Body found on Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation

BELCOURT, ND — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that law enforcement discovered a deceased body at the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation on or around May 2. The circumstances of the death are uncertain and details are scarce, but the death is considered suspicious and is being treated as a homicide.

On or about May 2, police recovered a body inside a vehicle from Jarvis Lake on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Authorities secured the scene and contacted the FBI. Brandon Bave Gonzales, 36, of Williston, ND was identified from the location, an FBI spokesperson told Native News Online. He is a non-tribal member. It is not known how long his body has been there.

According to the Williston Police Department, Gonzalez was arrested on Dec. 30, 2019, in Williams County, North Dakota, for possession of paraphernalia related to the drug, heroin, which is a misdemeanor. Gonzalez had an open warrant for “failure to appear” from the Williams County Sheriff’s Department according to the Williston Police Department. According to the police, no missing person report had been filed.

There have been no arrests in connection with the discovery of Gonzalez’s body, according to the Rolette County Sheriff’s Department.

Violent crime rates across Native American reservations are 2.5 times the national average, while some individual reservations reach 20 times the national average for violent crime according to the United States Department of Justice. The FBI is responsible for investigating the most serious crimes in Indian Country, such as murder, sexual and physical abuse of children, violent assaults, drug trafficking, public corruption, financial crimes and Indian gambling violations.

Nationally, the FBI has investigative responsibilities for some 200 federally recognized Indian reservations. Over 100 officers in 19 of the Bureau’s 56 field offices work full-time on Indian affairs. Four field divisions (Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Salt Lake City) account for 75% of all Indian Country cases opened each year.

This is an active investigation.

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About the Author

Author: Darren ThompsonE-mail: This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty and Indigenous issues for the Indigenous Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in the international conversation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and legal studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Nohemi M. Moore