A lawyer for a Native American man who claims the letters 'KKK' were carved into his stomach during surgery has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the hospital where the operation took place, its board of directors and others.
YouTube videos featuring 69-year-old Vern Traversie, a Lakota man who lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation, went viral in Native American communities earlier this year.
In them, Traversie talks about being mistreated at the South Dakota hospital and shows his abdomen. Though he himself is blind, Traversie says he was told by others that the scars left after his heart surgery form the letters.
'Defendants injured, carved, burned, and/or cared for Plaintiff's abdomen in such a manner that scars resembling three letters "K" were permanently placed on Plaintiff's abdomen for no medically necessary purpose or reason, and in the process injured, carved, burned, and/or cared for other portions of Plaintiff's body to cause injury, specifically his abdomen and back
Traversie said he hadn't been aware the lawsuit was filed on Monday, although he knew a lawyer was planning to file one at some point on his behalf.
'I think the Native people have been fighting racial hatred for many years in South Dakota, but you know, it's not all the people that are hateful toward Native Americans,' said Traversie, who recently had another heart surgery in Bismarck, North Dakota.
'We have a good segment of our society -- white society -- in South Dakota that are Christian people and they get along good with the Native Americans. In my instance, I believe I'm dealing with the Ku Klux Klan, and that's a small minority.'
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