Student mourns death of Cole Brings Plenty

By Tristan Xóotsk’i Tláa Leach

As a society, we often hear talk about a lack of representation in the media, there aren’t enough minorities in television, books, movies and other forms of media and entertainment that we all love. When we see someone who looks like us or someone we love, we celebrate the little victory of that person making it. This was the case of actor Cole Brings Plenty. 

Brings Plenty was a 27-year-old of Mnicoujou Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux descent. His tribal descents come from what is now South Dakota. Brings Plenty was proud of his heritage, playing several characters in mainstream television shows including “1923,” a spin off of the popular “Yellowstone.” His representation of Indigenous persons and specifically Lakota and Sioux peoples has become a beacon of light for Indigenous people in the United States. Brings Plenty was helping to create a place at the table for Indigenous peoples, until it all came to a sudden halt. 

On April 5, the news broke that Brings Plenty had been found dead in a wooded area of Johnson County, Kansas. According to an article written by CBS News, Brings Plenty had a warrant issued for his arrest on charges of aggravated burglary, domestic battery and criminal restraint. The warrant was issued after a woman was heard screaming for help in a Lawrence, Kansas, apartment building. Brings Plenty was named a suspect after a traffic camera caught his car leaving the city after the incident occured.

 His family and friends have urged the public to stop speculating that Brings Plenty was “on the run.” His uncle, Mo Brings Plenty, wrote in an Instagram post, “It is important for everyone to refrain from making assumptions or speculating in any situation. Jumping to conclusions without verified information can not only harm individuals’ reputations, but also compromise the integrity of our ongoing investigations.”

By Rashe Mishra

The accusations brought against Brings Plenty are not unique. In July 2023, a report released by the Congressional Research Service stated that 82% of American Indian/Alaska Native men reported experiencing violent victimization in their lives. On top of this, 3.5% of missing persons in the U.S. are American Indian/Alaska Native despite the American Indian/Alaska Native population only making up 1.1% of the entire U.S. population.

Mo Brings Plenty knew what many of us refuse to acknowledge: that if a murdered person is a member of a minority and has even a smudge on their character, they are written off as deserving of what happened to them. Cole Brings Plenty has no priors and has, up until now, not made the news for anything besides his acting and activism. 

Cole Brings Plenty went to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. with Mo Brings Plenty and other activists to educate lawmakers on the importance of passing a bill that would help investigate Indian boarding schools and their policies. Cole Brings Plenty took great pride in his heritage and his people, making components of his death all the more painful. 

When he was found, Cole Brings Plenty’s long, black braided hair had been cut. For many Indigenous people, long hair is a symbol of culture, heritage and spirituality. The cutting of his hair is a great insult and further removes him from the person he was before his death. 

On April 8, a nationwide movement labeled “Braids for Cole” took place. Across the U.S., people, no matter their culture, heritage, race or gender, braided their hair for the actor. A symbol of mourning and acknowledgement. 

I do mourn Cole Brings Plenty and any other missing Indigenous person who will never come home. Growing up mixed and in a family that not only acknowledged, but celebrated my Tlingit heritage was formative to who I am today and to the activism and writing I do everyday.

Related Articles

Back to top button