The Chief’s Circle would like to offer tribal members guidance about the Prayer Fires used in dedication to our departed family members. These fires are considered sacred spaces where the tribal community can make tobacco offerings that carry their prayers to the departed spirit. The place chosen on your property for the Prayer Fire is regarded as sacred ceremonial ground forever. It becomes a place for your family to return when spiritual guidance from within is needed.
The immediate family members are the only ones that decide whether or not to have a Prayer Fire at their home site. It is not a requirement of any kind that a Prayer Fire is lit. Families may instead, choose to have one dedicated at the Meeting House grounds the day of the funeral or not have one at all. We must honor the family wishes with support in whatever manner they choose to grieve. Grieving is a very important part of life. When grieving is done thoroughly, the family can accept the passing and take their place in the tribal circle with a healthy heart.
It is very important that the tribal community respectfully support the family during these tender days following their loss. It is not appropriate to impose ourselves on their decisions, enter their homes without invitation, nor take anything that isn’t offered to you, or linger longer than necessary to make the tobacco offering. The Prayer Fires for traditionalists are usually lit the same day or night of the passing and kept burning until the burial rites are held. This fire can last for three days and nights and sometimes more, until the funeral day. No one other than the Fire Keeper should stay overnight. The entire time period from lighting the fire until it is put out, is a ceremony. People should make their prayer offering of tobacco in the fire and then leave. It is not appropriate to remain at the home of a grieving family socializing around the Prayer Fire. The fire itself should be small and tended by one person. Only the Fire Keepers are responsible for adding firewood unless they ask you to assist. You may bring fire wood as an offering to the family. Firewood should be cut and split before dropping it off. Nothing but wood and tobacco should be put in a Prayer Fire.
Absolutely no drugs, alcohol, or intoxicated persons are allowed near a Prayer Fire. Do not tolerate anyone breaking this rule; gently teach them about protecting sacred space.
On Behalf Chief Silent Drum
By the Chief’s Circle