Colorado Hospital Acknowledges Haircutting Incident Involving Lakota Elder, Apologizes for Lack of Consent

Colorado Hospital Acknowledges Haircutting Incident Involving Lakota Elder, Apologizes for Lack of Consent

UC Health Hospital in Aurora, Colorado has finally admitted to cutting the hair of 65-year-old Lakota elder Arthur Janis without his or his family’s consent. The admission comes after two weeks of questioning by the Janis siblings and a week of protests by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) outside the hospital.

Keith Janis, the brother of Arthur Janis, stated that the hospital had been lying to his family since they began questioning the incident. However, on Friday, they finally confessed to cutting Art’s waist-length hair. Keith Janis had filed a police report with the Aurora Police Department and a detective was assigned to the case. Initially, the hospital staff refused to cooperate with the detective, stating that they needed written permission from the Janis family. However, after obtaining legal authorization, the detective was able to access the necessary information.

The next morning, the hospital called Keith Janis and admitted to cutting Art’s hair. They claimed that it was done to prevent bed sores and then discarded the hair. Art Janis, a traditional Lakota who does not believe in cutting his hair, had worn it long since childhood. The discovery of his hair being cut short was made during a video call with UCHealth staff.

Art Janis had been under the care of UCHealth since being flown from Rapids City, South Dakota in August. He was initially admitted to a hospital in Rapid City for abdominal pains caused by blood clots, but was later transferred to UCHealth for better medical treatment. While under their care, he suffered a heart attack and a stroke, leaving him unable to speak. His siblings have been making medical decisions on his behalf.

Keith Janis, who resides in South Dakota, intends to return to Colorado to support his brother and determine the family’s next steps, if any, against UCHealth. He has started a GoFundMe account to raise funds for travel expenses and further investigation into the incident.

UCHealth, despite this controversy, was recognized as the best hospital in Colorado for 2022-2023 by U.S. News & World Report.

Levi “Calm Before the Storm” Rickert, founder and editor of Native News Online, is the author of this article. He can be contacted at