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Indigenous & Latina Women & Children's Human Rights News from the Americas 


Indigenous North America
Women & Children at Risk
Title: Catholic Church Will be Served with Federal Lawsuit
Publisher: Black Hills People's News
Publish Date: 2003-March Edition
From URL: http://www.dlncoalition.org/dln_issues/2003march12.htm

PINE RIDGE--Mr. Gary Frischer was in Pine Ridge this week. Frischer is a Multi-District Litigation Consultant. Mr. Frischer said that Attorney Jeffrey Herman, who has previously and successfully sued the Catholic Church, is representing hundreds of Lakota who have been sexually, mentally and physically abused.

"It's about the alleged stripping of the Lakota Culture from many children who attended Catholic schools in the past," Frischer said. "And the federal lawsuit will be filed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on 17 March."

When Frischer was asked how long he's been around here, he answered, "I came here in September to do research, so we have solid legs to stand on. This is my fifth trip here, every two or three weeks I'm here. And what I have found is that the Catholic Church, including Holy Rosary, has completely derailed a culture. Our goal is to reflect what has happened to these Indian people. I have always said, if Indian people want to practice their traditions, they should be allowed to do so."

When asked if he and Attorney Herman were accustomed to major lawsuits such as this, he answered, "I have been at this for 23 years, and this is the best lawsuit I've been involved in. I did the DuPont Fire and the Union Carbide lawsuit in India. We did the litigation on the Lockerbie, Scotland, terrorist attack. Another high-profile lawsuit we did was the MIA Act of Congress."

BHPNEWS: The Catholic Church has lost a lot of credibility in the past few years.

"With all the sexual abuse lawsuits the Catholic Church has been involved in," Frischer said, "the Church has lost all credibility. And that is in our favor. We have discovered the U.S. government allegedly made secret payments for children to attend St. Francis. The government paid for children to go to that school. And the school is supposed to be independently funded. That's concealment."

BHPNEWS: Will a successful lawsuit shut down the Catholic schools in Indian country?

Frischer said no, the schools will still be there and operating. The U.S. government honors treaty stipulations; therefore, the government will keep them running.

BHPNEWS: Abuse of children in Catholic schools is so well know, I'm surprised a lawsuit like this hasn't come forward years ago.

"People elsewhere don't care," Frischer said. "If people elsewhere, white people, went through what the Indian people went through due to the Catholic Church, they would have had the church in court years ago. And the lawsuits would have driven the Church out of business. It's time for justice here. Two years ago we couldn't have successfully done this. Timing is everything now. This lawsuit will bring change to the whole Indian world."

BHPNEWS: This lawsuit will be high profile?

"Yes," Frischer answered, "people everywhere need to know what happened during and after colonization. To see that maybe these people, who brought and forced Christianity on the people, weren't so holy. To make the lawsuit high profile, the minute the lawsuit is filed in Sioux Falls, we will go to worldwide media. Worldwide media has already been notified."

When asked what drives his consulting firm and law team to seek out these cases, Frischer replied, "I love doing these projects. These horrors, allegedly inflicted on one group of people, need to be dealt with in litigation; then the grieving and healing can begin. There was so much oppression of your people. I have interviewed so many Indian people, and the same names of priests and nuns keep popping up. When these priests and nuns bot out of hand, the Church just transferred them; just transferred the problem to a different area."

BHPNEWS: In history books, I have read where the Catholics basically traded souls for soil.

"According to the 1868 Treaty," Frischer said, "the schools were brought to the Indians to teach English. And that was it. Schools weren't allowed to convert Indian people to Christianity. And they definitely weren't set up to inflict sexual, physical and mental torture. And they definitely weren't set up to destroy a nation of people and their culture. The people never asked for a holocaust."

Mr. Frischer hosted an informational meeting/supper at Wapamni CAP this past Tuesday. His flyer read:

If you are interested in joining the hundred of Oyate that are pursuing this litigation, please attend this important meeting. For more information, please call Floyd Hand at 867-5762.

Mr. Frischer can also be reached at 605-384-5100 or gfomedia.com