Posted by on Apr 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Lakota Man Accuses Hospital of Healthcare Hate Crime

By Evelyn Red Lodge

Rapid City, South Dakota – A member and resident of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota came home from a 14-day stay in the hospital to find he had been horribly mutilated.  Three Ks can be easily seen carved or burned into his abdomen in the shocking photograph taken the day after he came home.

Vernon Traversie, who is completely blind, said his nightmare began when he had a heart attack while at the Heart Doctors office in Rapid City last August.  He said they immediately sent him a few blocks away to Rapid City Regional Hospital for emergency surgery.

Traversie is a 68-year-old Lakota elder who told Last Real Indians, “I was supposed to have emergency surgery on my heart, but they (hospital) had scheduling problems.  Every night they would prep me for surgery which went on for four or five days.  Every night they would shave my chest and stomach and wouldn’t feed me.”

Being blind, Traversie said he didn’t even know what was done to him until a RCRH employee came into his room and advised him to have pictures taken of his chest and abdomen as soon as he got home.  He says she told him that she could not testify for him, but that her conscience got the better of her and she didn’t agree with what they did to him.

Last Real Indians asked retired nurse, Joyce Anderson, to view the photograph of Traversie’s injuries.  She was a surgical nurse for nine years and worked on the heart team at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She said, “It appears the area under the incision was done with a scalpel for drainage of the incision.  The other wounds seem to be necrotic, meaning the tissue is dead.  This could indicate the wounds were burned into his skin.”

Traversie has posted a Youtube video (See Vern Traversie Video) in which he explains his ordeal.

He calls what has been done to him a racial hate crime.  In the video he explains that if the mutilation of his abdomen was done in surgery that there were many who would have witnessed it.  However, he said, “I had a male nurse come over and tell me to shut my f****** mouth, because I asked for pain medication after my surgery.

He then related, “I felt scared and humiliated. I couldn’t even move my arms. I felt helpless.”

Traversie then explained that he found it odd that he requested to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital to regain his strength but was not granted his request – all the while various people kept coming in to look at his abdomen.  At the time, he was not aware of the suspicious wounds.

He claims the hospital told his attorney that the extra wounds were caused by tape.  However, he said he did not have any tape on him that he remembers.

Traversie said he did have pictures taken of his abdomen the day after her returned home from the hospital.  The pictures he said are dated September 9.

He said a West Wind Home Healthcare nurse visited him at his home and he told her about the hospital nurse telling him to have pictures taken.  He said when the West Wind nurse saw his abdomen she just kept saying, “Oh my God, Oh my God. I don’t know what they did to you.”  She then took pictures and ran them over to a nearby health facility where tribal police were requested to meet with her.

The tribal police, FBI, and Traversie’s pastor all have photographs of the suspicious wounds.

Traversie said nothing is being done on his behalf by law enforcement and that the doctor who saw him at the nearby health facility said she could not make any statements about his injuries.

He explained that he has waited for seven months for his Rapid City attorney to take action on his behalf.  He said he posted the above video because his attorney took no action and had told him not to speak about his case.

He told Last Real Indians, “Not all white people are like this, but I don’t think this should be allowed to go on.

Traversie has no resources for an attorney but did say council member Ryman Lebeau and Tribal Chairman Kevin Keckler are trying to get an attorney for him.

Traversie concluded, “Those Ks are causing me pain still. And, I have to live with that on my stomach the rest of my life.”

(Contact Evelyn Red Lodge at

A Facebook page has been set up to show support for Vern Traversie:  Justice For Vern