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Seasonal baby celebration honors community's youngest children

Sarah Cummins

9/27/2001 12:00:00 AM

Six-year-old Izabella Ruffino plays with her nine-month-old cousin Wiingashk Pelcher on an inflatable obstacle course during the Summer Baby Celebration on Sept. 21

A recent celebration of life focused on praying for the future of the Saginaw Chippewa children and honoring traditions and culture during their upbringing.

The Summer Baby Celebration took place at the Elijah Elk Cultural Center on Sept. 21. The event, which has been taking place for seven years, honors children birth to three years old and their mothers. However, the whole community is encouraged to participate.

"I want to say miigwetch to everyone who has accepted the honor of raising a new spirit. There is nothing more honorable," stated guest speaker Anita Heard. "I want to say miigwetch especially to the young women, who find themselves in a predicament and our raising young ones, who've had to give up some of their dreams, but have had the courage to be there for their young ones."

Renee Dillard, who served as a guest speaker for the event as well, reminded parents and families to provide for their children's futures-both culturally and physically.

"I like to follow our traditional ways and our traditional values," explained Dillard. "My grandson has an older sister. Every time she comes over, we put on our boots and go for a walk in the woods. I want her to remember that from her grandmother. Mother Nature has so much she can teach us. It's so important for our little ones to know that.

"Take responsibility for the seven generations. When we make decisions with these in mind, we do even better for the future. When we understand where we have been as a people, it will make it so much easier for our young ones."

Mothers of the youngest attendants were presented with handmade blankets. For every baby celebration, Sandy Smith creates these gifts for the mothers of newborns. She has been giving handmade items to young mothers for over 20 years. Her creations have been sent all over the world, including China, Iraq and Canada.

The celebration, attended by about 150 people, also included a feast and song provided by the High Spirit Singers.

The event is structured in the spirit of fun with games such as the mummy wrap, drum game, face painting and giveaways along with outdoor recreation. However, a more serious note was touched on by Seventh Generation Program Director Beaver Pelcher with thoughts for the future.

"This is the time to think of our babies and what is going on right now in our country," stated Pelcher in reference to the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. "We are a nation within a nation, along with all our other reservations. I thank the participants and other programs for coming and thinking of our children. We give prayers for the mothers, unborn, fathers and grandmothers and all those people. Pray for our veterans and our men and women in this country.

"I hope for our whole nation and other countries that have been oppressed. I hope for peace and pray for our people. However you pray, let's pray for peace for these babies and for the country."