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Pioneer Editorial: Lessons to be learned in tragedy

This week we join with members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in mourning the loss of two of their preci-ous children -- brothers Tristan Anthony White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2.

This week we join with members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in mourning the loss of two of their preci-ous children -- brothers Tristan Anthony White, 4, and Avery Lee Stately, 2.

After going missing Nov. 22, the boys' family and the Red Lake Nation anxiously awaited an answer to the question, "What happened to our children?" Their hopes for a safe return were dashed Sunday when their bodies were discovered encased in ice in First Thunder Lake, about a half-mile from their home south of Red Lake.

Results of an autopsy revealed Tuesday that they probably died of an accidental drowning. While the actual details may never be known, a probable answer would have the boys walking off to the lake, perhaps walking across it to sample winter's early work on the lake as it iced over. Not nearly enough, however, as the boys probably broke through, went under, and drowned as the ice quickly reformed over them.

A sad tragedy, but at least the family has closure knowing that the boys are at rest, with their Creator, with their outcome not a never-ending question mark.

Are their lessons to be learned? we ask.

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The effort that was mounted last fall in the search for the boys was truly a response from the heart. Hundreds of volunteers spent days and days searching for the boys, an effort that drew Indians and non-Indians alike -- all drawn by knowing that there were children in danger.

The concern crossed reservation borders, and cultural borders, showing that we as residents of northern Minnesota have concern and compassion for all of our neighbors, regardless of race or culture.

That effort continued this spring, as it was a search and rescue unit from St. Louis County which used the spring ice break-up time to resume a search.

We can only hope that such cross-cultural help can continue, but to include times of gladness and joy as well as in times of tragedy and loss.

We've also learned how precious our children are, that how quickly they can get away from us. And how dangerous ice can be, either early when starting to freeze or this time of year when starting to melt. As much as we try to protect our children, the unbearable manages to crop up.

As we offer our thoughts and prayers to Tristan and Avery's family and extended Red Lake family, we also call upon all with children to give them an extra hug tonight.

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