Despite having a fashion-model daughter who is an outspoken activist for Native Americans — and even though a Montana tribe banished him from their reservation in 2015 — accused cult leader Nathan Chasing Horse apparently moved freely around the country for years, allegedly leaving a trail of mainly indigenous victims in his wake without repercussions.
The “Dances with Wolves” actor, 46, appeared briefly in court for the first time Thursday after he was arrested in North Las Vegas on charges of assaulting indigenous women and girls and leading a cult.
Two women in his apparent “cult” told police that Chasing Horse kept “suicide pills” in his home, and claimed he told them to “take a pill to kill themselves in the event he dies or law enforcement tries to break their family apart,” according to his arrest warrant.
Police also said one of his many wives was only 15 years old when she was offered to him as a “gift.” Chasing Horse also apparently armed the women in his life, according to the arrest record, and told them to shoot police should they try to arrest him.
But there’s also a lengthy online trail going back years, of dozens of impassioned blog posts, videos, a GoFundMe, and more that attest to Chasing Horse’s alleged exploitation of indigenous girls — and his use of Native culture to spin a web of power and influence around him.
The actor, known for his role in the 1990 Kevin Costner movie, was taken into police custody Tuesday after SWAT officers raided his North Las Vegas home, where prosecutors claim he lives with his “five wives.”
Authorities allege he is the leader of a cult called “The Circle,” and arrested him after an investigation that began with a tip in October 2022.
Born on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, home to the Sicangu Sioux, Chasing Horse is believed to have started traveling across the US and Canada in the late 1990s, directing traditional Lakota Sun dance ceremonies which involve connecting with the Earth and spirits and pretending to be a powerful medicine man.
Some Native Americans are questioning, however, why it took so long to apprehend someone who appeared to be on numerous radars for at least two decades.
Native American actor Chaske Spencer, who played Sam Uley in the “Twilight Saga” film series, wrote a lengthy Facebook post in 2016 saying he wanted to “expose” Chasing Horse after initially defending him and participating in his Sundance ceremonies. Spencer accused Chasing Horse of “spiritual abuse” and “sex abuse” of female followers.
Spencer also cryptically called out Chasing Horse in a 2016 interview, saying he wanted to “raise awareness of things that are going on in Indian Country that are important to me. Abuse issues especially … right now we are having issues with false medicine being abused there … You can Google a man name Nathan Chasing Horse. And, after you read about him, then you can make up your mind.”
A Native American entrepreneur who is called “Corn Maiden” on TikTok posted a series of videos about Chasing Horse after his arrest.
“When the youngest of his 7 wives escaped him, I emailed and called EVERYONE I thought would automatically want to help,” she wrote.
“Women’s abuse non-profits, domestic violence shelters, professors who specialize in cults, and I couldn’t get a response. It was nuts! Made an anonymous report to the authorities in LV alongside other women who were outraged! … He has taken so many teenage girls away from their families throughout the years that it’s frightening. I am so thankful he finally got caught.”
“Nathan does great ceremony,” wrote an anonymous poster on a thread going back more than a decade that was focused on Chasing Horse and his alleged history of fraud and exploitation. “I was impressed at first. Then I watched as he took my friend’s daughter as one of his wives. He did this in a very bad way. A lot of pain was left behind in her family. From everything I’ve seen, being in the same room with him, he is only concerned with himself and is not ‘there for the people’ as someone who acts as he does should be.”
Elected council leaders on the vast and isolated Fort Peck reservation told The Post this week that they invoked a never-before-used tribal law to officially banish him from their lands.
Terry Rattling Thunder, 66, who’s one of the longest-serving council members on the Fort Peck reservation, said the group heard from elders and others that Chasing Horse, who was not what the Natives call an “enrolled member” of the tribe at Fort Peck, was holding Sundance ceremonies and allowing people from outside to participate.
“He had people coming in from all over but then he wouldn’t let some of our enrolled members participate,” Rattle Thunder told The Post. “He was claiming to be a medicine man but we also heard about the underage girls.”
Roxanne Gourneau, 63, who was an elected council member in 2015, told The Post she heard from Fort Peck band members that Chasing Horse was brandishing weapons during his Sundance ceremony to keep others out — and that she heard complaints about him and underage girls. Such matters were brought up at the Tribal Executive Board’s Education Committee which led to his banishment, according to the Fort Peck Journal.
A few council members voted against banning Chasing Horse from Fort Peck in 2015 but Rattle Thunder claimed it was because Chasing Horse had apparently ingratiated himself with them.
Chasing Horse apparently had little to no contact with his 21-year-old daughter, Quannah Chasing Horse, whose star was rising as he was falling.
Quannah is an up-and-coming model who just signed a big contract with Paul Mitchell Cosmetics. She was on the cover of Allure in October 2022, the same month Las Vegas detectives and other law enforcement finally began investigating her father. Quannah, who was also profiled in Vogue, got her big break in 2020 when she was cast in a Calvin Klein campaign that emphasized the importance of voting. A few months later, she signed with IMG Models.
Quannah, however, was not raised by her biological father and has come out in support of one of his alleged victims, Corena Leone. Leone went public last year on TikTok accusing Chasing Horse of exploiting her. Quannah wrote in the comments section that she was “Sending you all the love, healing, and justice. You deserve so much better.”
“My mom had to raise me and my brothers as a single parent, and my aunties were a big part of my upbringing and I often talk about my mom and the auntie squad and how much they mean to me,” Quannah wrote in an essay for CNN last April. “These strong matriarchs have shown me what true power looks like and how to utilize it in the best way possible.
“My people have always felt invisible and so having this kind of visibility is so meaningful,” she added. “Despite everything that Native communities have endured and lost, we are still here, and we are proud of who we are.”
Quannah’s grandparents, Adeline and Michael Potts, both lifelong Christian missionaries who have served as far afield as Mongolia, said they never had a good feeling about Nathan Chasing Horse when their daughter, Jody Potts, was with him.
“We always felt something wasn’t right with him,” Adeline Potts told The Post from her home in Arizona. “That big movie he made went to his head.”
Potts said her daughter and Quannah’s stepfather raised Quannah and her brother in Alaska, and that Chasing Horse rarely if ever saw them.
“He didn’t raise them, their mother did,” Potts said. “She did a good job.”
Jody Potts is a member of Alaska’s Han Gwich’in Nation and an activist for indigenous rights. She has two other children, and the family appeared on an Alaska-based reality show, “Life Below Zero: First Alaskans,” last year. Potts declined to comment when reached by a Post reporter.
According to South Dakota court records in 2008, Chasing Horse had been accused of being derelict in child support payments by what the court called “numerous women.” Ten were named in the 2008 documents. The same court document stated that Chasing Horse had been convicted in federal court of not paying child support in 2006 but ultimately ponied up.
Nizhoni Widehat, a community organizer with Native Voters Alliance Nevada, was both sad and angry after hearing of Chasing Horse’s arrest, saying that a Native man using Native culture to entrap indigenous women made it all the worse.
“I’ll never do certain dances or know how to wear these things,” Widehat told KNTV. “These things that should be mine are gone, and this guy is using that as a way to keep people. To trap them. To steal them, and his own people even. It’s a heinous crime.”