The arrest of accused cult leader Nathan Chasing Horse in North Las Vegas on allegations that he sexually abused Indigenous girls is bringing to light concerns facing their community.
We spoke to one tribal member offering insight into what they call an "alarming crime trend."
Nizhoni Widehat is Navajo, Northern Arapaho and Rosebud Lakota and works with the Native Voters Alliance in Nevada. They explained the impact of being taught from a young age to be mindful of predators.
"I always have to be safe. I always have to make sure that the women in my life are safe," Widehat said. "It's a terrible thing to know that if anything bad happens to me, I won't be looked for. It will likely not make the news, there likely won't be a rally for me. There will only be a Facebook post for a couple of weeks — and that's the reality of it."
A conversation they've had their whole life is now reignited by the arrest of Chasing Horse, who faces several felony counts, including sex trafficking and sexual abuse of a child. Investigators say his target was Indigenous women.
"This situation is extremely horrendous because it is one of our own preying on Native women," Widehat said.
In America, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. Murder is the third leading cause of death among Native women, according to the Red Road Institute , a nonprofit aimed at defending the rights of Tribal Nations and Indigenous people.
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The real problem, Widehat believes, comes from jurisdictional issues and which law enforcement agency investigates crimes against Indigenous people.
"Reservations, they have their own law and order codes and they have to adhere to federal law and are managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs," Widehat said.
In the case of Chasing Horse, police say he was banished by the Fort Peck Tribe for spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members. Widehat believes his behavior was likely well-known in the Indigenous community.
"He's been hopping from tribe to tribe. Each tribe pushes him out and out of their community," Widehat said.
Widehat argues the national attention this case has drawn exposes the need for law enforcement to work together when it comes to crimes against Indigenous people.
"More communities will cooperate and work together and benefit from these government agencies working together," Widehat said. "If we can make those connections, we can see more convictions, arrests, reporting accurately."
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