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Native American Center to resume services

The N ative American Center of Southeast Minnesota will resume cultural and counseling services in Rochester next month, after anonymous criticism of the group caused it to quit providing those services in June.

Jim Wilson, the center's chairman, said in a statement issued Wednesday that services will resume on Aug. 1. The center's board of directors met last week to talk about the controversy and decide how to proceed.

The center is based in Rochester, has about 30 active members and was founded in 1984 to promote between native and non-native people. It offers educational programming, spiritual chaplaincy and counseling, and other services.

Those services were suspended in June because of what Wilson says were anonymous letters from people claiming they're "tribally enrolled Native Americans in the city of Rochester." Wilson, who lives in Zumbrota and is white but says he grew up with an Osage Indian cultural identity, said the letters "contain defaming accusations about 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."

In an interview with the Post-Bulletin two weeks ago, Wilson said he believes he knows who sent the letters, and he threatened legal action.


The statement issued Wednesday takes a more conciliatory tone regarding the anonymous attacks. The board "decided that we will invite this person/persons to join the Native American Center and work with us toward greater understanding and to help in making a better and more caring world. If they choose not to do so, then we ask them to at least act in a good-hearted way and leave us alone, so we can continue the work our organization started in 1984."

"As for myself," Wilson says in the statement, "and on behalf of the membership, we deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused."

The statement notes, however, that the investigation into this "illegal activity" will continue.

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