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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77968 Find in a Library
Title: Behind Prison Walls, Indians Reclaim Their Heritage - A New Political and Cultural Awareness Combats the Cycle of Despair
Journal: Corrections Magazine  Volume:7  Issue:3  Dated:(June 1981)  Pages:6-15,18
Author(s): P B Taft
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Social and economic problems which may contribute to American Indian criminality are discussed, and the growth of Indian political and cultural awareness in correctional facilities is described.
Abstract: In South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and other States, Indians are incarcerated in numbers that greatly exceed their percentage of the population. Because many Indians live at the bottom of the economic ladder, in the midst of a dominant culture that exalts material success, old Indian traditions of respect for life and living have lost their meaning among Indian youth. Where traditions once formed the basis for a rich community life, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and prison have taken their place. However, many young Indian inmates are rediscovering, or discovering for the first time, their Indian roots through traditional activities offered in prisons. This resurgence of traditions behind bars began in the early 1970's when the American Indian Movement (AIM) was born, drawing national attention to the sufferings of Indian people. Throughout the 1970's, prisons were the focus of hundreds of protests from Indian organizations demanding everything from traditional sweat lodges (used in Sioux purification rites) to the freeing of all Indian inmates. Now, either voluntarily or because of court orders won by Indian activist groups, prisons in at least 10 States provide some sort of religious, educational, social, or rehabilitative programs designed for Indians. Sweat lodges, sacred pipe ceremonies, visits by medicine men, and pow wows are permitted in some prisons. In some areas, Indian-operated organizations are relied upon to provide rehabilitative and educational services. Although the rehabilitative effects of these programs are uncertain, they usually run smoothly and are accepted by most prison staff. Indian inmates' views are presented, and photographs are included. A reference list is not provided.
Index Term(s): American Indians; Correctional reform; Crime Causes; Cultural influences; Discrimination; Drug abuse; Economic influences; Indian justice; Inmate organizations; Inmate Programs; Inmate religious affiliation; Reservation law enforcement
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