A former Dances with Wolves actor who faces at least five felony charges for allegedly sexually abusing Indigenous girls was scheduled to face a judge on Thursday.
Possible charges against Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, include sex dealing and sexual assault, according to court records. Clark county prosecutors have not said when they will formally charge him or if more charges will be filed.
Las Vegas police arrested Chasing Horse this week, following an investigation into alleged abuse authorities said spanned two decades.
He remained held at a Clark county jail without bail on Wednesday evening. A judge on Thursday is expected to address his custody status and could set bail.
Known for his role as young Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film, Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes across the US and in Canada for performing healing ceremonies.
He is believed to be the leader of a cult known as the Circle, with a strong following of people who believed he could communicate with higher powers, according to an arrest warrant.
Police said he abused his position, physically and sexually assaulting girls and women, taking underage wives and leading the cult. 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 to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.
A 50-page search warrant claimed Chasing Horse trained his wives to use firearms, instructing them to “shoot it out” with police if they tried to “break their family apart”. If that failed, the wives were to take “suicide pills”.
He was taken into custody as he left his home in North Las Vegas. Swat officers were seen outside the two-story home as detectives searched it.
Police found firearms, 41lb of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms and a memory card with multiple videos of sexual assaults, according to an arrest report released on Wednesday. Additional charges could be filed in connection with the videos of the underage girls, the report said.
There was no lawyer listed in court records who could comment on his behalf. Las Vegas police said Chasing Horse was “unable” to give a jailhouse interview.
Police said in the search warrants investigators identified at least six sexual assault victims, including one who was 13 when she claims to have been abused. Police also traced sexual allegations against Chasing Horse to the early 2000s in Canada and in 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, according to police, while another became a wife after turning 16. He is accused of recording sexual assaults and arranging sex between victims and men who paid him.
His arrest comes nearly a decade after he was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, amid allegations of human trafficking.
In 2015, Fort Peck tribal leaders voted 7-0 to ban Chasing Horse from setting foot again on the reservation, citing the alleged trafficking and accusations of drug dealing, 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 clearly remembers tensions inside the council chambers when Chasing Horse was banished.
“Some of Nathan’s supporters told the members that something bad was going to happen to them,” Cheek said. “They made threats to our elders sitting in the council chambers.”
Cheek said she remembered Chasing Horse visiting the reservation frequently, especially during her high school years in the early 2000s when she would see him talking with 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 to prioritize addressing violence against native people.
She also hopes the cultural significance of medicine men doesn’t get lost in the news of the crimes.
“There are good medicine men and medicine women among our people who are not trying to commercialize the sacred ways of our ancestors,” she said. “They’re supposed to heal people, not harm.”