Sunday, June 24, 2012

Who was Marian Steffes?

You might be curious about the woman for whom this summer school is named.  Here's a little bit about her from the National Baha'i Archives in Wilmette, IL.

Marian Steffes at the First Baha'i Council Fire Gathering
Pine Springs, AZ, June 1962
Marian steffes was born June 14, 1900 in Oneida, Wisconsin on a farm owned by her family. Her parents were of the Oneida tribe of the Iriquois Nation. She and her husband Fred had a son, Wayne, and a daughter Ramona, whose married name was Ortega. She spent most of her life as a Milwaukee resident, moving to northern California in latter days. She died in Grenada Hills, California on June 14, 1978.

Marian began investigating the Baha'i Faith in Milwaukee in 1935. It is not possible to determine who was the first American Indian to accept the Faith, but Marian was definitely among the earliest to do so. She immediately began to spread the news of the Cause among her people and continued doing so as long as she lived in Wisconsin. She was accompanied by one of her earliest teachers, “Auntie Victoria” Bedikian on some of her travels. In 1953 she attended the International Conference in Chicago-Wilmette as one of a handful of Indian representatives. She addressed the Great Council Fire in Papago Land in Arizona in February 1963 and her son Wayne was master of ceremonies at one of the sessions. Upon her passing the Universal House of Justice began its cable, “GRIEVED LOSS STAUNCH OUTSTANDING NATIVE AMERICAN TEACHER CAUSE MARIAN STEFFES.”

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