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Mourning at the Tule River Indian Reservation

This is a sovereign land of otherworldly beauty. Mist spills down a valley that winds from the Giant Sequoias to the elderberry and oak of the Sierra foothills. Stars in a black night sky seem as close as the candles that have been lighted in vigil during this tribe’s darkest moment

For nearly two weeks, Yokut tribal members have been coming to the Church on the Hill, lighting candles. The gatherings began spontaneously Dec. 8, the night Hector Celaya, 31, killed his mother and two uncles, critically wounded Andrew, his 6-year-old son, and sped off in a Jeep with his two daughters, Alyssa, 8 and Linea, 5.

Since 1933, the bells of the reservation’s oldest church have rung out whenever a community member passed. The day after the attack, the bells tolled all day.