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American Horse


A man who became an image of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests pleaded not guilty Monday to charges stemming from an alleged knife attack last month in Mandan.

Before South Central District Presiding Judge Gail Hagerty, 28-year-old Dale American Horse Jr. entered his not guilty pleas to three counts of reckless endangerment and two counts of aggravated assault, all felonies. Hagerty dropped two felony charges of terrorizing due to lack of probable cause. She also denied a bond reduction.

American Horse is accused of swinging a knife at a man and woman in their bedroom with a 6-year-old girl present. Mandan Police Lt. Pat Haug said the man sustained "significantly deep" cuts along his forearm and over the top of his hand, while the woman sustained cuts to fingers on both hands.

"I think the potential of that child also being accidentally cut or intentionally cut was pretty high," said Haug, who investigated the attack.

Hagerty set American Horse's trial for May 9. He is held at the Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center, pending $7,000 cash bond.

His attorney, Steven Balaban, said the couple he allegedly injured have gone to South Dakota since they were reportedly injured on Jan. 17.

In late August 2016, American Horse came to media attention when he locked himself to a digger at a pipeline work site in southern Morton County. 


Dale American Horse Jr. waits to be freed from a digger he secured himself to in2016 during a protest in Morton County. American Horse, of Rosebud, S.D., was arrested along with seven others at the worksite of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

He was charged with misdemeanors in connection to the matter, which closed with a yearlong deferred imposition by order of Surrogate Judge Thomas Merrick.

If he pays his court fees and completes unsupervised probation with no criminal violations extending to September, the misdemeanors will be taken off his record after review.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter