Native American Center halting all Rochester volunteer services - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Native American Center halting all volunteer services to Mayo Clinic, Rochester

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Native American Center of SE Minnesota says it is halting all volunteer services for the city of Rochester, including chaplain and volunteer activities at Mayo Clinic, because of anonymous "attack" letters sent via U.S. Mail.

NAC Chairperson Jim Wilson issued a statement late Thursday afternoon saying a police report has been filed about the letters from people who claim to be tribally enrolled Native Americans living in Rochester that "contain defaming accusations."

"Our founding members realized that by working together we truly can achieve our goals of teaching and sharing the true history of our Native peoples, our spiritual ways and how we see the larger world around us," notes Wilson.  "Over the years we have had our challenges dealing with greed, pride and even arrogance within our organization.  Since our membership is so diverse, no one tribal or tribal customs is allowed to dictate or overrule the general membership or their vote." 

Wilson says Native American Center leaders have received these letters challenging their cultural legitimacy -- but they do not know who sent them.

"These letters contain defaming accusations against myself and our non Native and white members stating we are thieves and are a disgrace to the community and make "real" Indians look bad and that our members have no right to practice and teach the Native ways of which have been gifted by other Native brothers and sisters and that we have no right to walk the Red Road."

Until the matter can be resolved, NAC says as of midnight Thursday it is pulling out of the Indian Heights project in Rochester, all emergency financial aid services, chaplain services at Mayo Clinic and other Rochester hospitals, and all volunteer and educational services it has been providing.   

Wilson says the NAC Board authorized the action because of "the severe nature of the second attack and the hatefulness at which it has been launched at innocent persons."

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