Donald Pelotte, first Indian bishop, dies after illness
Donald Pelotte, an Abenaki man from Maine who was the first Native American Roman Catholic bishop, died in Florida on Thursday after being hospitalized for an apparent stroke. He was 64.

Pelotte began serving the Diocese of Gallup in New Mexico in 1990. He incorporated Navajo and other tribal beliefs into Catholic ceremonies and encouraged Navajos to join the ministry.

"It wasn't the Great White Father thing," Rev. John Mittelstadt, a friend and a minister on the Navajo Nation, told The Albuquerque Journal. "It was Native American understanding. He got laity involved in the church and in ministries. He had a respect for the medicine men and medicine women of all tribes."

Pelotte resigned from the Gallup diocese in 2008 following a suspicious incident at his home in July 2007. He was hospitalized for severe injuries and later said they were probably caused by someone else.

Pelotte, who ordained his twin brother into the priesthood, moved to Florida after the incident. He had said he planned to return to New Mexico to continue working with Indian communities.

Get the Story:
Illness claims former Gallup bishop (KRQE 1/7)
First American Indian bishop dies after illness (AP 1/7)
1st Native American Bishop Dies at 64 (The Albuquerque Journal 1/8)

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