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NCJ Number: 65670 Find in a Library
Title: POLICE AND PUNISHMENT AMONG NATIVE AMERICANS OF THE PLAINS
Journal: JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:28  Dated:(JULY 1937)  Pages:181-201
Author(s): W C MACLEOD
Corporate Author: Williams and Wilkins Co
United States of America
Date Published: 1937
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Williams and Wilkins Co
Baltimore, MD 21202
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS OF THE INDIAN POLICE WITHIN THE TRIBAL TRADITIONS OF THE PLAINS INDIANS ARE REVIEWED, WITH EMPHASIS ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT PRACTICES.
Abstract: THE INTERNAL POLICE SYSTEMS OF INDIAN TRIBES, SYSTEMS WITH POWERS TO ENFORCE ORDERS AND INFLICT PUNISHMENT FOR DISOBEDIENCE, HAVE BEEN A NEGLECTED ASPECT OF INDIAN STUDIES. HOWEVER, REVIEW OF EARLY LITERATURE MAKES REFERENCE TO POLICE ORGANIZATION AND PRACTICES IN DESCRIPTIONS OF CUSTOMS OF THE OJIBWAY, CREE, OSAGE, PAWNEE, MENOMINEE, OGLALA, BLACKFOOT, AND OTHER TRIBES. TRIBAL VARIATIONS WERE NUMEROUS, BUT, BASICALLY, THE POLICING FUNCTION WAS PERFORMED BY A FRATERNITY OF WARRIORS WITH CEREMONIAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES ASSIGNED BY THE TRIBAL CHIEFS. ASIDE FROM THEIR POLICE DUTY, MEMBERS OF THE POLICE ORGANIZATIONS DID NOT WORK. THEIR VARIED FUNCTIONS INCLUDED POLICING HUNTS AND MARCHES, ENFORCING ATTENDANCE AT RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES, SUPERVISING PUBLIC WORKS, ACTING AS GUARDS AND SENTINELS, PROTECTING PROPERTY, ARBITRATING QUARRELS, AND CURBING PERSONAL VIOLENCE IN ORDER TO PREVENT MURDER. SEVERE FLOGGING AND DESTRUCTION OF THE OFFENDER'S PROPERTY WERE THE USUAL FORMS OF PUNISHMENT METED OUT BY THE POLICE. IF OFFENDERS RESISTED PUNISHMENT, THE POLICE HAD THE RIGHT TO KILL THEM. THE POLICE THEMSELVES WERE NOT ABOVE THE LAW, AND EVEN HIGH CIVIL OFFICIALS WERE SUBJECT TO FLOGGING FOR DERELICTION. MURDER WAS HELD IN GREAT HORROR BY ALL THE TRIBES AND THE ONLY NOTED PUNISHMENT FOR THIS CRIME IS OSTRACISM, WITHOUT DISTINCTION BETWEEN WILLFUL OR ACCIDENTAL KILLING. AN IMPORTANT POLICE FUNCTION WAS INTERVENTION IN VIOLENT PERSONAL CONFLICTS BY USING THE SYMBOLIC POWER OF A SACRED PIPE TO COMPEL PEACE. FAMILY VENDETTA PRACTICES WERE OBSERVED BY SOME TRIBES. THE PARTICULAR DEVELOPMENT OF INDIAN POLICE IN THE PLAINS IS PROBABLY A VARIATION OF SOCIAL PRACTICES AS THEY EXISTED AMONG THE PLAINS PEOPLES WHEN THEY STILL LIVED IN THE MINNESOTA WOODLANDS, PRIOR TO THE 18TH CENTURY MIGRATIONS FACILITATED BY HE HORSE AND UNDERTAKEN IN SEARCH OF BISON. SIMILAR POLICING ARRANGEMENTS ARE KNOWN FOR TRIBES IN THE SOUTHEASTERN WOODLANDS, WHILE PEOPLES ON THE NORTHWESTERN COAST HAD VERY DIFFERENT CLASS SOCIETIES WITHOUT POLICE. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (MRK)
Index Term(s): American Indians; Indian justice; Socioculture; Tribal history; Tribal police
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65670

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