Statement: AIC on Recent Events
Dear AIC Community Members,
As many know, the American Indian Center (AIC) has had a challenging year. In the spirit of transparency and open communication, the following statement has been written to address rumors and misinformation that has been spreading about actions taken and provide an accurate update about current matters to members and the community.
First and foremost, the American Indian Center is a community center that represents over 100 Tribal Nations, meaning we have many diverse opinions and perspectives but it is important to work together through our differences so we can continue to be a welcoming place for all members of this community. The AIC would love to be a place that does everything for everybody, however, we are limited by funding, staffing, and even space. Upon our move, AIC reached out to the community for input on how to move forward. We quickly tried to build up our operating revenue in order to increase programs and services that we could provide. We met with community members to address concerns and have been working hard to bring back programs and services to the community. We heard issues related to programming, Elders, and governance.
In response to all of this, AIC leadership began offering different programs, Senior lunches and forming committees. Attendance at all these events has diminished significantly and we are left wondering if this was truly a need and something really desired by the community. We are saddened and hurt that members of this community chose not to work together but rather use the AIC as a battleground to manipulate, spread rumors and keep people away.
AIC leadership and staff are committed to maintaining AIC as a welcoming, safe space for all and we will continue to seek mediation with this group of concerned community members. The following is a brief timeline of activities that have occurred to get us to this point and hope that this continues to bring clarity and understanding to the actions that the leadership has taken to this point.
- Annual meeting held at AIC. An election was held and shortly thereafter contested.
- Petition received at Board of Directors meeting calling for a membership meeting to challenge the legitimacy of the by-laws and election.
- Member meeting called in April and had a non-sanctioned vote where they called for a new election and “adoption” of a version of 2012 bylaws.
- In order to send out notices, community group members took member information and used it to send out notices causing confusion and distrust of the American Indian Center. These notices, calling for a revote in June, were not AIC approved and were not sent out on behalf of AIC.
- AIC holds a community meeting to inform people about the situation, ask again for more input and suggestions on how to move forward given that we are a community of multiple voices and perspectives.
- A special re-election committee was established and discussed dates and possibilities for conducting another election.
- On June 1st, a non-sanctioned vote occurred outside the AIC building. Membership money was collected and never turned into AIC for proper accounting and recording keeping purposes. The group “voted” to remove the entire AIC Board of Directors and added a new 18 person Board.
- On June 20th a coup occurred at the regularly scheduled AIC Board of Directors meeting. Members of the coup physically tried to take personal items, were hostile, yelled and screamed in front of young children, stole records from AIC and occupied the building until after midnight forcing staff to stay for hours and hours after their scheduled work time.
- As a result of these malicious, traumatic, and violent actions the AIC leadership immediately decided to file a restraining order against this group of individuals in order to maintain governance and prevent further disruptions from occurring at AIC meetings and events. AIC has pending litigation in the form of a restraining order against this group to prevent them from acting as a Board of Directors. To be clear AIC is not suing anyone or any Elder in the community. The pending litigation is only to allow for governance to continue as normal and cease further disruptions.
Throughout this entire process, the AIC leadership has asked that we all sit down together and resolve these issues through professional mediation rather than court proceedings. In order to be successful, the entire group must attend mediation together and not on a one on one basis.
For now, the court proceedings will continue, we will keep the community updated, and continue postponement of special re-election until the pending litigation has been resolved. AIC leadership is saddened by these actions and how they are affecting the entire community. AIC will remain strong in it’s commitment to be a safe place for all American Indians, community members, and non-Natives to be true to our mission of promoting fellowship among Indian people of all Tribes living in metropolitan Chicago and to create bonds of understanding and communication between Indians and non-Indians in this city. To advance the general welfare of American Indians into the metropolitan community life; to foster the economic advancement of Indian people, to sustain cultural, artistic, and avocational pursuits; and to perpetuate Indian cultural values.
If you have additional questions or concerns please reach out to Heather, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please attend programs, support the AIC and continue to build positive engagements with our American Indian community in Chicago.