Remembering Cole Brings Plenty

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By Mia Birkes

Cole Brings Plenty, a 27-year-old Native American actor known for his role in the Yellowstone spinoff series, 1923, was found dead on April 5. The location of his body came just days after Lawrence police issued an affidavit for his arrest, related to an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred the night he disappeared. 

Brings Plenty had been reported missing on March 31st after leaving Lawrence, Kansas, in the early hours of the morning. Just hours prior, Brings Plenty attended a local band’s concert, where his long braids got tangled in a microphone cord. Without his consent, another concertgoer cut his hair to free him.  

For the people of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, of which Brings Plenty was a member, as well as many other Native Americans, hair is considered sacred—it represents strength and a connection to ancestors. Whether this incident was a targeted hate crime or a moment of ill-informed ‘just trying to help,’ it reflects a great deal of trauma experienced by the Indigenous community, often reflected in the MMIP/MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People/Women) movements. 

According to Native News Online, “American Indian and Alaska Native peoples are at a disproportionate risk for violence, murder, and going missing. Jurisdictional gaps and systemic apathy leave many of these cases unsolved.” This specific incident has inspired the hashtag #BraidsForCole, led by Rising Hearts, “an Indigenous led organization elevating Indigenous voices [and] community to foster intersectional growth thru movement [and] advocacy,” as stated on their Instagram page. 

Later into the night of March 30, Lawrence Police responded to a call about a woman screaming for help, and the subsequent investigation alleges that Brings Plenty’s vehicle was seen driving away and was later spotted on traffic cameras leaving the city. This story raises many questions, with several people on social media suggesting that the allegations being used to distract from Brings Plenty’s disappearance and death. Johnson County Sheriff’s Office released a statement following the investigation, stating that no foul play was involved. However, according to MSN, before Brings Plenty’s casket was opened for viewing in his hometown of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, the officiant, Delane Has No Horse, told mourners to refrain from touching the body, as the coroner “had to do ‘a lot of work’ on the body.” 

The death of Brings Plenty has sparked an outpouring of support not only from other members of the Native American community, but also from the people of Kansas. A prayer vigil for Brings Plenty was held in Wichita, KAKE News reported. Maricelle Gallegos, who attended Haskell Indian Nations University with Brings Plenty, organized the vigil to honor him and to raise awareness for the fact that despite the growing number of missing and murdered Indigenous people, police investigations are lackluster and often leave out a suspicious amount of information. 

If you would like to donate to Cole’s legal fund, please follow the QR code. The only websites working directly with the Brings Plenty family are HeSapa Enterprises, based out of South Dakota, and Red Dirt Rags, based out of Oklahoma. Please be mindful when sending along donations or purchasing shirts with Cole’s name and image, as there are many unofficial sites and sellers floating around. Links to these websites, as well as more information about donations, will be included in the digital version of this article at spectator.mcpherson.edu. 

https://reddirtrags.com

https://www.hesapaent.com

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