Dances With Wolves actor to be charged with sexual assault, sex trafficking

Nathan Chasing Horse, an actor who appeared in the Oscar-winning film Dances With Wolves who is accused of leading a cult, could be facing multiple felonies and life in prison after police said he sexually assaulted young Indigenous girls and took multiple wives during a period spanning two decades, court records obtained by The Associated Press show.

Authorities in Las Vegas have not said when Nathan Chasing Horse will be formally charged

Police officers congregate beside a pickup in North Las Vegas.
Las Vegas police work near the home of former actor Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse, who goes by Nathan Chasing Horse, on Tuesday in North Las Vegas. Nevada authorities raided the home of the Dances With Wolves actor in connection with a sexual assault investigation. (John Locher/The Associated Press)

A former Dances With Wolves actor accused of leading a cult could be facing multiple felonies and life in prison after police said he sexually assaulted young Indigenous girls and took multiple wives during a period spanning two decades, court records obtained by The Associated Press show.

As of Wednesday, Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse, who goes by Nathan Chasing Horse, will be charged with at least two counts of sex trafficking and one count each of sexual assault of a child younger than 16, child abuse or neglect and sexual assault, according to the records. Authorities have not said when he will be formally charged.

If convicted on the two counts of sex trafficking, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, and he could get life behind bars for a conviction on either of the sexual assault charges.

Meanwhile, police at a First Nation in Alberta said Wednesday they have been working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for weeks to identify potential victims in the province.

The Tsuut'ina Nation Police Service said in a statement released Wednesday they are also working with Calgary police to review historical sexual assault files.

Taken into custody Tuesday

A man poses for a mug shot after being arrested.
Chasing Horse was arrested in Las Vegas Tuesday and charged with six offences. He also has connections to Alberta, having shot a movie in Calgary. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

Las Vegas police took Chasing Horse into custody Tuesday afternoon as he left the North Las Vegas home that, according to the warrant, he shares with his five wives.

He was booked before midnight into Clark County's jail, where he remained held without bail on the sexual assault charges Wednesday morning.

Three women were seen detained outside Chasing Horse's home Tuesday evening as detectives searched the property, but police have not released details of any potential charges against them or their relationship to Chasing Horse.

Known for his role as the young Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film Dances With Wolves, Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes across the U.S. and Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies and, police allege, used his position to abuse young Native American girls.

The 46-year-old actor was also in the 2007 HBO film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which was shot in Calgary.

Arrest result of months-long investigation

His arrest was the culmination of a months-long investigation that began after the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department received a tip in October 2022.

And it comes as state attorneys general and lawmakers around the U.S. are looking into creating specialized units to handle cases involving Native American women.

An Indigenous man with braided hair and an earring wearing a dark jacket.
Chasing Horse is seen in this May 2007 photo at a film premiere in Rapid City, S.D. (Dick Kettlewell/Rapid City Journal/The Associated Press)

In South Dakota, where police said some of Chasing Horse's alleged crimes had occurred, the attorney general's office has put a new focus on crimes against Native American people, including human trafficking and murders.

According to a search warrant obtained by The Associated Press, Chasing Horse is believed to be the leader of a cult known as The Circle.

Las Vegas police noted in the warrant that they have identified at least six alleged victims and uncovered sexual allegations against Chasing Horse dating to the early 2000s in multiple states, including Montana, South Dakota and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade.

According to the warrant, he was banished in 2015 from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Mont., amid allegations of human trafficking.

There was no lawyer listed for Chasing Horse who could comment on his behalf as of Wednesday morning. He is due in court Thursday in North Las Vegas.

Chasing Horse, 46, 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.

Alleged victims as young as 13

"Nathan Chasing Horse used spiritual traditions and their belief system as a tool to sexually assault young girls on numerous occasions," detectives wrote in the warrant, adding that his followers believed he could communicate with higher beings and referred to him as "Medicine Man" or "Holy Person."

Some of the alleged victims were as young as 13, according to the warrant. One of Chasing Horse's wives was allegedly offered to him as a "gift" when she was 15, while another became a wife after turning 16.

Chasing Horse also is accused of recording sexual assaults and arranging for victims to have sex with other men who paid him.

Although the warrant includes details of crimes reported elsewhere, the arrest Tuesday stems from crimes allegedly committed in Nevada's Clark County.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

With files from Meghan Grant