FARGO — Prairie Rose Seminole greeted family and friends at Fargo's Peace Lutheran Church as they arrived for the all-night wake held in honor of her brother, Daniel Seminole.
In brief and hushed conversations, she did her best to address the big question: Did she know what happened to Daniel?
No, she would say, but she held some pieces of the puzzle.
Her brother, 40, was in an accident in Kidder County, N.D., on Dec. 13.
He walked away from that accident and somehow traveled through several other North Dakota counties that night, including McIntosh County, where an incident occurred involving law enforcement.
Seminole said the cause of her brother's death was said to be cardiac arrest, but officials were waiting on the results of toxicology tests before releasing a full report on what happened.
Officially, the McIntosh County Sheriff's Office has said this:
Daniel Seminole was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and was being driven to the Burleigh County Jail by a Wishek police officer when a medical emergency occurred and Seminole became unresponsive.
The Wishek police officer and a McIntosh deputy did CPR and a defibrillator was used before Seminole was taken to a hospital in Wishek and later airlifted to a hospital in Bismarck, where he was ultimately pronounced dead.
The McIntosh Sheriff's Office has said the incident is being investigated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
As she set out food and helped to put together picture boards at her brother's wake on Friday evening, Dec. 21, Prairie Rose Seminole talked a little about the mystery of her brother's death, but she mostly shared memories of her brother and the rocky path of addiction his life followed in the wake of their father's death when Daniel was 10 and she was 8.
It was after their father died, she said, that she and her older siblings, including Daniel, were given names as part of their Native American culture.
She said her brother's ceremonial name was Blind Man, though he later changed it to Lone Man, in native culture the name of the first male human.
Ceremony was an important part of her brother's life, Seminole said, and during times he achieved sobriety it was instrumental in his efforts to remain that way, though setbacks were many.
Her brother's extensive court record, she said, is a chronicle of the times when he lost the struggle against his demons.
Still, she said, chemical dependency did not define who her brother was and she said that before her brother died he had embarked on a project to build a horse farm on family land near White Shield, N.D., in McLean County in northwestern North Dakota.
She said she visited the site after her brother's death and was deeply moved by the beauty of the place.
And it was touching, too, she said, to see the tools and lumber that had been set out by her brother as part of his plan to build a barn for horses he was in the process of purchasing.
"It looked like everything was ready to go," she said.
"It was peaceful, you know? Exactly the opposite of what his life was like here," Seminole said, referring to the Fargo area, where her brother grew up and where many of the negative influences in his life continued to call to him, no matter how hard he tried to break away.
She said in recent years Native American ceremonies helped to mute the siren call of alcohol and drugs for her brother, as did the support he received from other Native Americans who had been incarcerated and who understood the temptations he faced.
Seminole said the pain of losing her brother has been offset, somewhat, by the knowledge that at the end of his life her brother was able to glimpse the good things this world could hold for him.
She said it has also been healing to hear from her brother's friends and co-workers, who told her about sides of her brother family wasn't always privy to.
"People who were close to him knew how giving he was, how thoughtful he was, how funny he was," Seminole said, relating stories like the one from a fellow construction worker, who said that Daniel, out of the blue, bought him a pair of heated gloves as protection against the harsh realities of working outdoors in North Dakota winters.
Seminole then smiled a sad smile as she contemplated the picture of her brother that emerged from the stories told by his friends.
For the moment, they had the power to eclipse the darker chapters of his time on earth.
"It's funny," she said. "He (Daniel) kind of got the last word."