In a new blog post by Care2.com, Vern Traversie the blind and elderly Lakota elder who alleges he was a victim of branding while in the care of the Rapid City Regional Hospital for open-heart surgery is finally being heard.
According to the blog, Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, spoke with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council and took evidence from them on June 6. Indian Country Today Media Network has confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the South Dakota Attorney General’s office, and Health and Human Services have commenced an investigation into the alleged attacks.
Traversie who’s story about the alleged abuse broke two months ago has been requesting legal help ever since local authorities and a Rapid City lawyer failed to follow through with an investigation.
The meeting comes two weeks after a march of nearly 700 protestors from Native communities across the United States embarked on the streets of Rapid City, South Dakota with their final destination being the RCRH, as ICTMN reported May 22.
At the time Cody Hall, a Cheyenne River tribal member and friend of Traversie’s said, “We have organized to send a message for once and for all that we are not going to stand for anymore hate crimes or racial violence in this region. It doesn’t matter where you are from; once you get to Rapid, when an Indian steps out of their car, they are labeled a target.”
On the same day as the march, Traversie and Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, released statements calling for a criminal investigation into the alleged attacks.
“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,” Bordeaux said.
Watch Traversie’s video reaching out for legal help that started it all: