Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
ISABELLA INDIAN RESERVATION After the search for four year old Carnell Chamberlain late Saturday afternoon had ended. A group of Saginaw Chippewa tribal citizens that included family and friends, dug a circle to make a fire pit and a ceremonial fire was started.
Both Pictures are of Carnel Chamberlain Age 4
The ceremonial fire was started in honor of the missing Saginaw Chippewa boy and as a gesture to show support to his family.
On Tuesday afternoon, under brilliant blue skies and temperatures in the mid-80s, the ceremonial fire was still burning behind a home near the Chamberlain home on the Isabella Indian Reservation. Within eye's view of the ceremonial fire several hundred yards away, law enforcement officials could be seen combing the area near the Tribe's water treatment plant and pond.
“We have a ceremonial, or traditional, fire going. It is designed to keep the family comforted,”
stated Frank Cloutier, public director of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, at the press briefing on Tuesday afternoon inside the Tribal Police Department's conference room. There are approximately 1,000 tribal citizens who live on tribal lands in this small mid-Michigan community.
“That is basically where people gather as they work to support the family of Carnell and their struggles,”
“People are hurting and scared here. This is something that does not happen here. I believe this is the first time we have had a missing child here. The fire is culturally significant. It is not there for celebration, so people should not confuse the ceremonial fire with a party.”
Christopher Pelcher, Dewey Meija & Manual Francis Tend the Ceremonial Fire
The ceremonial fire is kept burning by volunteers who have committed to keep it going. By tradition, it must be kept going with a male present.
“The fire will continue to burn even after young Carnell is found,”
said Christopher Pelcher, a Saginaw Chippewa tribal citizen.
“It will be kept burning for three days after he comes back.”
Pelcher has personally made sure the fire has kept going all night long.
“It is a time for us to show the community strength.”
Members of the community came by to stand or sit near the fire on Tuesday afternoon. There was a table with asemaa- tobacco-on it. Some select a asemaa bundle and spread it in the fire as a gesture of prayer for the Chamberlain family.
“We are spiritual people in this community,”
said Kevin Chamberlain, who is serving as a family spokesperson and is a first cousin to Jaimee Chamberlain's mother. Kevin Chamberlain is a former tribal chief of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe.
“Some may be Christian and some are traditionalists here. We are all praying for Carnell's safe return.”
“We have to keep hope going. It is difficult when we have to watch the rescue search party happening right across the street. We are thankful for those who are keeping the fire going. We are thankful for those who are praying.”
During the first three days of becoming aware of young Carnell's disappearance, hundreds of members of the community have volunteered to search for him.
Yesterday was Day Five since his disappearance. The rescue search efforts were performed on a professional and scientific basis. Law enforcement officers from various agencies focused their attention on the water sewage plant within eye's view of the Chamberlain home.
posted June 27, 2012 8:30 am edt