representative of the Yurok Tribe’s north district in 1999 and was re-elected three times as well as being elected as vice chairperson in 2009.
During her time on the council, Margie participated in the signing of the first Klamath River dam removal agreement. She also helped the tribe re-acquire more than 20,000 acres of ancestral territory along the banks of the Klamath River.
We spoke to one another for the first time in 45-years around the first of February, and though in good spirit, she sounded weak, out of breath and tired, and excused herself after 20 minutes. It was good to hear her voice and her laughter as we talked about being kids and growing where and how we did.
While I am saddened by Margie’s death I know she’s in Heaven with her foster parents, Marie and Charlie. And though I don’t know Margie’s children, I offer them my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences along with Christine Jeffers, Margaret Martinez and Charlene Davis, who were Margie’s sisters for those five years that she lived in the same home, next to ours.