Sandra Shotridge

“I grew up in my grandma’s kitchen,” says Sandra Shotridge, who was raised in Angoon, Alaska, where most residents are Native Americans of the Tlingit tribe. “I babysat when I was 8 years old. I lived the life, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ My grandparents had around 25 grandkids.” Shotridge arrived in Eugene at age 13, when her mom and stepdad couldn’t find work in Sitka. “It was culture shock for me,” she says. “I went through a lot of racism at Cal Young Junior High and North Eugene High School.” She returned to her grandma’s kitchen for a year at Sitka High School and another at an Alaska Native boarding school, then came back to Eugene and completed a GED at Lane Community College. In the photograph, Shotridge, at age 60, makes her usual Thursday evening visit to the community potluck dinner at the Many Nations Longhouse on the University of Oregon campus, where she also participates in its annual storytelling event. Married, divorced and the mother of five, she spends most weekdays at the home of her mother, caring for her own grandchildren. Her many volunteer efforts include sign-waving and phone-banking for local politicians Congressman Peter DeFazio and legislator turned Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Val Hoyle. She helped to organize the March Against Monsanto and the protest against Columbus Day that led to Indigenous Peoples Day in Oregon. She makes frybread for the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the UO. Other volunteer efforts include Occupy Medical, Egan Warming Center and three trips to North Dakota in 2016 to bring donated supplies to Native American pipeline protesters. “It’s an endeavor that broke me financially,” she admits, “used up all my funds.” On Jan. 20 of this year, Shotridge was honored as a recipient of the Eugene Human Rights Commission’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leadership Award.

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