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Friday, April 11, 2003 (AP)
Six American Indians sue government for alleged abuse at Indian schools
CHET BROKAW, Associated Press Writer


Six members of Sioux tribes have filed a $25 billion lawsuit against the government for alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse of students at Indian boarding schools nationwide. The suit seeks damages and class-action status on behalf of all students allegedly abused in the past century at the schools, most of which were run by churches or other religious groups. The government failed in its duty to protect students sent to the schools, the lawsuit says. In treaties with many tribes, the government promised to reimburse Indians for wrongs done by non-Indians, the suit notes. Other lawsuits will be filed against the churches or religious organizations that ran boarding schools, lawyers said. The six plaintiffs allege they were beaten and sexually assaulted by priests or nuns who ran the schools. Sherwyn Zephier said he was beaten when he attended St. Paul's boarding school in Marty, S.D. "I was tortured in the middle of the night," Zephier said Thursday at a news conference in Los Angeles. "When I saw one of my relatives being sexually abused, I tried to run and I was caught." Spokesmen for the Interior and Justice departments either said they had not yet seen the lawsuit Friday or were not ready to comment on it. Jerry Klein, chancellor of the Sioux Falls Diocese of the Catholic Church, said the diocese was not directly involved in running the St. Paul's school.
 
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