Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA Crowds, reminiscent of 1960s and 1970s, took to the streets of Rapid City on Monday to draw attention to injustices against American Indian patients at the Rapid City Regional Hospital. Hundreds of American Indians marched two miles from Memorial Park to the hospital.
Dennis Banks Calls for Justice for Vern
Dennis Banks, a co-founder of the American Indian Movement, participated in Monday's events to help bring attention to the case involving a 68 year-old blind Lakota elder named Vern Traversie.
Mr. Traversie went into the Rapid City Regional Hospital for a heart surgery, but graphic photos taken by a nurse upon his return home indicates the procedures went far beyond normal medical care.
The pictures show three distinctive Ks - or KKK - on his abdomen.
Officials at the Rapid City Regional Hospital have continually dismissed the allegations. The hospital's dismissal has created an atmosphere of sheer mistrust of the medical facility by many American Indians, who live in South Dakota.
The crowd brought American Indians from several South Dakota reservations. Many wore red t-shirts with the message "Justice for Vern" in yellow letters.
“Rapid City, we understand you have been carving up our people. This is going to end today,”
declared Banks at a pre-march rally at Memorial Park.
The marchers were met with strong police who blocked traffic and entrance into the hospital.
“It was a wonderful day because when I looked out into the crowd, I saw young people there. Strong young people, who represent a new generation of those ready to stand up for American Indian rights, were out there. I would say, at least 70 percent were under 30 or 35 years old. It made me feel good,”
the elder American Indian Movement leader, Dennis Banks, told the Native News Network after the activities of the day.
Inside Meeting in Hospital
Protesters remained outside while leaders went inside
to meet with hospital officials.
A small group of protesters took part in a pre-arranged meeting with hospital officials to discuss the situation. The American Indians allowed inside the meeting were:
Dennis Banks, Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Tom Poor Bear, Chase Iron Eyes, part of the legal team representing Traversie and Cody Hall, one of Monday's organizers.
“I got a call about 5 o'clock on Friday asking if we would be willing to meet with hospital officials”,
Hall, Cheyenne River Sioux, told the Native News Network on Monday.
“So, we went in thinking we perhaps something good would come of the meeting,”
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posted May 22, 2012 8:50 am edt
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