Cancer patient Daniel Hauser, 13, and his mother, Colleen, are still eluding law enforcement officials, but their lawyer, Susan Daya Hamwi (right), says she is not with them.
Hamwi was last seen with the Hausers in Brown County, Minnesota, on Monday. Like the Hausers, Hamwi, a California-based lawyer, is a member of the alt-med, pseudo-Native American Nemenhah Band “religious” group.
The Hausers were spotted in the Los Angeles area earlier this week. Hamwi told The Associated Press she was at home and not with the medical fugitives, whom authorities believe intend to enter Mexico.
The Hausers say their religion opposes chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Daniel, who has stage 2B Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They believe the Nemenhah Band‘s herbal therapies will cure Daniel. Medical doctors, however, say that without conventional treatments Daniel’s lymphoma will ultimately kill him.
After a lengthy court proceeding last week, a Brown County judge ruled that the Hausers had to agree to conventional cancer treatments, or Daniel would be placed in foster care and compelled to undergo standard medical procedures.
Colleen and Daniel Hauser, accompanied by Hamwi, made a court-mandated visit to a clinic Monday. After an X-ray showed a growing tumor in Daniel’s chest, the three quickly left, saying they had “other places to go.”
The court had required Daniel see an oncologist immediately if the chest X-ray revealed further progress of his lymphoma.
A bench warrant was issued for Colleen Hauser’s arrest Monday afternoon. Brown County authorities later issued a felony warrant when it became clear the Hausers had left Minnesota and were perhaps heading for Mexico. The FBI, border police and Interpol have since joined the manhunt.
Hamwi’s brief interview was the latest development in the months-long saga of Daniel’s lymphoma, which a doctor diagnosed in January. Daniel had one round of chemotherapy, but never returned for further treatments.
After the Hausers told doctors they were refusing standard treatments on religious grounds, the doctors reported them to local child protection authorities.
White and Roman Catholic, the Hausers all belong to the Nemenhah Band, a “Native American church,” which teaches that all illnesses can be cured with traditional “Native” remedies and that its religious practices and beliefs are protected under federal Indian law. Chemotherapy and radiation are “poisons,” which cannot be introduced into the body, according to Nemenhah beliefs.
The Nemenhah — the term comes from a quasi-Mormon set of “historical archives” — are not formally associated with any federally recognized Native American tribe or nation. Native American organizations also repudiate the Nemenhah’s “Native” connections.
Phillip “Cloudpiler” Landis, a naturopath and New Age lecturer who claims he is one-fourth Native American, founded the group in 1994. Landis also claims he and others have translated the “Mentinah Archives,” a set of purportedly ancient tablets recording the history and beliefs of the Nemenhah.
Landis also goes by the names Ea-lea Powitz Peopeo and Hemene Ot To Oh Yelo Akekt .
According to the archives, the Nemenhah accompanied Hagoth, a figure in the Book of Mormon, from the Middle East to the New World sometime before the birth of Jesus. The people settled in what is now the Four Corners area of the USA. The LDS Church, however, does not recognize the validity of the Mentinah Archives.
To become a member of the Nemenhah requires a membership “donation” of $250 and subsequent monthly “donations.” Members 13 years old and older are considered “medicine men” and “elders” in the organization, which also sells medicinals
concocted developed by Landis. Members can also sell the medicinals as part of the Nemenhah-affiliated multi-level marketing scheme system.
In testimony last week, it became clear that Daniel, who is learning disabled and illiterate, does not fully understand what it means to be a medicine man nor does he understand the precepts of his adopted church. The judge refused to consider the family’s religious beliefs in the hearings.
The Hausers attorneys, who are also members of the Nemenhah Band, insisted that the group’s Native American identity would mean federal laws protecting Native American religious practices would also allow the Hausers to legally pursue their alt-med treatments of Daniel’s lymphoma.
Their plan didn’t work.
Landis spoke to the AP on Friday. The AP report makes it clear that the Nemenhah are not Native American, despite the group’s claims.