Community Highlight: Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota

25 Oct

Community Highlights, get to know the diverse Asian Pacific Islander communities across the state of Minnesota

by Sandy Kwan

photo credits to TAFM

Tibetans in Minnesota

Under the 1990 Immigration Act, one thousand visas were issued to Tibetans living in India and Nepal.  Seven locations were selected as resettlement sites and the Twin Cities was one of them.  To aid the resettlement of Tibetans, in 1992 Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota (TAFM) was established.  The mission of this non-profit organization is to preserve and promote the Tibetan cultural heritage and spiritual values under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Since the initial settlement of 160 Tibetans, approximately 3,000 Tibetans have established themselves in Minnesota mostly living in Minneapolis, Columbia Heights and Richfield.  This makes Minnesota the second largest Tibetan American community in the United States after New York with approximately 6-7,000 Tibetans, according to the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.

In 2002, with the growing number of Tibetans settling in Minnesota TAFM purchased a building in St. Paul to serve as their cultural center and offers cultural programs, youth development, spiritual services, and social services to name a few.  All of these services have evolved to meet the growing needs of the community and to help transmit Tibetan language, history, culture and knowledge to the new young generation of Tibetans who have grown up in the Minnesota.

Raising Global Awareness

Last week’s candlelight vigil was organized by TAFM, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, and Students for a Free Tibet.  Video credits to TAFM

Since March of this year, nine young Tibetans have set fire to themselves as a last resort against the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet.  “Many of these monks and nuns are young and come from the eastern part of Tibet where Tibetans are facing especially strict control,” says Tendor Norbu. On Wednesday, October 20th more than 100 Minnesota Tibetan monks, children, adults and elders stood outside the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis to raise awareness for those who have sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause.

A main part of the Tibetan Buddhist believe system is to promote human values – compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline.  “We hold compassion for all living things, and especially human life.  You can only imagine how desperate the situation is when young Tibetans resort to self-immolation” says Dr. Tsewang Ngodup speaking in response to the monks who have sacrificed themselves.

Last week’s candle light vigil was held in conjuncture with Lhakar, literally translated as “white Wednesday” a day where Tibetans have taken diverse pledges to express their Tibetan ethnicity by wearing Tibetan dress, speak only in Tibetan, eat Tibetan food or buying from Tibetan-owned businesses.  For many Tibetans, this is a way that they can assert their identity peacefully, showing their non-cooperation to China’s oppressive rule.

Peace rallies, candle light vigils, prayer services and fasting have been organized around the globe. A “Global Day of Action for Tibet” will be held on November 2, 2011 in Washington D.C.  For more information please contact TAFM at

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Community news



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