March, rally underway for Lakota man

2012-05-21T08:32:00Z 2012-05-21T13:14:07Z March, rally underway for Lakota manHolly Meyer Journal staff Rapid City Journal
May 21, 2012 8:32 am  • 

About 300 people from Pine Ridge, Rapid City, Eagle Butte and Wounded Knee are marching from Memorial Park to Rapid City Regional Hospital to raise awareness of and to protest the alleged Vern Traversie incident.

Traversie, who is blind, alleges he was mutilated while undergoing surgery. His allegation is based on the description of his surgical scars others have provided to him. Rapid City police said they investigated Traversie's claim and did not find enough evidence to pursue charges.

“This is going to end today,” said American Indian Movement founder Dennis Banks referring to hate and racism. “We will not be sending our people to Rapid City Regional Hospital.”

At 1 p.m. the group was marching up Fifth Street resulting in minor traffic issues.

The group has a permit and is being escorted by police.

Check back for more information later today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) Comments

  1. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 22, 2012 12:08 pm
    He was already medically examined. Also if you compare his pictures to others, or even show them to other health care professionals you'll see not all those wounds are supposed to be there. Did you read the articles or see his youtube video? I wouldn't be so quick to cut down a matter like this as serious as it is.
  2. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 22, 2012 12:07 pm
    Look deeper please. Not all of those scars are supposed to be there, regardless of intentional KKK. Something DID happen here. Have you read the articles and watched his youtube video?
  3. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 22, 2012 12:05 pm
    Did you read the articles and watch his youtube video?
  4. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 22, 2012 11:47 am
    "get real" is no counter argument. Like I said this has happened before, it is not an isolated incident in this field. Why are you so apt to dismiss this as paranoia. Do some research please instead of having a knee jerk response.
  5. rose marie yellow horse
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    rose marie yellow horse - May 22, 2012 2:45 am
    Well I believe racist will always be in Rapid City, nothing will change unless something dramatic happens again. Look at those teenage girl's who got off easy doing hate crimes to our young natives walking down the street. So why do some of you say there is no racism going on, your living a lie. And yeah we all believe Mr. Traversie because he is an elder and a veteran.
  6. cc88
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    cc88 - May 22, 2012 1:07 am
    Thank you.
  7. WildOglala73
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    WildOglala73 - May 21, 2012 10:45 pm
    right on!!..some people just have small minds...they don't want to look at the big picture...
  8. WildOglala73
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    WildOglala73 - May 21, 2012 10:43 pm
    this is what you call UNITING NATIVE AS ONE...we all need to stand together...this is could of happen to you...if you experience back lash then you experience racism... prejudiced...then you turn a blind eye to it...we're fighting for our peoples rights...were doing something about it...
  9. WildOglala73
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    WildOglala73 - May 21, 2012 10:38 pm
    that someone who planted that into Vern Traversie head was a white nurse...and it wasn't on his chest it was on his check the facts before you say anything...
  10. rcsdlakota
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    rcsdlakota - May 21, 2012 10:36 pm
    Aho, as a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation I fully support a full investigation into this matter. We cannot be satisfied with if these are "likely tape burns". This sounds like an RCRH employee trying to defend their employer, great job. We now all see how one is quick to fall back on these government protections, this is not new to us Lakotas as you know. I understand these federal safeguards prevent defense of the individuals who may / may not be involved, that does mean this does not deserve a committee to fully probe and report it's findings. My initial but not only focus would be on the nurse/caretaker who first told Mr. Traversie that he needed to record this information as soon as returned home. What is the motive for this type of statement? If this is a claim that proves to be false, then hold wolf-crier accountable. If this is not a false claim, be honest my people, what will be done? Nothing. My question is where was the True Service to any incidents of injustice done to our people? Have you not taken this into consideration or have you not done your own research on why My People feel this way. I Respect Your opinion, respect Ours.

    Let it be Known,
    Mitakuye Oyasin
    RCSD Lakota
  11. Toad
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    Toad - May 21, 2012 10:15 pm
    Wow...a board certified cardiologist is going to put a multi-million dollar career on the line to put KKK on a patient? Get real! I am embarrassed for those protestors...this is one of the most ridiculous stories I have ever heard in my life. Maybe if AIM would focus on positive events rather than drumming up ignorant myths they would have the support of all the Native peoples. This just plain makes them look silly and completely uneducated.
  12. Kernall
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    Kernall - May 21, 2012 9:59 pm

    I don't think Vern is to blame at all in this. I think he's been talked into this whole process and frankly, those surrounding him are to blame.

    Again, what you're talking about here would be a MASSIVE conspiracy involving nurses and surgeons, all who risk losing their licenses forever not to mention jail time for something like this.
  13. evanescent7077
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    evanescent7077 - May 21, 2012 9:43 pm
    Have to pay for the backlash? In what way. I've had family member who have been in and out of Regional Hospital for one reason or another. The fact is sometimes you get lucky with a good team of health care workers and sometimes its miserable. When someone has a bad experience there, we should know. The incidents should be reported, posted, and hopefully the offender fired.
  14. nighthawk89
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    nighthawk89 - May 21, 2012 9:25 pm
    Mr. Traversie those marks on your stomach are from tubes, drains and tape burns. My husband had major stomach surgery and he, too, had tape burns. Rapid City Regional is a good hospital with many caring employees. Please stop all this hype that is going on....and thank those caring doctors, nurses, and technicians that saved your life!
  15. Constantlearn
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    Constantlearn - May 21, 2012 8:46 pm
    I find it hard to believe that Mr. Traversie was intentionally marked with the letters KKK. I also find it interesting that this whole situation has turned into an issue of "race". Isn't it always an issue when a Native American is arrested, beaten or mistreated? What about when white people who are arrested, beaten or mistreated. Racism is every where, sadly to say, but to try and make this into a three-ring circus is ridiculous and sad. I actually drove by the hospital when the rally was under way. Two Native American ladies were trying to cross the street and they walked in front of my vehicle as I was turning. They threw their hands into the air and called me a racial slur. Now, should I have a rally to protest their racism towards me? I hope Mr. Traversie is healed and doing well, however... I do not believe today's rally was about him. It was about a few Native Americans who have a huge chip on their shoulder and just want to complain and do not want to see change or at least try and make it better for themselves and for all races. In the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"
  16. dirk mudslinger
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    dirk mudslinger - May 21, 2012 8:02 pm
    I am Lakota and I have had a bypass done at RCRH. I was treated with respect and had no problems whatsoever. I had the "zipper" and two chest tubes. The tubes are actually sewn in place and to have them removed, they need the stiches snipped and then they are pulled free. There are no "tape burns" as no tape is used. Please search for images of said surgery and you can see for this for yourself. I cannot say what happened to Mr. Traversie as I was not present. I do feel that someone should investigate to find out exactly what happened. In regards to the protestors, I would have hoped that instead of a protest, they would have gone to talk to someone in charge regarding their concerns. this type of protests creates more racial tension than helps.
  17. ITU2012
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    ITU2012 - May 21, 2012 7:55 pm
    OK well I was there for the march and found something out...4 other people have had instances of someone coming into their room at regional and tampering with wounds and they were not all native...NO I don't think it's a doctor nor any current staff...However I do think the hospital and RCPD need to look into the possibility that we have someone tampering with patients at regional. Also a big Wopila (Thank you) out to the rcpd, deputies and everyone for the support and for keeping this a incident free event. We all live here and share the same things we all enjoy...does racism exist in Rapid? Yes it does...we'll stop it through understanding and respecting those things that make us different. anyway thats my 2 cents worth.... take care of each other out there...
  18. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 21, 2012 7:13 pm
    Look deeper into the situation. Have you done this already? Compare the pictures to others or ask someone in the medical field. Some of these scars are NOT supposed to be there. Vern did not just assume this was done to him for no reason. A hospital worker TOLD him this happened. Read the article on him or watch his youtube video.
  19. Illumination111
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    Illumination111 - May 21, 2012 7:09 pm
    First off have any of you researched this problem or are you merely speculating based on your current knowledge? When I first heard about this story I wasn't quick to judge but rather did a little research. I looked up pictures online of post heart surgery and even showed the picture to someone who worked for a cardiologist for 30 years. None of the pictures online even come close to Vern's wounds. The person I had look at the picture said some of those scars are supposed to be there and some of them are NOT.

    He has ALREADY been medically examined people. Some of you are assuming he's lying or paranoid about a "conspiracy". I'd like to know why your knee jerk reaction is to assume this. Did you read the article or watch his video? People in the hospital told him this happened. He has no record of doing this sort of thing for attention, he's an old blind man. This is NOT the first time this has happened. There was an article about a surgeon in New York who did something similar.

    My advice to you all is to look deeply into things before forming your opinion. This goes for any situation in your life. Feel free to contact me on email or facebook.
  20. ProudNativesWife
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    ProudNativesWife - May 21, 2012 6:32 pm
    My husband, who is a Lakota from Porcupine, SD, was in a horrible motorcycle accident and was taken to Rapid City Regional Hospital. He was in a coma for 21/2 weeks, received numerous surgeries and was hospitalized for a month. During this time we were treated with the up most respect, and given the best care one could ask for. After seeing the photos of the scars for ourselves from many different angles, one could clearly see that there is no intentional "KKK" carved onto Mr. Traversie, but merely cardiac surgical scars. We are very aware that racism is alive and well in Rapid City, and had this story held any truth we would be one of the first ones along in the march. However, it is instances like this that will only create a greater divide between two races, for the patients that are receiving care, and also for those who may need care in the future. Every morning the head nurse came to my husbands room, in person, and asked how he was and made sure all his needs were being met. We would strongly recommend Rapid City Regional Hospital to anyone needing great care. THANK YOU RAPID CITY REGIONAL HOSPITAL!
  21. Native Thoughts
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    Native Thoughts - May 21, 2012 4:55 pm
    I live and grew up on the PR reservation. I myself can say that my people here want racism to stop and want to be treated equal. But in all reality there are people here on our reservation are as racist to other races. Our people have been oppressed to a point where they are doing the oppressing to their own. I would be there supporting this cause if I actually believed there were KKK written on his chest. But from my observation I see no such thing. Our people always eat up the chance to get into the spot light and be on television not matter the cost. Even if it means making our people look bad as a whole. Racism has to spot in our communities and in our own minds before we can request it from other. I'm happy Mr. Traversie made it through his surgery and pray for a speedy recovery and hope he goes onto living a longer and healthier life. Lets stand up for our people for the right reasons. Stop following these spiders that lead us down the wrong paths.
  22. rapidlovinit
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    rapidlovinit - May 21, 2012 4:32 pm
    very well spoken!!
  23. Chevitz
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    Chevitz - May 21, 2012 4:13 pm
    Very succinctly put. Thank you for pointing out how fast a group mentality can override common sense and real action.
  24. prairiemutt
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    prairiemutt - May 21, 2012 3:31 pm
    Well since Tasunke Yaonihanpi has asked to be called names, I'll go ahead and be the first. You are a wonderfully intelligent human, a wise beyond years individual who thinks for himself. Your a person who thinks, and looks, before he speaks. You think as an individual, not as a member of a group. I couldn't agree more with your comment.

    I think someone "planted" the "KKK" idea in this blind man's head. Knowing full well he could never see for himself what shape the scars do or do not resemble.

    And as far as the AIM folks coming to RC, sounds like a good opportunity for a heck of a sound bite on the local TV news cast. Can't wait to see/read the headlines in the news after the rally is over.

    Perhaps you could visit Mr. Traversie and inform him that his surgery scars don't resemble anything more than surgery scars. He may listen to such an intelligent individual as you. And then all the nonsense might go away. Thanks for such a great comment. It's sure nice to know that there a few smart people still in SD.
  25. law_abiding_citizen
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    law_abiding_citizen - May 21, 2012 2:23 pm
    ...i am at lost for words...i been a citizen of rapid city for all my life (37yrs) i think if anything they need to look into Soo San Hospital here...i am also Native american and i really think that all this marching and rallying is crazy!!! these people come from other places and are people who actually dont live here! this is crazy and i dont want no part of it! as it is with all this type drama us citizens here that BEEN HERE ALL OUR LIVES pay for the backlash!!
  26. MamaBear1
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    MamaBear1 - May 21, 2012 2:01 pm
    I totally agree! And YES, very well stated!
  27. 32inSD
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    32inSD - May 21, 2012 1:36 pm
    Well said, Tasunke Yaonihanpi. This sort of knee-jerk reacting does a disservice to true incidents of racism and violence against Lakota.
  28. turtle97tj
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    turtle97tj - May 21, 2012 1:35 pm
    I was going to comment on this but you said all that can be said about it. I am a proud Lakota and agree with you whole heartedly on this!!
  29. tko
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    tko - May 21, 2012 12:21 pm
    Well said.. I think you are right on the mark.
  30. ed raths
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    ed raths - May 21, 2012 12:00 pm
    please we all know that dennis an clyde only show up when the truth has to be shown to all the world or it,s a great photo op. but i believe the last is most likely. ed raths sturgis
  31. Tasunke Yaonihanpi
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    Tasunke Yaonihanpi - May 21, 2012 10:57 am
    I have never before been moved to comment on a RCJ story, but this is really too much.

    Here on the Rez (Pine Ridge), I feel like I hear about this everywhere I go. Many of my friends have posted this picture on Facebook, "evidence" of the terrible "crime" that was supposedly committed at Rapid City Regional.

    And many of these friends of mine are smart people, educated people, accomplished people...people who, as far as I can tell, have a basic understanding of critical thinking.

    But I'm not buying it.

    Everyone who shares the picture refers to the supposed "KKK" carving, but take a deep breath and look at the picture again. Do you really see KKK? Or are you just getting caught up in the hysteria? I see a scar that looks like a K, and another near it that looks like a bent line, and a couple of other various scars from the surgery. If I had not been "told" that the scars supposedly looked like three K's, I never would have come to that conclusion myself.

    It is like when people post their photos of supposed faces or animal shapes in clouds. Wishful thinking, but no more concrete than that. Admit it people, only one of those scars looks remotely like a "K".

    And how and why did this supposed "crime" happen, in your minds? A doctor thought, "Hmm, I think I'll carve 'KKK' into a patient's stomach and get away with it!" As if the doc would have been alone in the surgery. Or is it a vast conspiracy among all of the hospital staff who, if you haven't noticed, are lots of races other than white? What kind of bizarre world do you live in?

    Really, this march is an example of the bandwagon effect, and a groupthink mentality. One person's paranoid delusion infects others, and soon enough, we're got a big rally with all of the usual never-miss-a-rally megaphone-holding fist-in-the-air crowd out in force.

    I thought that things couldn't get any more embarrassing than when the grassroots crew protested the trucks that were NOT (oops!) associated with the Keystone Pipeline project. Or maybe it was that same week when our veep got arrested for public intoxication and then blamed it on cold medicine. But no...this takes the cake.

    I saw a posting on Facebook that claimed "Vern Traversie is the Raymond Yellow Thunder of 2012". Really? That is an insult both to Raymond's memory, and common sense.

    (Although if any of the protesters cares to read the recently-published book, "The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder", they can see that there were plenty of examples of this bandwagon-protest mentality even back in 1972. Some of the same folks, too.)

    This is not to say that racism doesn't exist. I have been on the receiving end of racism and profiling. Discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry are a central vein of American history, and they continue strongly (although diminishing) even today. But the actions of these "activists", who leave their common sense at the door, do a disservice to all of us. They discredit their own movement (over and over again), and then when there are ACTUAL racial incidents, they have cried wolf too many times for people to listen.

    There are plenty of us down here on the Rez who will not be up protesting today. But that is a non-news story so I guess you won't hear much from us in the media. I'm sure there will be a lot of responses calling me all kinds of traitorous names for not going along with this "righteous cause", but so be it.

    All I can say to the protesters is, you had better be VERY SURE that you are on the right side of this issue, and that you are 100% RIGHT about what was supposedly done to Mr. Traversie. If not, will you be willing to publicly say that you were wrong?

    If I am wrong, and it turns out that the man was racially vandalized, I will be the first to eat crow.

    We are a long way from having a healthy racial dialogue here in the state of South Dakota. A lot of that is due to racism passed down among white people through the generations. But a large amount is also due to those of us who assume that all white people are racist and all white institutions are out to get us. Maybe history has just left us with a collective pathology.

    Ho hecetu welo. Tasunke Yaonihanpi miye yelo.
  32. 32inSD
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    32inSD - May 21, 2012 9:41 am
    Anyone who has actually seen a patient who has undergone cardiac surgery knows those "mutilations" are likely tape burns which frequently appear on patients who require chest tubes. The hospital can't comment further due to HIPAA, so the employees involved can't publicly defend themselves. Are we to believe there is a giant conspiracy between the surgeons and the dozens of people who must have been in the room during Mr. Traversie's surgery and involved with his post-op care? This story is completely ridiculous.
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