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Police brutality protesters gather as Eastern Shoshone elder pleads not guilty in federal assault charge

Ground protesting police brutality after Eastern Shoshone elder arrested and charged with assault of a federal officer. (Spring 2022)
Taylar Dawn Stagner
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Lindberg Shongutsie is an Eastern Shoshone elder who has been charged with allegedly assaulting a federal officer earlier this month.

On March 4th, Austin John-Hill said that he didn’t know that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police were coming to investigate a tip of child endangerment until they were at his house on the Wind River Reservation near Riverton. John-Hill lives with his co-parent, Bobbi Shongutsie and her father Lindberg along with eight kids.

After the household requested a search warrant, John-Hill said that the situation escalated until Lindberg Shongutsie, who was recovering from a knee injury, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a federal officer. He was later moved to a hospital in Casper. According to court documents, Shongutsie has been released from custody.

John-Hill helped organize a protest Thursday afternoon during Shongutsie’s arraignment. Protesters held signs that said “Respect All Elders” and “Hold BIA Accountable” as an Eastern Shoshone drum group played in the background. Many talked of their own personal experience with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police.

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Taylar Stagner
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Drum Group members from left to right. Lehi Aoah, Stacey Nephx, Kino Goggles, Boyd Lopez, Winston Jorgenson.

“Well, the reason why we're kind of here is basically the police brutality that happened to one of our family members, or one of our elders into the community and it happened through the BIA,” John-Hill said.

The protest was held during the arraignment of Lindberg Shongutsie pleaded not guilty during his arraignment and a jury trial has been set for June 6th.

The BIA did not respond in time for publication.

Image from iOS (1).MOV

Dashcam footage provided by Bobbi Shongutsie. Taken on March 4, 2022 when BIA officers arrive on Shongutsie property.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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