Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 21, 2012

Justice for Lakota Vern Traversie news coverage

Justice for Vern Traversie/Twitter photo Mesha Camp

YouTube Video

Above: KELOLAND News coverge of todays' Rally and March for Justice for Vern Traversie
A statement from a Cheyenne River Sioux elder on the violation of his patient rights:
Vern Traversie, a 69-year-old, legally blind elder of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was a patient in the Rapid City Regional Hospital from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10, 2011. Admitted for open-heart surgery, he suffered unexplained scarring and was treated in additional ways that violated his patient and civil rights.
Independently of Mr. Traversie, today many people are marching in Rapid City, S.D., to raise awareness of his situation. Mr. Traversie has given the following statement to be released to the news media.
"My patient rights and my civil rights were violated by Rapid City Memorial Hospital. I am scarred for life, but I seek justice. I don't want any other Native American to be treated like I was by the medical professionals who I trusted to take care of me when I was vulnerable.
I am thankful that so many Native Americans and other people from all over the world have reached out to me to say that they support me. I am humbled by their compassion. I ask that all who say my name and fight for me do so in a good way, and in peace. Out of all of this, I hope that Indians will receive greater medical care in Rapid City and everywhere else in America.
Since last summer when this happened, neither the police nor the FBI have contacted me, but I hope they will reach out to me to hear my story for themselves. I deserve a criminal investigation. This week my lawyers asked federal, state and local officials to investigate whether a hate crime was committed upon me while I was a patient at Rapid City Memorial Hospital.
I call on the United States and the State of South Dakota to help me because I am scared for my safety, and I ask for protection."
A statement of support from President Rodney Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe
"It is with grave concern that I add my voice to those calling for an investigation into the violation of Cheyenne River Tribal Elder Vern Traversie's patient rights and civil rights while he was a patient at the Rapid City Regional Hospital in August and September 2011.
While I am not in a position to confirm that Mr. Traversie's scars were caused by intentional carving or burning of his flesh, the video circulated on YouTube certainly indicates that there is scar in the form of KKK on his abdomen. Surely, this video and media reports should trigger an investigation by the FBI or local police.
Regardless of whether his scars are the result of a deliberate hate crime, Mr. Traversie has suffered anguish and pain that he should never have had to bear as either an honored Cheyenne River elder or as an American citizen.
You need to know that today American Indians in Rapid City routinely face prejudicial treatment that violates their human rights, most notably in the largest hospital in the State of South Dakota. Yet, as Mr. Traversie has said, it is time for peace and justice to prevail."

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