Yellow Bird: Gangs in Indian Country
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"No matter how I try to spin the notion that gangs on reservations are nearly harmless, I am wrong. Gang problems are affecting the lives of not only the young people and families in urban Indian communities, but on reservations too.

A recent article, “Gang activity thrives on reservations,” seemed unbelievable to me (Page 1A, Oct. 14). In talking with Native American leaders from several reservations, including Red Lake in Minnesota, here is some of what I learned from people who live and work with the problem.

First of all, most realize it isn't just reservations and Native Americans who are facing the problem of young people gone amuck. In 1999's Minnesota Gang Strike Force investigations, there were 660 arrests and 298 convictions of gang members in Minnesota. Crimes included homicide, drive-by shootings and criminal sexual assaults.

Most gangs, the task force says, are broken down along racial lines. That is a national trend. So there is a tie to reservations, where race is obvious. Ten or 15 years ago, gangs wore colors, used hand signals and reacted strongly to real or perceived displays of disrespect. They were younger and more violent, the task force said. They committed crimes in their own community (usually).

Today gangs sell drugs for a lot of money.

Get the Story:
DORREEN YELLOW BIRD COLUMN: Reservations battle more gang activity (The Grand Forks Herald 11/2)

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