Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Any death at a young age is tragic. A murder of a four year old will shake the core of a person's constitution.
The Magnificent Power of the Creator
This is what the Chamberlain and Francis families are dealing with now on the Isabella Indian Reservation in mid-Michigan. The young boy was missing for one week before his body was discovered buried in a shallow graved underneath the porch to his home on the reservation.
The discovery of young Carnel Chamberlain's body on Thursday has shaken the Saginaw Chippewa tribal community.
Early Thursday evening, I stood at the corner that leads to the Chamberlain home soon after the announcement of the discovery of young Carnel's body. The community was coming home from their daily activities of work or running errands to discover a tribal police car blocking entry into the street. Many slowed down and rolled down their windows at the intersection to inquire about what was going on. Some figured it out before their windows were fully down. They gasped as if to say not in our community.
The Isabella Indian Reservation is home to the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, which in recent years has provided the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe a measure of prosperity. Even so, it has to deal with certain negative aspects of life.
One gets a sense that it is a community that gets its strength from prayer.
When I was a little boy I attended camp meetings on the Isabella Indian Reservation with my grandparents, Levi and Ellen Whitepigeon, during early August. The camp meetings, or old fashioned tent revival services, continue even now. The Reverend Owen Whitepigeon, pastor of the United Methodist Church on the reservation, is a cousin. So I know the community believes in the power of prayer.
Ceremonial Fire for Carnel
On Tuesday, I was on the reservation and visited the ceremonial fire that was lit in honor of Carnel behind a home on his street. I saw people come by to sprinkle asemaa-tobacco into the fire and to pray.
When a tribal member outside the tribal police department told me on Thursday evening:
"I have been religious my whole life and I cannot believe this is happening,"
I knew somewhat of what she was talking about. She told me she has been in constant prayer since it was first announced Carnel was missing. She told me she is part of prayer groups all over the country. She told me people are praying for the families and Tribe.
Then at the candlelight vigil outside of Tribal Operations where hundreds came out to show their support to the family and Tribe, prayers went up.
Even with the tragic circumstances, the sunset off into the distance still showed the magnificent power of the Creator. Prayer will sustain this hurting tribal community.
photo credit Ronnie Sprague; posted June 30, 2012 6:30 am edt