Mary Pember: Indian Country's gang problem

"I recall my surprise at hearing hard-core rap music blaring from a reservation radio station as I drove through the rolling hills of the Dakotas several years ago. It seemed so incongruous to hear the music’s references to urban violence, drug use and gangs in a place so seemingly removed from that world.

On today’s reservations, however, gang culture (including dress, music and behavior) is growing in popularity with young people. Seeing a group of Indian kids dressed in baggy pants and “do-rags” (handkerchief head covering) lounging around the prairie seems almost laughable until I hear the stories of senseless violence committed by these kids. Like so many other disenfranchised youth in America, reservation kids are also drawn to the provocative gang culture and its associated violence.

Lately, violence in Indian Country has drawn the attention of lawmakers. As part of the Obama administration's efforts to address crime on reservations, officials from the Justice Department have spent the past two months touring Indian communities and reservations meeting with tribal leadership and law enforcement officials to coordinate action on crime in Indian Country. The Justice Department reports that violent crime on reservations is two to three times the national average. Much of this crime is related to gang activity."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Gangs in Indian Country (The Daily Yonder 9/17)

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