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Native people across Indian Country are uniting in a display of solidarity and remembrance of the Lakota actor Cole Brings Plenty, who went missing a week ago and was found dead last Friday in eastern Kansas.  

On the morning of April 5th, the 27-year old actor in a spin-off of the popular “Yellowstone” series, was found dead in Johnson County, Kan. His body was found near an abandoned vehicle in the woods, prompting an investigation by the Kansas County Sheriff's Office.

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Some accounts indicated that Cole’s braided hair, a sacred symbol in Native American culture, had been forcibly cut off, adding another layer of tragedy to his passing. Amidst the shock and grief of Cole's death, conflicting narratives emerged regarding the events leading to his demise. 

According to a post from Anaya Holder, Cole was attending a concert at the Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas, on the night of his disappearance. Allegedly, his hair became tangled in a microphone cord during the concert, and while someone attempted to help him, another individual abruptly cut his hair with scissors, an act deeply offensive in Native American communities.

The band performing at the concert, Beneather, corroborated this account, acknowledging the incident in a Facebook post. They described Cole as a friend who was enjoying himself until his hair became tangled, leading to the unfortunate and disrespectful act of cutting his hair.

In the aftermath of the concert incident, further speculation arose about Cole's involvement in a domestic dispute after the Lawrence Police issued a statement that it had "submitted an affidavit to the District Attorney for the arrest of Cole after an incident Sunday morning at an apartment in Lawrence." 

In response to these events, the Indigenous-led Rising Hearts organization initiated the "Braids for Cole" movement, urging supporters to wear braids or share images of braided individuals on April 8, 2024, as a symbol of solidarity and respect for Cole's life and heritage.

Braids hold profound cultural significance in Native American traditions, signifying strength, unity, and identity.

As the investigation into Cole Brings Plenty's death continues, it is crucial to approach the situation with sensitivity and respect for all involved parties. While the circumstances surrounding his passing remain unclear, the "Braids for Cole" movement shows the impact of his life and the resilience of Indigenous communities in the face of tragedy. Here are some Facebook posts of support: 

Jaimie Rose Mahto Cikala: Today, my husband helped me braid my hair in honor of my nephew Cole Brings Plenty. We watched him grow up around the boxing ring and Sundance into a beautiful, kind hearted man. He was the epitome of what and who you would want your son, brother, nephew, and relative to be…a Lakota Man. Praying for your journey to the Star Camp to be filled with love and joy when you reunite with loved ones. #braidsforcole

Melisa Cuevas: I briefly told Luna about Cole yesterday and she agreed instantly to wear braids in his honor today. Love her, she has the biggest heart ever. The pic is of us this morning before school.

Ojibwa Indian School: Our beautiful and handsome OIS babies with braids in today. #BraidsforCole

Social Distance Powwow: This guy was in the library for a lot of the search. There wasn't much he could help with to find Cole, but he helped set up food and chairs when needed. And he can go to school with two braids today and tell people about our friend. 

Joseph AmaHura RiverWind: Wearing my hair in braids in memory of Cole Brings Plenty. Wearing red in honor of his sister Kyla Red Bear who was found dead in a field just like Cole, ten months ago. MMIW is the largest, ongoing, epidemic in the United States. Prayers for their families and tribal nation. 

Jessie TakenAlive Rencountre: My baby asked if Cole parted his hair down the middle too. I told her yes. I shared with her what I was taught as a young girl, that the part down our middle represents balance in our life. I’m so proud of her. She’s wearing her braids today in the school where she’s only one of a few Lakota kids at her school. Her bedtime story last night was part of our Lakota creation story of Hanwi and Wi and why they were separated. I talked to her about today’s event of how they will reunite again for a brief amount of time. We ended up getting into talks about our hair again and how the boarding school era had tried to take away these teachings and the hair was cut off innocent children. I could tell she was heartbroken for them. Today, we proudly wear our braids to remember these teachings and honor these children as well as Cole. Today as #Lakota #Dakota we will be recognized on this powerful day of who we are as Indigenous peoples again.

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About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.