Vern Traversie and President Rodney Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are calling for a criminal investigation into Mr. Traversie's allegations that he suffered unexplained scarring and other violations of his patient's and civil rights during a hospital stay. Mr. Traversie, a 69-year-old legally blind elder of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, was admitted for open-heart surgery from August 28 to September 10, 2011, and his pleas for help via YouTube led to a series of stories on ICTMN.com that described his travails and ensuing struggle for justice. His plight has won broad support nationally and today, many are marching in Rapid City, S.D., to raise awareness of his situation.
Today, he released to the following statement 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 RapidCity 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. Thisweek 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 CityMemorial 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.
Join me in demanding:
· That the FBI and Rapid City Police publicly explain why no investigation into these events has been launched in the six months since Mr. Traversie reported them to law enforcement agencies;
· And that the Rapid City Regional Hospital seek an independent investigation into what went so tragically wrong during the hospitalization of Mr. Vern Traversie.
At stake are the patient rights and civil rights of all American Indians who seek care at the Rapid City Regional Hospital.