Internet Explorer is no longer fully supported on Please use a newer browser for the best experience.

Celebration of Healing, Hope & Recovery 9-24-14

Joseph V. Sowmick - September 29, 2014

War declared on substance abuse at Celebration of Healing, Recovery & Hope event

By Joseph V. Sowmick, Photojournalist
History was made on Sept. 24, 2014 as Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Steven Pego signed a birch bark document of community standards declaring war on drugs and alcohol at the Celebration of Healing, Recovery & Hope held in the Eagle’s Nest Tribal Gym on the Reservation.  Chief Pego was lovingly surrounded on stage with supporters that included the current Tribal Council, former Tribal Chiefs and many Tribal members in traditional regalia.

“Our community stood together as warriors ready to fight the good fight of stopping the pain that drugs and alcohol caused on the Reservation for too many years,” Chief Pego said.  “According to Research Center Coordinator Anita Heard at Ziibiwing Center, a Declaration of War has not been done by our Tribe since the All Tribes Confederacy years dating back to 1763.  The warrior ceremony was a beautiful moment for many where the community was bold to show their commitment to fighting this war together by crossing over the ceremonial line, one-by-one, to show we are together on this.”

The Saginaw Chippewa Academy Anishnaabe Bimaadziwin Team created the birch bark community standard document in a good way incorporating a copper frame with red willow accents for the frame.
“The birch bark scroll was crafted and completed yesterday by myself, Aaron Chivis, James Day and Nathan Isaac in my garage at my house on the Reservation,” Joe Syrette, Anishnaabe culture and language teacher said. “As we read the document, we saw these good words needed to be surrounded by good medicine, and the creative spirit moved from there. I must say it was a good turn out and I hope we can see all the people who attended come together again to start planning creative ideas to help towards the war on drugs and alcohol.”
The SCA AB Team also provided the Sacred Fire just outside the Eagle’s Nest Tribal Gym for the community to offer up their prayers.  Youth LEAD Diversion Manager Guadalupe Gonzalez offered a vision and state of emergency alert to mobilize and encourage the community toward healing the families.

“It was moving to see so many concerned community members at the event,” Gonzalez said. “We all have a lot to be thankful for.  We also have a lot of work ahead of us.  The Celebration of Healing, Recovery & Hope was a great start to this important movement. The afterglow of the healing that took place can only inspire us to do more good work like this and encourage more people to step up and fight with us.  I’d like to thank everyone who helped plan, organize, volunteer, cook or did anything to help.  We couldn’t have done it without all the support and help from the community. “   
The Youth LEAD Diversion Team was an integral driver of the effort as they work directly with the schools, courts and law enforcement community, and Youth LEAD Diversion Support Coach Kevin Ricketts couldn’t be happier.
“The movement has begun, there were some people that attended for the hope of a drug-free community,” Ricketts said. “There were some people that attended because they needed healing in their spirit.  And there were also people that attended to strengthen the walk in their recovery.  Now it’s time for those who jumped over the rope to freedom to exercise the love, and caring for our community.  War has been declared. I stand strong as a warrior… silent and non-engaging no more, acting out in bravery and love for every member of our community.”

The event was supported by law enforcement personnel from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Police Department, Michigan State Police, Central Michigan University Police and the Isabella County Sheriff Department.  Participating in the ceremony from the SCTPD were Police Sergeants Luke Dixon, Harry Ambs, Craig Wilson, Scott Bailey, Officer Donielle Bannon, Officer Levi Barton and Investigators Phil Mata and Jason VanConant. 
Representing the Michigan State Police were Lt. Troy Allen and Trooper Michael White.  Police Chief Bill Yeagley from CMU and Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski also joined in the Grand Entry and other aspects of the event.

Chief Pego, Eagle Clan Mide’ Kwe Mae Pego, Rev. Robert Pego and Faith Carmona-Pego led the Grand Entry into the Eagle’s Nest Tribal Gym followed by the Tribal Eagle Staff carried by AOVWS Okima II David Perez (U. S. Army).  Other Eagle Staffs joining Grand Entry included the Company K Sharpshooters Staff, carried by Darwin Sanada (U.S. Army), Eagle Warrior Staff carried by Tony Davis (U.S. Army), and the Eagle Healing Staff carried by Butch Deverny (U.S. Marine Corps).  The colors of other flags were also brought in during the Grand Entry processional.  Leading the flag ceremony was the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Flag carried by Tony Perry (U.S. Army), United States Stars & Stripes carried by Ricketts (U.S. Air Force), the Missing in Action/Prisoner of War Flag carried by Tony Carmona (U.S. Army) and the State of Michigan Flag carried by Scott Koorch (U.S. Army). 

The Christian Flag was also present and carried in by Potters House “Celebrate Recovery” member Nathan Quigno.
The Mino Ode Singers (Joe Syrette, Nathan Isaac, James Day, Aaron Chivis, Raymond Shenoskey, Christopher Spencer, Caden Pego, Hunter Genia, Brayden Chivis, Gracin Montoya) offered a Grand Entry and Flag Song to start the celebration and drummed through the warrior ceremony.  The Saginaw Chippewa Youth Council read vital statistics during the dinner that underlined the need for community action.  The potluck meal was prepared by the ladies of our Native churches with assistance of community members who brought in side dishes and desserts.

The moving portion of the event was delivered by the personal experiences shared by Kenson Taylor, Melissa Montoya, Christina Osawabine, Marian Williams and Christina Otto.  SCIT Media was on hand to live web stream the telecast via the Tribal website and the SCIT Public Relations Department mentions it will be available for people to watch in its entirety at

Mino Ode Singers also did a Victory Song and a Traveling Song as the AOVWS retired the Eagle Staffs and colors.   (Team Observer photos by Editor Natalie Shattuck.)

Current Issue

June 2023

Bonus Coverage

View Bonus Coverage


Subscription Form (.pdf)