Vern Traversie and His Two and a Half Year Wait for Answers
“I never had any experience with any kind of lawsuit,” Traversie said. “It really is an extensive waiting period, since there’s this motion to throw the case out of court due to lack of evidence. We’re waiting for the judge, and if he doesn’t throw it out, we’ll be setting a date for trial.”
Traversie said the last two and a half years have been harrowing, but they’ve also given him time to think.
“To me, this is really about civil rights,” he explained. “A lot of people have contacted me and said that their rights were violated at Rapid City Regional Hospital, too. There seems to be a different justice involved, one for white people and one for Indians. Indian people have to really fight to stand up for themselves.
“I don’t want this to happen to our elders, our children,” he continued, his voice thick with emotion. “I want to tell people, send a relative to protect them while they’re at the hospital. I wonder if (hospital staff) took advantage of me because I’m elderly, and blind, without a lot of people to check up on me.”
The experience has taken its toll. Traversie said he’s in constant fear of KKK retribution, and he’s afraid of doctors; he doesn’t even like going to the local IHS hospital in Eagle Butte.
“It’s hard for me to go out and do things,” Traversie said. “I’m going to be 72 on June 12, I live in extreme poverty, and my health is always a concern, but this also has dishonored my soul. I was tortured in mind, body and spirit. It’s been horrible to endure.”
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