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Man pleads not guilty for death of woman from Standing Rock

Natalie White Lightning. Photo from Dawis-Perry Funeral Services

President Barack Obama hasn't shied from discussing high rates of violence against Native women but his trip to Indian Country tomorrow might be the closest he gets to the ongoing problem.

Obama will travel to Cannon Ball, on the North Dakota portion of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Natalie White Lightning, a 38-year-old woman from the community, was murdered and sexually assaulted on or around March 18, according to a redacted indictment that was filed in federal court.

White Lightning's body was discarded near Fort Yates, also on the North Dakota portion of the reservation. She was found about a month later, on April 22.

Federal authorities have since charged Lance Craig Summers, 29, for the crime. He made his first court appearance today and pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder and a charge of sexual abuse.

Beyond the redacted indictment, few details have been made public about White Lightning's death, indicating that the investigation could be ongoing. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined to comment to the Associated Press when asked about the case today.

White Lightning was laid to rest on April 29. She was employed at the Prairie Knights Casino and Resort, which is owned by the tribe.

"Natalie loved and was loved by everyone," her obituary read. "She would always try to help others, and enjoyed spending time with family and friends."

White Lightning's murder wasn't the only tragedy suffered by her family in the last few months. Her 15-year-old son, Adam White Lightning, died on November 22, 2013, according to his obituary.

Several days later, another teen from Standing Rock died. Tristin J. Wind, 15, was Adam's best friend, according to the obituary.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will hold a roundtable discussion with Native youth as part of their visit tomorrow. The event is closed to the public.

Get the Story:
Man pleads not guilty in federal court to raping, killing woman on Standing Rock reservation (AP 6/12)

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