Stories of the MMIW: Olivia Lone Bear-Murdered
The #nomorestolensisters movement is quite serious when they tell people to say the names of the victims. Say their name is not just a catchy motto or tagline. They want you to literally say these girls' names. Make sure their stories are known and their names are not forgotten. The biggest issue faced by the missing and murder indigenous people of this country is not just the fact that their cases are not investigated as thoroughly. It's also the fact that their cases are not as publicized in the media, either. If we say these girls' names, maybe we can breathe a little life back into their cases and light a fire under agencies to do better by our nation's First People.
Olivia Keri Lone Bear was a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The Mandan, Hidatsa, and the Arikara make up the Three Affiliated Tribes. Olivia was of Hidatsa decent. She was born to parents Iris Sherman-Four Bear and Harley Texx Lone Bear on October 11, 1985. She was born in Stanley, North Dakota, but moved around quite a bit throughout her life. Her Hidatsa name was aptly Cedar Woman. Her love of the outdoors made this quite a fitting name for her. According to her obituary on Langhans Funeral Homes' website, Olivia was "a child of the Ma-xo-xadi (Dripping Dirt) clan."
Her obituary laid out her life beautifully so that we can take a look at the amazing, strong, and resilient woman that she was. She graduated from Four Feathers headstart in 1991, going on to attend elementary and middle school in New Town, North Dakota. She also attended her freshmen year of high school in New Town before moving to Brockton, Montana. Olivia completed her sophomore year at Brockton High School before the family moved again to Wellpinit, Washington. This is where she attended school during her junior year. Quite the active athlete, Olivia was very busy in school with basketball, volleyball, and running cross country.
Her first child, a daughter, was born in 2003. This moved her to finish school through home school/independent study. She earned her high school diploma before welcoming her son in 2005. Olivia suffered a gut wrenching loss when her baby boy passed away at just eight-months-old. Left with a void that could never be filled, Olivia became what her obituary termed a "traveling gypsy." Until 2009, she moved back and forth between Wellpinit and New Town. She finally decided to set down roots in the area that had always been home to her, New Town, North Dakota. She lived with her father, Harley Texx Lone Bear, who she loved and respected more than anyone.
Olivia worked several jobs at the Four Bears Casino and Lodge. She loved working there, particularly as a live games dealer. For a few years, she also worked at the Edgewater golf course and Legion. It was during this time in her life that she was blessed three more times. She gave birth to three more children after moving back home. Her favorite part of life was being a mother. She loved spending time with her kids, golfing, playing poker, and going to concerts. The young mother held a special bond with each one of her children, never leaving one to feel left out.
As the dedicated mother and daughter took care of her father, one of her children would also pitch in to help. She was clearly passing her loving, caring nature down to her next generation. It would be her father that would raise the alarm bells when Olivia went missing. It was not like her to take off and not call or answer her phone.
Olivia is remembered by those that loved her most as an outgoing, intelligent, and loving woman with a crazy streak that made her the life of the party. She was genuinely loved by all that she met. We all know those people that try to speak up after someone has passed away, trying to make it out that they were the best of friends. Olivia actually had many people in her life that considered her to be their best friend, though. This just goes to show how many lives she touched throughout her own. She had a smile and a personality that drew people to her and that will be remembered for many lifetimes. Even after the soul crushing grief of losing her second born child, she still carried on for her other children and the rest of her family.
According to Dateline, Olivia was last seen leaving Sportman's Bar on October 24, 2017. She was driving a pickup truck that she had borrowed from a friend. After two days of not hearing from his daughter, Harley reported her missing to the Three Affiliated Tribes Police. Uncovered.com stated on their coverage of this case that while the investigation was beginning, Olivia's brother, Matthew, had taken to social media. On October 26, he lamented on Facebook that they had been unable to locate his sister and she had not checked in. When the grieving brother that still fights for justice spoke with Dateline, he told them that he believes Olivia returned home before she disappeared. Her cell phone, wallet, and money were all found to be present inside her home. The clothes she was wearing when she was last seen were found to be at the home as well.
For nine agonizing months, the nearly one million acres of the Fort Berthold Reservation she lived on and disappeared from was searched. Kxnet.com states that most of the ground searches were held by Olivia's family. They did all they could to find her and their efforts finally paid off nearly a year later, but it was not the discovery they had hoped for. Considering Olivia's responsible, dependable nature, it was likely the outcome they had prepared themselves for. A dedicated mother, hard working employee, and doting daughter does not just take off without a word.
A group of volunteers took to Lake Sakakawae with sonar equipment on July 27, 2018. It was at that point that the body of Olivia Lone Bear was finally recovered. She was found strapped into the passenger's seat of the pickup truck she'd last been seen driving. The truck was submerged in 20 feet of water, nearly 400 feet from the shore. She was only a mile and a half away from her home. There were no obvious injuries found on her body upon inspection. An autopsy failed to determine the cause of her death. According to uncovered.com, medical personnel stated that they could not determine a definitive traumatic, natural, or toxicological cause of death in her case.
Once she was found, the FBI stepped in and took the lead on the case of her disappearance and death. In a media advisory released by the Department of Justice on November 20, 2019, it was stated that the FBI, as well as the United States Attorney's Office, are both working diligently to solve this case. The release also states that Olivia's family was briefed on the state of her case by US Attorney, Drew Wrigley and the FBI's Special Agent in Charge, Robert Perry shortly before the release was made public. They go on to assure the public that multiple subpoenas and search warrants had been issued while dozens of interviews were conducted. They also conducted multiple forensic examinations and called in several specialized law enforcement teams for their expertise.
On April 1, 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland revealed a plan to form a new unit dedicated to aiding local and tribal law enforcement in the cases of missing and murdered indigenous people. Valley News Live ran the story, stating that this new unit will also help the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in solving cases. They will not only come in on new, active cases, but they will also be working cold ones as well. State official, Scott Davis told Valley News Live that there are more than 30 unsolved cases involving missing and murdered indigenous people. Some of these date all the way back to the 70s. It's his hope that this new unit will be able to form a constructive partnership with the agencies they're helping. Olivia's brother, Matthew, thinks that it's a step in the right direction of progress.
Though her case is still open and apparently active, there has been no movement in more than three years. Her family remains hopeful that her killer will some day be brought to justice. Hope, much like time, can dwindle for some. But the loving, devoted family of a victim, missing or murdered, doesn't know how to lose hope. So they just keep hanging on. According to kxnet.com, the FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conclusion of this case. The FBI urges anyone with any information, no matter how small, to call 1-800-CALLFBI, or submit your tips at online at https://tips.fbi.gov.
A loving mother, daughter, sister, and friend was taken from those that loved her most far too soon. Now, her family and friends are left to not only grieve, but wonder. What happened to Olivia Lone Bear that fateful night on October 24, 2017? Why hasn't somebody been charged in more than three years after her death? What is it going to take for authorities to start taking these cases more seriously?