‘Dances With Wolves’ actor due in court in sex abuse probe

By RIO YAMAT – Associated Press

NORTH LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Dances With Wolves actor who faces at least five felonies for allegedly sexually abusing Indigenous girls is reported to appear in the case for the first time on Thursday be put before a judge.

The possible charges against Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, include sex trafficking and sexual assault, according to court documents. Clark County prosecutors have not said when they will formally charge him or if additional charges will be filed.

Las Vegas police arrested Chasing Horse this week after a month-long investigation into the alleged abuse, which authorities say spanned two decades.

He was being held without bail at a Clark County jail on Wednesday night on sexual assault charges. A judge is expected to consider his detention status on Thursday and could set bail.

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Known for his role as a young member of the Sioux tribe Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning film directed by Kevin Costner, Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes in the United States and Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies.

He is believed to be the leader of a cult called The Circle with a strong following of people who believed he could communicate with higher powers, according to a warrant.

Police said he abused his position, physically and sexually assaulted Indigenous girls and women, took underage wives and led the sect. He was arrested outside the home he shares with his five wives near Las Vegas.

Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation.

A 50-page search warrant obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday claimed Chasing Horse trained its wives to use firearms and directed them to “shoot it down” with cops if they tried to “break up their family.” If this failed, the wives should take “suicide pills.”

He was taken into custody while leaving his home in north Las Vegas. SWAT officers were seen outside the two-story home in the evening as detectives searched the property.

Police found firearms, 41 pounds (18.5 kilograms) of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, and a memory card containing multiple sexual assault videos, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

Further charges could be brought in connection with the videos of the underage girls, the report said.

Court filings did not list an attorney who could speak for him, and Las Vegas police said Chasing Horse was “unable” to give a prison interview Wednesday.

Las Vegas police said in the search warrant that investigators had identified at least six sexual assault victims, including one who was 13 when she claims she was molested. Police also pursued sexual allegations against Chasing Horse into the early 2000s in Canada and in several states including South Dakota, Montana and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade.

One of Chasing Horse’s wives was offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15, police say, while another became a wife after she was 16. He is also accused of recording sexual assault and arranging sex between victims and other men paying him.

His arrest came nearly a decade after he was banned from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, on allegations of human trafficking.

Fort Peck tribal leaders voted 7-0 to ban Chasing Horse from entering the reservation in 2015, citing alleged drug trafficking and allegations of drug trafficking, spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members, Indian Country Today reported.

Angeline Cheek, an activist and community organizer who has lived on the Fort Peck Reservation most of her life, said she vividly recalled the tensions that arose in the council chambers when Chasing Horse was banned.

“Some of Nathan’s followers told the members something bad was going to happen to them,” Cheek told the AP. “They threatened our elders who sat in the council chambers.”

Cheek said she remembered Chasing Horse visiting the reservation frequently growing up, particularly during her high school years in the early 2000s when she would see him talking to her classmates.

Cheek, now 34, said she hopes Chasing Horse’s arrest will inspire more Indigenous girls and women to report crimes and push lawmakers and elected officials across the US to prioritize addressing anti-Indigenous violence.

But she also hopes that the cultural importance of the medicine men is not lost in the news about the crimes.

“There are good medicine men and women among our people who do not seek to commercialize the sacred ways of our ancestors,” she said. “They are meant to heal people, not harm them.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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