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NCJ Number: 199860 Find in a Library
Title: Native American Youths and Gangs
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:10  Issue:2  Dated:Winter 2003  Pages:45-54
Author(s): Janice Joseph; Dorothy Taylor
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 10
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper examines the involvement of Native American youths in gang activities and discusses responses to and the prevention of these gang activities.
Abstract: A survey of nearly 14,000 American-Indian/Alaska Native adolescents living in rural areas and on reservations found that between 1988 and 1990, just over 15 percent of Native American youth reported some level of personal affiliation with a gang. Almost 5 percent of all students reported that they spent a lot of time in gangs. A later study indicated that 5 percent of males, but less than 1 percent of females reported actual gang membership. Ten percent of male and female respondents reported hanging around with gangs. According to the Native Communications Office (2001), more than 180 gangs have been identified in Indian Country within the last few years. Generally, these gangs have few ties to traditional Native American culture, but rather are affiliated with Black and Hispanic gangs and have some affiliation with gangs in California, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Chicago. Native American youth join gangs for the same reasons as other youth. They experience many of the same problems as juveniles in the inner cities, such as poverty and unemployment. The majority of Native American gang members come from dysfunctional families with emotional as well as economic needs. These conditions often foster delinquency and gang violence. The presence of gangs in and around reservations correlates with a sharp increase in violence. Most violent crimes on reservations apparently are perpetrated by individual gang members or small groups from a particular gang. These gangs are also involved in drug trafficking. Law enforcement officers have not been effective in controlling the youth gangs among Native Americans, largely because of the complexity of law enforcement on reservations, which are policed by tribal, State, and Federal law enforcement officers. The enforcement of the law in Indian country is also complicated by geography; a six-officer police department may be responsible for patrolling a reservation that is the size of Connecticut. The Navajo National Judicial Branch in Window Rock, AZ, is conducting the first comprehensive assessment of gang activity by a tribal government. Researchers hope to identify approaches for countering gangs that can be adapted by other tribes. It is imperative that tribal, State, and Federal governments develop a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to the gang problem. Such an approach should focus on family, peers, ceremony and rituals, spirituality, community, law enforcement, and education. 18 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Index Term(s): American Indians; Gang Prevention; Indian affairs; Indian justice; Juvenile gang behavior patterns
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