NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) — A former “Dances With Wolves” actor was arraigned Monday in Nevada on felony charges that he sexually abused and trafficked Indigenous girls, but testimony from investigators and victims before a judge addressed Nathan Chasing Horse’s bail was postponed.
The delay until Wednesday to allow Chasing Horse, 46, to change lawyers was announced in a North Las Vegas courtroom full of his friends and relatives who had hoped to see him released on bail.
On the opposite side of the courtroom, some of Chasing Horse’s alleged victims and their supporters held signs reading “NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS” and “WOMEN AREN’T PRISONERS.”
Rulon Pete, executive director of the Las Vegas Indian Center, said after the hearing that the victims had been prepared “to help out with making sure justice has been served.”
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of anxiety they’re experiencing,” he told The Associated Press after speaking with the victims and prosecutors. “When this got pushed back, it was like adding more weight to the situation.”
Chasing Horse has been held without bail since his Jan. 31 arrest near the North Las Vegas home he shares with several wives. He is charged with eight felonies, including sex trafficking, sexual assault against a child younger than 16, and child abuse. Prosecutors also filed an additional felony charge against him in connection with what detectives said were videos saved on a phone showing sexual assaults of a minor.
He has not entered a plea. In Nevada, defendants do not enter a plea until their criminal case is bound over to a state district court, either after a grand jury indictment or after a judge decides prosecutors have enough evidence for the defendant to stand trial.
He appeared briefly in court last Thursday but did not speak as his public defenders invoked his right to a detention hearing. Nevada law requires prosecutors to present convincing evidence that a defendant should remain in custody.
Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jessica Walsh told the judge Thursday that she expected testimony from Las Vegas police detectives, FBI special agents and victims. A North Las Vegas justice of the peace could also hear from Chasing Horse’s relatives.
Chasing Horse played the role of Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film.
Since then, he has built a reputation among tribes across the United States and in Canada as a “medicine man.” Detectives described him in a search warrant as the leader of a cult known as The Circle, whose followers believed he could communicate with higher powers.
Pete, of the Las Vegas Indian Center, described the role of the medicine man in their culture as a highly respected leadership post. “They’re like priests, if you will.”
“You follow what they teach,” he said, adding that the victims have shown great courage by speaking out despite the intimidation and threats Pete said they have faced since Chasing Horse’s arrest.
Las Vegas police said Chasing Horse abused his position, physically and sexually assaulted Indigenous girls, and took underage wives over two decades. He also was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, in 2015 following similar allegations.
The crimes, police said, span multiple states including South Dakota, Montana and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade.
According to the search warrant, Chasing Horse trained his wives to use firearms and instructed them to “shoot it out” with any authorities who tried to “break their family apart.” If that failed, or if he was ever arrested or died unexpectedly, he told his wives to take “suicide pills,” the document said.
After SWAT officers took Chasing Horse into custody last week, detectives searched the family’s home and found guns, 41 pounds (18.5 kilograms) of marijuana, and psilocybin mushrooms, according to his arrest report.
A criminal complaint released Monday also charges Chasing Horse with two misdemeanors in connection with a dead bald eagle and parts of a dead hawk discovered during the search of his property.
Police said at least six victims had been identified, including one who was 13 when she said she was abused, and another who said she was offered to Chasing Horse as a “gift” when she was 15.
Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.