A Lakota man says he was the victim of a painful attack, at a place that should have been focused on making him better.
Now he has permanent scars that serve as a constant reminder of the racism he says, still exists in South Dakota.
The Eagle Butte man recently started sharing his story through social media, and is attracting national attention.
Vernon, Traversie, 68, happens to be blind.
He spent two weeks at Rapid City Regional Hospital following heart surgery.
But Traversie says he was discharged with more than just scars from the surgery, he was left with three k's on his stomach.
According to Traversie and others in Eagle Butte, three k's can be visibly seen on his stomach.
Traversie says he is the victim of a hate crime from a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.
He says the crime happened at Rapid City Regional Hospital where he was treated for a heart attack.
While recovering in the Intensive Care Unit, Traversie says a male nurse named Greg threatened him after asking for pain medications.
"I shut up and wouldn't ask for pain medication, but, I started to pray," Traversie said.
Traversie says after going through the ordeal he reported the male nurse and told a supervisor of the threats.
He says the day before he left the hospital a woman who works there told him to take pictures of his stomach and back as soon as he got home.
"A lot of people had to see those letters before I even knew about the, and that's why that lady, who must be some sort of a saint," Traversie said. "She must be a Christian person really. She came up to me and said that ya know, you need to have somebody take a picture."
The day after Traversie came home he asked his home-healthcare nurse to take those pictures.
He says she was shocked.
"She says Vern; I don't know what they did to you. She said it looks like a cat got on top of you and scratched almost every inch of your abdomen," Traversie said.
Traversie reported his injuries to Tribal Police and hospital officials from the Cheyenne River Health Center.
Both police and hospital officials say the wounds looked like stab wounds and some spots of his abdomen were severely burned.
The scars can still be seen months after the ordeal.
Traversie case was handed over to the Rapid City Police Department and FBI soon after the Tribal Police took statements and their own pictures.
The Rapid City Police conducted an investigation and say no criminal charges have been filed.
KSFY was able to speak with J.R. LaPlante.
He's the Secretary of Tribal Relations in South Dakota
While LaPlante says he's not aware of this case, it reinforces the fact that prejudice in the state still exists.
"There are attitudes out there of intolerance, attitudes of prejudice. So we will be continuing to combat this issue," LaPlante said.
Traversie says he's now left with scars and the letters KKK.
He says it's a physical reminder of the prejudice he experienced.
"It's something that's never gonna go away; what they did to me, because I can't explain it, but, my soul, my spirit has been wounded just as deep as those cuts in my skin," Traversie said.
Traversie is in the process of hiring an attorney.
The FBI told him they were going to take his statement and look into the allegations; he says he hasn't been contacted in months.
KSFY reached out to Rapid City Regional Hospital.
Rapid City Regional Hospital CEO Tim Sughrue said in a recent statement to KSFY:
"Rapid City Regional Hospital is committed to providing all patients, regardless of race or culture, with compassionate and exceptional care. We are unable to comment on a patient's treatment without consent. In the absence of permission, it is not possible to respond to specific questions."
"When patients submit complaints, we investigate them thoroughly and fully cooperate with outside regulatory organizations in their investigations."
"We hope all patients continue to seek the care they need at Rapid City Regional Hospital."
Tuesday, June 18 2013 5:10 PM EDT2013-06-18 21:10:52 GMT
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