Lakota woman dies in police custody after health complaints ignored


A 24-year-old Lakota woman was found dead in her South Dakota jail cell after repeatedly complaining about excruciating body pain only to have her complaints ignored, according to witnesses in the Brown County prison facility.

According to Indian Country Today, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, 24, of Clairmount, S.D. was arrested for a bond violation and was being held in the facility when she began to experience pain. Witnesses say jail guards told Circle Bear to “knock it off” and “quit faking it.”

The case highlights two aspects of the criminal justice system in relation to Native Americans:

1. Native Americans continue to have negative outcomes when interfacing with law enforcement.

2. Those negative interactions, which often end in fatalities, receive far less media coverage than similar instances with other minority groups.

As the Lakota People’s Law Project asserted in its report “Native Lives Matter” Native Americans are the minority group most likely to be killed by law enforcement.

Native youth represents less than 1 percent of the youth population, but accounts for more than 70 percent of the youth federal prison population.

Nevertheless, Native issues continue to be generally ignored by the larger U.S. population and the media.

The death of Circle Bear is not an isolated incident.

Earlier this month, Paul Castaway,  a Lakota man living in Denver was killed by police after officers allege that he came dangerously close to them wielding a knife. Witnesses dispute the police account.

The American public has grown increasingly aware that police accounts are oftentimes manufactured to protect officers in instances of shootings and cannot be trusted on face value. Castaway’s mother said she has seen the surveillance video and her son did not endanger police.

In January, police shot Lakota man Allen Locke inside his home in Rapid City, S.D. Police allege Locke charged them with a knife. Back in January, Locke’s death sparked a series of protests led by Lakota People’s Law Project Attorney Chase Iron Eyes in downtown Rapid City.

The death toll is mounting and so far not a single official has been held accountable.

How many more have to die before America takes notice?

Please help us continue our efforts to combat institutional racism against the Lakota. You can donate here.

Please sign our petition to Obama. You can do so here.

Also follow our parent organization The Romero Institute on Facebook as they attempt to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery and work toward restoring land to Native tribes, specifically the Black Hills to the Lakota.

7 thoughts on “Lakota woman dies in police custody after health complaints ignored”

  1. What happened to simple compassion for our fellow human beings? I don’t understand why the justice system is so cold hearted. This has to stop. I’ve personally made it my business as an advocate to bring this type of treatment towards Native Americans/American Indians to the public. In doing so, I have seen the racist attitudes, which are far too often overlooked by my race of white Americans. I’m ashamed for them, and it angers me, greatly, that I want ppl to see, hear the harm being done. I’ve witnessed the beauty, in the hearts, and spirits of many tribes towards others, regardless of race, financial status, religious beliefs, every kind of ppl. There r of course different personality types, but there is a shared family among most Indians I’ve had the honor and pleasure to meet. With all my heart, and soul, I will continue to raise awareness in hopes that this beautiful bunch of ppl, is seen, cared abt, as human beings like everyone else.

    1. this is not uncommon. a man I know of was in police custody because he was deemed drunk,when in fact he was have a medical issue. He also died. Much like the government the police represent, Once you have been PICKED as a VICTIM, you have no rights,etc. Not that in truth,YOU ever had. Think about it, those the have written laws including bill of rights and constitution can at will make then useless. As they are also the ones that are to ENFORCE them. Therefore they can select was to enforce . Further is the mistaken belief that they are there to PROTECT YOU. They like the military are the enforcement arm of suppression. THEY CANNOT SERVE 2 MASTERS. They either serve the people OR the forces that control the government. They SERVE the later.

  2. You need to Really INVESTIGATE this death. The United States got in Trouble on the World Stage for using subliminal messaging on prisoners.It’s TORTURE. It causes MANY Health Issues, such as body pains, stomach pain, diarrhea, elevated blood pressure and this doesn’t even include the MENTAL problems. It causes me to go into Atrial Fibrillation and out of Synus Rhythm, I have DOCUMENTED this at Carbondale, IL, Memorial Hospital, us Native Americans are Super Susceptible. They gave prisoners heart attacks with this ‘Quiet Sound’ played in with the music they force fed the prisoners, and drove some to the brink of insanity. I ‘borrowed this from an article >they deserve what they get for not joining ‘civilized’ society <<< ‪#‎Native_Americans_Beware‬ the ‪#‎DEAL_CHANGED‬ now they can ‪#‎KILL_US‬ with ‪#‎White_Sound‬

  3. Has the autopsy come back with a cause of death. The Native Americans must get all of this out through to all Americans so everyone can help. The only help is through numbers of people demanding truth and getting each death, kidnapping, diseases, and all other hardships and tragedies in the news media.

  4. The White Man forgets who taught him how to grow corn and other vegetables and a way to cook it all. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t know anything about how to do certain things ourselves! It’s ashame the Indians are treated like they are!!! It will come back to haunt white men someday!

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