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April 05, 2018 06:06 PM

Preview: South Dakota's Secret Past

Rapid City

It's something we thought ended generations ago:  children being bought and sold in this country.

But the reality, that's been left out of the history books, is that it was still happening in the 1950s and 1960s.

A viral social media post of a letter from 1952 from a South Dakota Catholic orphanage details the sale of a Native American child for just $10.

What we’ve tracked down may surprise you.    

Back in 2010, two dozen Native Americans sued the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls claiming decades of physical and sexual abuse by priests and nuns at the Tekakwitha Orphanage in Sisseton. 

That lawsuit was thrown out because of a South Dakota law that prohibits anyone over the age of 40 from suing for abuse as a child. 

An attempt to change that law failed in this last legislative session

Dennis Seely had joined in that lawsuit. He was kidnapped from his family as a baby and placed in the orphanage. 

He shared some of the horrible things he says happened to him there at the hands of the nuns and priest who ran the orphanage.

At the age of five, he and another child escaped the orphanage and went looking for their parents in Sisseton, only to be returned to the facility by police. 

"When I got back, I got my beating.  I was put into a closet and that's where I spent until about 7 that night--no food, no nothing," Seely said.

But it's what happened to Seely after that incident that is getting all the attention today.
Coming up on tonight's Eye on KELOLAND investigation we show you the documents he kept from that time period which prove his story is true.

What happened to him is far from an isolated incident. It was a federal policy that's been left out of the history books: "Kill the Indian in order to save the man." was the motto.  

At 10 as we expose South Dakota's Secret Past, Seely tells us how was robbed of his Native identity.

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