Northern Cheyenne’s youngest Tribal Councilwoman Silver Little Eagle was brutally attacked and left for dead on May 16 in Billings, according to a GoFundMe started to raise funds for her legal and medical funds.
According to the GoFundMe, Little Eagle was attacked in Billings last week and suffered severe physical injuries as well as having her car and personal belongings stolen. Since the attack, the GoFundMe said she has experienced “further threats of violence, cyberbullying, defamation of character, and harassment by the assailants and people in her own community.”
The case is being handled by the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
If she had not been found by a family member, she may have died, the donation page said. Adding, “We are calling for justice and that the perpetrators are prosecuted for this crime. This incident is another painful reminder that Montana has the highest number of cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the country!”
The GoFundMe was started late Friday night and as of Saturday morning has raised $5,450 of its $8,000 goal. Little Eagle is the 7th generation of Little Wolf and Woodenleg and a descendant of Humpback Woman and Little Eagle, according to a profile of the councilwoman by Western Native Voice. She was part of a historic 2020 Tribal Council election where all five open seats, as well as the Tribal presidency and vice presidency, were filled by women, according to Native Business.
Sen. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula, said he watched Little Eagle’s campaign from afar and was impressed. “I saw a young motivated, sharp woman who wanted to get involved in promoting positive changes in her community and it seemed that she had that perspective of a young leader that’s so important for her community.”
Little Eagle was selected to be a Native American Youth Leadership Alliance fellow in 2018 and that is where she met Amber Morning Star Byars. “She was a really beautiful person and a leader and I admire the work she has done for her community. It’s really heartbreaking to hear something like this,” Byars said Saturday.
Keaton Sunchild, political director at Western Native Voice, called the incident tragic.
“Obviously, this isn’t an isolated incident,” Sunchild said. “It’s happening all over not just on reservations but also in urban areas. If it can happen in Billings, it can truly happen anywhere.” He added, “If the attackers are confident enough to go after an elected official, it shows the power structure that we have created in Montana where Native Americans are looked at less than in society.”
As Silver Eagle recovers from the attack, she is still facing threats, according to the GoFundMe.
“Those who continue to bring slanderous gossip and lies against Councilwoman Little Eagle must realize this violent crime could have happened to your daughter, sister, or granddaughter … The fact remains that this was a brutal unprovoked attack spurred by jealousy and hate,” the post read.
On Twitter people expressed well wishes for Little Eagle. “Councilwoman Little Eagle was nearly killed last week. She is only 23, part of a new generation of Montana leaders, and she is *still* being openly threatened as she recovers. Many of us can only wish we had her courage in leadership and in healing,” former Montana state Rep. Tom Winter Wrote.
My beautiful friend Silver Little Eagle, Northern Cheyenne’s youngest council member, was robbed and beaten within an inch of her life yesterday in Billings, MT. Please share this. Please pray for her. Please help end violence against Native women. #justiceforsilver pic.twitter.com/0AekTG9InA
— Amber Morning Star Byars (@amsbyars) May 21, 2021
Little Eagle’s incident is part of a much bigger problem regarding violence toward indigenous women in the state, Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder said. “There has been an increase on this particular issue and some point in time society needs to accept,” he said. Additionally, he said more needs to be done to combat it. “More resources need to be put into it but the Legislature’s history of helping them isn’t very promising … they have better things to fund I guess.”
As of May 11, there were 57 missing indigenous people in Montana with a large majority of them being women, according to data presented at the most recent Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force meeting.
“We also ask that you continue to advocate for justice so that these violent attackers will be arrested and prosecuted,” the post said.
Keith Schubert is a reporter with the Daily Montanan. He can be reached by email at [email protected], by text or call at 406-475-2954 and on Twitter @keithsch94