Dave is conducting important and fascinating research which aims to expose the Western mental health movement’s historical and contemporary complicity in the oppression of indigenous people. You can find his writings on the excellent website Mad In America.
Please check out Dave’s latest article Horse-Stealing Mania: The Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians. Here’s a short excerpt:
'Alvin Abner Big Man was Lakota, and a ‘reservation policeman’ from Rosebud Reservation. He was first diagnosed with Horse-Stealing Mania by the reservation agent, Charles Davis, after he refused to plead guilty to stealing horses.
Mr. Davis suggested that Alvin’s “erratic behavior” in jail made him better suited for an institution for the insane. In 1913, Alvin was forcibly committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC. He’s described in St. Elizabeth’s records as “uniformly good and free from any gross disorder.”
However, the doctors at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital were not entirely confident in the Horse Stealing Mania diagnosis, and so they agreed to continue housing Alvin only temporarily.
They couldn’t think of a better diagnosis and decided to write to the Indian Commissioners that: “in view of our inability to definitely come to a conclusion about this man, on account of the conflicting stories in the case, we would suggest that he be transferred to an institution near his home.” Such was the conscientiousness back then that the St. Elizabeth’s psychiatrists wanted Alvin off their caseload.
So in 1916, Alvin was transferred to the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians. He was examined by its superintendent, Dr. Harry Hummer, with Constitutional Inferiority. This label may sound obscure but Alvin was seen as apparently having a penchant for communicating amorously toward women at the Asylum, and he was violating eugenics-based rules forbidding fraternization between the sexes:’
By the way, you’ll see reference to Dave’s book Tessa’s Dance in his bio. I’ve read the book and can highly recommend it. It’s an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.