UFO Sightings in Indian Country

Ruth Hopkins

Ancient Indigenous Peoples around the globe have reported unidentified lights in the sky, and even contact with star beings, for millennia. Corroborations of these interactions are found in petroglyphs and related through myths and legends preserved by their descendants who live today.

Whether early U.F.O. (Unidentified Flying Object) accounts are accurate is open to speculation. However, no one should make the mistake of assuming that U.F.O. sightings over Indian country ended hundreds of years ago. Natives still witness strange, unidentified flying objects in the sky every year.

These sightings, for a myriad of reasons, go largely unreported. Sightings usually occur in rural areas. Since some reservations where sightings have transpired are patchwork quilts of trust or fee land where jurisdiction may differ from one acre to next, reporting a U.F.O. probably seems like an unnecessary headache. Many Natives would rather not deal with the government or law enforcement to begin with. Not to mention, there’s some folks who simply don’t feel comfortable having it on record that they’ve spotted a U.F.O.

Who’s witnessed unexplained phenomena in the sky over Indian country? Teachers, doctors, lawyers, casino workers, children, elders, tribal cops, and even wicasa wakan (medicine men), among others, fall among the list of Natives who are U.F.O. eyewitnesses. Clearly, I’m not talking about a few intoxicated teenagers with overactive imaginations who have mistaken a falling star or a jet fly overhead as a legitimate U.F.O. sighting.

A few years ago, I attended a memorial service for my husband’s grandfather on The Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Now, Crow Creek has had a stunning amount of U.F.O. sightings over the past decade. Personally, I’m shocked that the sightings there haven’t received more media attention. Still, I’m a skeptic.

We were staying at the Lode Star Casino Hotel, on the second floor. My husband saw it first, at around midnight.

He was staring out the window, when he said, “What is that?”

I went to the window. Off to the south, there was a solid, large, orange, bright light. It was stationary for several minutes. Then the light shot off with amazing speed directly to the east, in a straight line. It stopped abruptly, moving with intelligence. Suddenly, the light broke off into three separate smaller orange lights, equidistant from one another. They streaked across the sky in opposite directions: one traveled east, another one north, and the last one, west. We’d just seen a U.F.O. Then we realized that my husband was standing in front of the picture window with the curtains wide open, in his chonies (underwear). There was a small crowd of older Native ladies in the parking lot taking in the view, laughing, with mouths covered. He’d put on a show of his own while we were awestruck by the U.F.O.

I won’t say it was an alien spacecraft, but I do know that it wasn’t any earthly man-made flying vessel I’d seen before, nor was it a natural phenomenon. As a scientist trained in observation and experimentation, I know this to be true.

On every Native reservation in the United States, you will find stories of unexplained objects in the sky, traveling directionally at high rates of speed. Here are just a few examples:

“My oldest brother saw a U.F.O. after dark. My mom asked him to run out to the car to get her lighter and just a few moments after he left, the power in the house went. I felt a weird surge through my body when it happened. My mom had gone to the breaker when the lights came back on. She met him in the hallway as he came in the back door, and he was white as a ghost. She asked what happened. He told her that something as big as our property and the neighbor's...was hovering right over our place. Both properties were about 1/2 acre total.” —College student, Umatilla Indian Reservation

“Two years ago my husband and I were watching stars. It was 11:55 pm on an August night. An incredibly bright light was moving slowly across the sky at approximately the same elevation as an airplane. I explained it away. Then, it suddenly made a perfect turn at a 90 degree angle and stopped completely for about 3 seconds. Then it reversed course and streaked across the sky.” —Professor, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

“We were all sleeping in the living room. One of us noticed a bright light in the sky, hovering. We asked dad if it was a helicopter. He told us no, it stayed in one place too long. We watched it for 20 minutes. Then it took off, leaving behind a vapor trail. We ran to the back window and saw it hovering over the Tribal college. It had a really bright light around it. It was a triangle-shaped object.” —Former Tribal cop, Lake Traverse Reservation

Current estimates suggest there are as many as 100 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. Is it conceivable that more advanced alien civilizations from other worlds, dimensions, or times have visited our planet? While I doubt they’d travel light years to perform anal probes on rednecks, I think it would be a mistake to discount that possibility. After all, mitakuye oyasin (we are all related), is a universal tenet.

Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton-Wahpeton/Mdewakanton/Hunkpapa) is a writer, speaker, former science professor and tribal attorney. She is a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network and LastRealIndians.com.

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swrussel's picture
For what it's worth, Ruth, I don't think the aliens are picking on us. I think most of Indian country is still rural, which means less light pollution, and most everybody now can tell the differences among regular flying machines. Between ease of seeing and people paying attention, it just looks like they are after us...on the other hand, Indians have vast historical experience with aliens, so maybe they DO want to contact us rather than have NORAD shooting at them!
beaver's picture
And with this column, you have seriously undermined your credibility as a woman of science!
rezican88's picture
To Beaver: Scientists continually undermine their own credibility as scientists, by constantly disregarding the facts of empirical observation that do not fit within their worldview. Scientists rarely follow their pseudo-sacred "scientific method" when it comes to topics such as "ufo's," "bigfoot" and other phenomena that have been observed since prehistoric times. Rather than acknowledge the data, or attempt to gather data of their own to build a foundation upon which to base their dismissals, they all too frequently dismiss such evidence as "superstitious" or "anecdotal." I find these dismissals quite troubling, and extremely antithetical to that which is preached by the most out-spoken of the "rational scientific" community. Ruth Hopkins is one hell of a writer, and there is nothing about her writings that undermines her status as a writer, attorney, Indian, or scientist.
rezican88's picture
Furthermore, the thought of Ruth's husband giving a chonies-exhibition was humorous enough to make me laugh out loud--and warrant a few dirty looks from fellow students in the library from which I am reading this response.
n4tiv3's picture
There are still universes and worlds yet undiscovered that maybe will take forever to investigate. Science is based on and limited to the material plane which does not include the soul, spiritual truths, emotions, imagination, mentality and vibrations etc. With its own limitations it is set up for failure.
Anonymous's picture
I am from the Lower Brule reservation, and I, along with other tribal members have been seeing a lot of "UFO" sightings, my first time really seeing a "UFO" and believing!! I met up with some friends on the Crow Creek reservation, we were sitting in our cars at "the flags" by the river, i couldnt believe my eyes at first, so i asked if they were seeing what i was..and they all saw the same thing, to me it looked like a boomerang shaped object with blue lights all over it, i know there was more than one, i wasnt sure how many there was because they were moving but i couldnt stop looking at them. i couldnt move. i had a cold chill going down my spine. They ended up disappearing, but lately iv been hearing from some other friends of mine that are from the Lower Brule Sioux reservation that they have been seeing weird objects in the sky by Reliance S.D, by the "towers" which isnt far from Lower Brule, also in surrounding areas. I will keep you updated on any other sightings or if i see any. Pilamiya
Lee Lewis's picture
I've had 3 UFO type experiences in my life. I've documented them in the following narrative: MY UFO SIGHTINGS #1 - My first UFO sighting was in about 1965. I am not certain just when it happened, but I know that there were two TV shows playing that night. One was “Mr. Terrific” and the other was “Captain Nice.” I remember this because I enjoyed those programs. We lived in the outskirts of the city of Lancaster, California. My Dad worked as a ranch hand on a Greek Alfalfa Ranch for Augustus Eliopoulos. My sisters and I were playing out in a field. I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time, as best as I can recall. My sister (Darlene) was 3 years younger than I; and out baby sister (Calisa) was 5 years younger than I. As we were playing in the field, I looked up and toward the western sky over the Tehachapi mountains. I saw some kind of contrail going up into the air over the mountains. However, it was following a zig-zag course ... not a straight line. My sisters stopped and stared at this strange scene taking place in the setting sun. (It was late evening). Then, whatever the object was that was rising into the air on this zig-zag course ... suddenly EXPLODED! We were just children, but we knew something important and just happened. I remember that we went running back to the house, Darlene holding on to my pockets, and Calisa holding on behind her. We were all yelling, “EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!” (lol). By the time we got back to the house, the sun had set and there was no sign of the explosion in the sky over the mountains. At least ... not at first. Then we started to see a huge cloud of blue green (gas?) hovering in the sky above us. It seemed to slowly pulse. I remember my Mom & Dad and my grandmother came out to look at it and we were all baffled by whatever it was. I heard later that there was a short article about it in the local paper, but no one knew what it was. At the time, I was not thinking “UFO” or anything like that at all. I was just freaked out about this strange phenomenon which happened over our home.   #2 - My second possible UFO experience was again with my sisters in the late 1960’s. This time we had gone on a hike out into the dessert. We were very late in getting home. In fact, we got severely punished for this. As we were returning home, I happened to look up and realized there were no stars. At first I was bewildered by this. Then I realized there were stars, but most of them above us were not visible. There was something over us, blocking them out. It was dark and signaled my sisters to hide. They ducked under the nearest sage brush bush and I waved to them and point up into the air. I am not sure what they saw, but I saw and HUGE “something” floating overhead. It was slow and made absolutely no sound. After a moment of watching this “blank spot” float across the sky, I realized that it was a huge triangle. I want to say that there may have been small points of light on the points of light on each point of the triangle, but I can’t remember for sure (this was over 40 years ago). However, unlike some of these kind of reports, I can say for sure that there was no light in the center. We tried to tell our parents about this, but they were too angry at us for being out in the desert after dark and did not want to hear our “excuses.”   #3 - My final incident of a possible UFO encounter took place around 1972-73. I lived in Hatton, WA, at the time. This time I was alone. I had walked down to the corral where we kept our pony (“Paint”). I had gone down to the corral to feed her. I was about 13 or 14 years old at the time. As is common for country boys, I needed to relieve myself and had no problem doing so in the relative privacy of the corral. I proceeded to take care of this issue and notice a couple of light flying off in the distance (to the south-west). The lights seemed to be going faster than I would have expected ... then the suddenly split apart. One headed off toward the south, and the other seemed to be headed toward me. I was not really concerned, but suddenly the light that headed toward me, which I thought was miles away, seemed to be directly over me ... totally without sound at all. All of a sudden a light shone down on me and I freaked out. I was still in the processes of relieving myself and ending up peeing all over my leg. I took off running for the house at that point. I don’t know what happened with the “UFO” thing. I was just too freaked out ... and too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened under the circumstances. But ... I will never forget it.
Lee Lewis
jonn's picture
Long ago, I'm guessing when I was somewhere around 10 or 11, my dad (adopted) had taken us down to the Madison river in Montana to fish. We decided to sleep by the river in our old chevy panel wagon. The vehicle was parked facing generally north with the rear door open. I woke up in the early morning when the light was just starting to lighten up the sky. Basically SSE from me a light appeared in the sky. This light was a neon green in color and to me round in shape. I can only go on memory but it seemed to be 10-15 miles away. It started moving towards the east and made a large half circle while climbing. I can distinctly remember a green trail behind it like that of a neon tube that never left. It continued around until it reached its starting point on the other side of the circle. Then it instantly stopped and then a split second later the entire thing vanished. It was like a silent explosion. The whole thing took about 5-10 seconds from beginning to end. I remember just laying there wondering and felt no fear from what had happened. I've told very few people knowing they would just laugh, but I know what I saw.