Column: Playing Indian and jeopardizing lives
"Perhaps it's the large, trusting eyes and the smooth, bald head that make us want to believe in Daniel Hauser. He never speaks, but seems composed and mature in front of television cameras, a silent Buddha upon whom we can project wisdom.

Maybe that's why so many readers and talk-radio listeners were willing to believe that a 13-year-old boy could be a church elder and a medicine man; after all, he even has the papers to prove it. Maybe it's why they believed he could understand his own mortality and make hard decisions about his own health care.

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

As I reported last week, the man who runs the Nemenhah Band, to which the Hausers became members by paying a fee, has been convicted of grand theft and theft by deceptive practices at least twice. Another member of the group used the loophole that allows for Native American spirituality in order to sell peyote. Dan Zwakman, who the Hausers claim is their medicine man, is a former police officer.

The judge in the case said, "It is clear these statements of the principles of Nemenhah are not being generated by either of these witnesses [Daniel or his mother]." No, it was grown-ups playing Indian and jeopardizing lives."

Get the Story:
Jon Tevlin: Boy with cancer should not be a casualty of ignorance, too (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 5/17)

Another Story:
Judge rules teen must be treated for cancer (AP 5/15)

Related Stories:
Column: Boy's life at risk due to Native sham man (5/12)