Wild woman warrior, defender of the earth, witch, pagan juju conjurer, biker owl, office queen, Berkeley Mardi Gras frog priestess . . . Sequoia, we will miss you! You have gone to the other side on Oct. 20, two months after being diagnosed with myelomic leukemia.
Sequoia loved grand entrances, roaring up on her motorcycle to the doorstep of the Pacific Lumber office, or into a crowd of several thousand people at a Headwaters Forest rally, in full spotted owl get-up, wings on the handlebars and huge clawed feet on the pegs. Grand exits worked for her too. One of the most hilarious Sequoia stories involved an incident following a successful civil disobedience action atop Mt. Graham following a 1992 Earth First! Rendezvous at the telescope sites being imposed on the mountain. Somehow, in the negotiations around the blockaders avoiding arrest after we occupied the site all day, Sequoia managed to throw in a ride down the mountain (bad knee, you know) — but not in a vehicle — we were beyond vehicle access — but on the shoulders of the deputy sheriff! She cackled and reveled in riding the deputy the whole 2 miles down the mountain. To this day, I don’t know what possessed that deputy to say yes (Kali magic, I think).
Mischief and magic were her calling cards, whether sneaking around in the dark to yank down the drawers of Dana Lyons from behind as he sang a slow and sensitive song at an Earth First! campfire, or suddenly appearing as the goddess Kali in full juju regalia as for a march into the uranium mine site at the Grand Canyon to shut it down.
Sequoia was an amazing seamstress/tailor, fashioning costumes for actions and but also floats and wicked finery for Berkeley’s wingnutty celebration of Mardi Gras and for Samhain. Her favorites guises for cloaking herself were spotted owls, mountain lions and leopards. Also trees — she confronted then-Secretary of the Interior Don Hodel in Yosemite during a call to take down Hetch Hetchy dam as a redwood tree. Her black fringed leather jacket with the full size mountain lion face sewn on the back was part of her alter at her memorial. But she didn’t just dress up. She became those wild species, who were her totems. She was a wild animal and a wild human. Those close to her knew she had an especially intense childhood and adolescence that made her very tough and gave her an ability to defend herself as passionately as she defended the wild.
Around 1987, we all went to hearings in the redneck city of Redding when we were fighting against trophy hunting of mountain lions in California. Even we were surprised when Sequoia leaned into the mic at the lectern and said to the assembled Fish and Game officials and scores of hunters in the audience, “I have a gun. I know how to use it. I’ve used it successfully to defend myself, and I’m a very good shot. I live in Mendocino County, and if I ever see any of you hunting mountain lions where I live, you’ll be in my sights.” Thundering ovation from our side, and gasps from the opposition and mainstream groups.
During protests in Seattle in 1999 against the World Trade Organization, she was the oldest, loudest and most opinionated member of the generally youthful Wingnut cluster of East Bay affinity groups. Each time she saw a cloud of tear gas, she wanted to go straight to where the action was.
She embraced biocentrism as passionately as she embraced her motorcycle, and brought lessons learned from her earlier life experiences — her witchiness, her tough biker persona, and her organizational skills that made her an excellent office maven at the Cove Mallard Forest Defense and base camp mama during tree-sits on Georgia-Pacific land.
She was also a key person in the women’s movement in LA, and one of the first members of the Susan B. Anthony Coven # 1, founded by Z Budapest in 1971. It seemed to me that it was too soon for this wild woman with the big red hair and outrageous open mouth cackle to pass over to the other side, but she showed remarkable wisdom, love of life, calm, and even humor when she explained to me that she felt settled and felt that a lot of her life goals — her bucket list, as it were — had been achieved. She was an accomplished potter, had a pilot’s license, jumped out of airplanes numerous times, traveled the world, mostly alone, biked thousands of miles, could fix almost anything on 2 wheels or 4 wheels, and was caring for the land she loved on Greenfield, as it cared for her.
She noted in an interview published years ago that a phrase she always lived by was “tits to the wind.” So to you, Sequoia. May your tits always be to the wind. Viva Sequoia!