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Chuck Haga, Forum News Service, Published June 17 2013

Authorities mum on death of toddler on reservation

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. – The FBI and federal Bureau of Indian Affairs continue to investigate the death Thursday of a 3-year-old boy on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

Neither the U.S. attorney’s office nor the FBI has released the name of the child, who apparently lived with a relative near St. Michael, but an FBI spokesman said it continues to be investigated as “a mysterious death.”

BIA police at Fort Totten also declined to provide further information, referring inquiries to BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling in Washington, D.C. Darling said she had no additional information, noting that the FBI is the lead agency on the case.

FBI spokesman Kyle Loven in Minneapolis cited the bureau’s policy of not commenting on an ongoing investigation.

The death of another Spirit Lake child has shaken the reservation, which for more than a year has endured a roiling controversy over alleged problems with the tribe’s child protection system.

A KVLY-TV cameraman reportedly was assaulted Thursday while preparing to shoot video near the child’s home, according to a station representative. A complaint was made and the alleged assailant was taken into custody by tribal police but later released, the representative said.

BIA police at Fort Totten would not confirm the complaint, arrest or release, again referring inquiries to Darling, who said she had no information on the matter.