Youth Gangs in Indian Country by maw19089

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									U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

     J. Robert Flores, Administrator                                                                                            March 2004

Youth Gangs in
Indian Country                                                                                          A Message From OJJDP
                                                                                                        Since 1995, the National Youth Gang
                                                                                                        Center (NYGC) has surveyed law
                                                                                                        enforcement agencies across the
Aline K. Major, Arlen Egley, Jr., James C. Howell,                                                      nation about youth gang activity.
Barbara Mendenhall, and Troy Armstrong                                                                  Because tribal police departments
                                                                                                        were not included in earlier surveys,
Recent studies have reported alarming                      about youth gang activity in Indian coun-    however, youth gang activities in Indi-
levels of violence in Indian country.1                     try have been largely absent.                an country have been largely absent
Researchers have found that American                                                                    from survey findings.
                                                           In 2001, NYGC developed and implement-
Indians and Alaska Natives experience a                                                                 This Bulletin describes the nature
                                                           ed the 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in
crime rate of 656 incidents per 100,000                                                                 and makeup of youth gangs in Indian
                                                           Indian Country (see “Survey Design and
residents, compared with a crime rate of                                                                country. The findings presented are
                                                           Method” for a detailed discussion of the
506 incidents per 100,000 residents in the                                                              the result of a 2001 NYGC survey—
                                                           survey). All federally recognized Indian
general U.S. population (Hickman, 2003).                                                                tailored specifically for Indian commu-
                                                           communities were surveyed to measure
In addition, Indian country communities                                                                 nities—that asked federally recog-
                                                           the presence, size, and criminal behavior
suffer from a violent crime rate that is two                                                            nized Indian communities to describe
                                                           of youth gangs in Indian country. This
to three times greater than the national                                                                their experiences with youth gang
                                                           Bulletin presents data regarding the pres-
average (Wakeling et al., 2001). The esca-                                                              activity. Researchers found that youth
                                                           ence and effect of youth gang activity in    gangs in Indian country did not differ
lation of violence among youth in these
                                                           Indian country and provides an overview      greatly from youth gangs in compara-
areas is of particular concern to juvenile
                                                           of programmatic responses to the prob-       bly sized communities. Indian country
justice officials and community members
                                                           lem. When appropriate, the Bulletin com-     youth gangs, however, were notice-
(Greenfeld and Smith, 1999; Wakeling et
                                                           pares findings from this survey to those     ably different from youth gangs as
al., 2001). Anecdotal reports and official
                                                           from a national sample and a subset of       depicted through national statistics.
records from juvenile justice officials (i.e.,
                                                           jurisdictions that closely resemble Indian   The study also included comparisons
tribal courts and probation and law en-
                                                           country communities in size and geo-         with findings from a previous study of
forcement officers) in a number of Indian
                                                           graphic location. The survey findings are    youth gang activity in the Navajo
country communities indicate increased
                                                           also compared to relevant contextual data    Nation.
levels of crime associated with youth
                                                           from a field study of gangs in the Navajo
gangs. Each year since 1995, the National                                                               Drawing on these research findings,
                                                           Nation (Armstrong et al., 2002).
Youth Gang Center (NYGC) has surveyed                                                                   the Bulletin proposes prevention,
law enforcement agencies throughout the                                                                 intervention, and suppression strate-
country about gang activity. However,                                                                   gies. These proposals are derived
                                                           Survey Sample and                            from effective programs in non-Indian
tribal police departments are not included
in the survey sample, and detailed data                    Response                                     country settings. Although such pro-
                                                           At the time the survey was developed,        grams may require modification to
                                                           there were 577 Indian communities in the     better serve tribal communities, they
1 “Indian country” is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1151 as in-   United States, comprising 561 federally      provide Indian country leaders with
cluding (1) land within Indian reservations, (2) depend-   recognized tribes (figure 1, page 3). NYGC   proven methods to address emerging
ent Indian communities, and (3) Indian allotments.         and the advisory group chose to survey       youth gang issues.

   Access OJJDP publications online at
Survey Design and Method
Before designing the 2000 Survey of        and data collection effort were sensitive                reside within the limits of Indian
Youth Gangs in Indian Country, the         to cultural differences. NYGC consulted                  reservations, pueblos, rancherias,
National Youth Gang Center (NYGC)          with advisors from federal agencies                      villages, dependent Indian commu-
consulted earlier research on gang         and tribal organizations as it developed                 nities, or Indian allotments, and
activity in Indian country communi-        the study methodology and survey in-                     who together comprise a federally
ties. This research was extremely lim-     strument. Advisory group participants                    recognized tribe or community.
ited and consisted mainly of a small       included NYGC research staff, re-                        Communities also include people
number of descriptive reports that         searchers from the Center for Delin-                     who have been recognized by the
reference gangs (Nielson, Zion, and        quency and Crime Policy Studies, repre-                  United States government as a
Hailer, 1998; Coalition for Juvenile       sentatives from BIA and the Department                   tribe or tribal community, but who
Justice, 2000) and regional and            of Justice, and staff from the Depart-                   do not occupy tribal trust, tribally
national surveys (Hailer, 1998;            ment of Housing and Urban Develop-                       owned, or Indian allotment lands.
Juneau, 1997, 1998).                       ment, the Department of Health and                       Communities are the people and
                                           Human Service’s Indian Health Ser-                       land together or tribal community
Findings from two surveys conducted        vices, the National American Indian                      viewed as a group. Land without
by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)      Court Judges Association, and the                        the people is not considered a
in 1997 and 1998 included law en-          National Congress of American Indi-                      community for the purpose of this
forcement contacts, a brief descrip-       ans. The advisory group recommended                      survey.
tion of the local gang situation, and      the most appropriate methods for col-
the types of criminal activity associat-   lecting data, the unit of measurement,                 As used in this Bulletin, the concept of
ed with gang members (Juneau,              how to construct questions to ensure                   community in Indian country applies to
1997, 1998). The later survey, which       cultural sensitivity, and whom to target               a broad spectrum of land and people.
focused on Indian country communi-         for communitywide information.                         Tribes and reservations vary greatly by
ties in the West, Northwest, and                                                                  size, configuration, and the settlement
Dakotas, covered basic definitions,        Data regarding gang activity are fre-                  pattern that defines living arrange-
names and locations of specific            quently collected from law enforcement                 ments. Indian communities located on
gangs, gang-related crime, and law         officials. In this case, because NYGC                  a contiguous single piece of land con-
enforcement responses to gang activ-       wanted to ensure that respondents rep-                 taining just one occupied area or only
ity (Juneau, 1998).                        resented the communities surveyed, it                  a few occupied areas are similar to
                                           decided a tribal leader would be the ini-              neighborhoods or small towns where
One of the more comprehensive              tial contact. To increase response rates,              the inhabitants and the area of land
studies included findings from data        NYGC later solicited responses from                    they occupy make up the community.
gathered via a survey of tribal and        law enforcement agencies serving                       This is the most common setting for
BIA law enforcement agencies serv-         those communities that had not                         Indian communities; however, different
ing Indian country communities (Hail-      responded to the initial inquiry.                      community configurations are located
er, 1998). This study provided a base-                                                            throughout Indian country.
line assessment of the extent of gang
presence, gang characteristics, and        Survey Definitions                                     Large reservations or more populous
law enforcement responses to gangs         To ensure that the survey measured                     tribes located on either a contiguous
in Indian country communities. Addi-       what it was designed to measure,                       single piece of land or noncontiguous
tionally, a field study of youth gangs     NYGC asked the advisory group to                       pieces of land may include towns of
in the Navajo Nation provided data         define critical concepts in the survey.                various sizes and areas of more dis-
from interviews with gang members          This Bulletin refers to each respondent                persed population. Outside of Indian
and agency stakeholders, results of        tribe, reservation, and Alaska Native                  country, these towns and rural areas
community focus group meetings, an         village as a “community,” which                        might be considered separate commu-
examination of relationships and influ-    includes a wide range of settings—                     nities. However, because of the resi-
ences from outside the reservation,        pueblos, rancherias, villages, towns,                  dents’ tribal connection, they are all
and an explanation of the relationship     and rural settlements.1 Specifically, the              considered members of one community
between cluster housing and gang           survey defines an Indian “community”                   in this Bulletin. A tribal community
formation (Armstrong et al., 2002).        as:                                                    (people and land) also may be located
                                                                                                  in the midst of an urban setting. Some
Although previous research helped             Persons of American Indian, Alas-                   reservation trust lands2 are occupied
shape the survey approach, NYGC               ka Native, or Aleut heritage who                    by more than one tribe. These may
determined that further consultation
with other knowledgeable sources
                                           1 In 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs provided       2 Reservation trust lands refer to areas that have
was necessary before the survey’s
                                           NYGC with a list of communities then recognized by     been set aside and recognized by the federal gov-
actual development and implementa-
                                           the agency. This list represented the 561 recognized   ernment as being held in trust for a particular
tion. NYGC decided to draw on the
                                           tribes in the form of 577 communities for which        federally recognized tribe. A variety of federal
knowledge of experts in the field to       information pertaining to tribal enrollment was        treaties, regulations, and acts over the years have
ensure that related social issues were     individually maintained. NYGC surveyed these           established these trust areas and have established
covered and that the survey language       communities.                                           laws governing sovereign Indian nations.

   have joint or confederated tribal           9). As in NYGS, respondents were                             2000 Survey of Youth
   administrative operations, whereas          asked to exclude motorcycle gangs,                           Gangs in Indian Country
   others maintain separate administra-        hate or ideology groups, prison gangs,
                                                                                                            The final survey instrument was
   tions for the different tribes living on    or other exclusively adult gangs, which
                                                                                                            developed using earlier research and
   the same reservation.                       are beyond the scope of this survey.
                                                                                                            input from advisory group meetings.
   Despite commonly identified features                                                                     The 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in
   of a youth gang, codified definitions       United States Census Data                                    Indian Country included questions
   vary (Curry and Decker, 2003; Sper-         NYGC obtained 2000 population figures                        about the presence or absence of
   gel and Bobrowski, 1990). Using an          for Indian country communities from                          gangs and demographic data regard-
   approach similar to the National Youth      the United States Census Bureau.3                            ing gang members and their involve-
   Gang Survey (NYGS), this survey             Population data used for this study                          ment in criminal activity. General
   defines a “youth gang” as “a group of       included only persons who resided                            questions about the community,
   youths or young adults in your commu-       within the boundaries of a federally                         pressing social problems, and law
   nity that you or other responsible tribal   recognized Indian community. For com-                        enforcement services were also
   members or service providers are will-      munities in which this figure could not                      included.
   ing to identify or classify as a ‘gang.’”   be accurately discerned, population fig-
                                                                                                            After the survey was finalized, but
   Therefore, this survey measures youth       ures were not used. Eighty-four percent
                                                                                                            before its dissemination, a letter was
   gang activity as an identified problem      (n=483) of the total 577 communities
                                                                                                            sent to several associations and
   among interested community agents.          were matched to the population data.
                                                                                                            organizations soliciting support for the
   To better understand how respon-
                                                                                                            survey. A letter was also mailed to all
   dents defined youth gangs, a series
                                               3 The data sets used were the Census 2000 Redistrict-        tribal leaders explaining the purpose
   of survey questions asked respon-
                                               ing Data Summary File for All American Indian Areas          of the survey and requesting a con-
   dents about the characteristics that        and Alaska Native Areas and the Census 2000 Summa-           tact to whom it could be sent. These
   guide communities in identifying youth      ry File 1 for American Indian and Alaska Native              initial efforts were beneficial to the
   gangs (results are discussed on page        Areas.                                                       survey process and helped establish
                                                                                                            awareness of survey objectives.

the entire Indian country population to
provide a broad assessment.                        Figure 1: Number of Federally Recognized Indian Communities in the
NYGC initially mailed the survey to tribal                   United States, 2000, by State
leaders and requested that they complete
the survey or forward it to the tribal rep-
resentative most capable of completing it.
Contacting tribal authorities in some of                      28                                                                              5
the communities was a difficult task for a                                    7                5           12                                     1
number of reasons. Infrequent or sporadic                   9                                                                             7
mail delivery made reaching potential                                 5                       8                     11                                1
respondents in isolated locations difficult.                                      2                                          12
In some areas, tribal authorities were                105                                         4             1                                 2
away from the community or otherwise                            24
                                                                          4           2
unavailable because the survey was mailed                                                          4            1
during the height of the community’s work-                                                                                            1
ing season. In these cases, subordinates                                                              37
were often reluctant to speak on behalf of                              20         22                                             1
the community. These difficulties adverse-                                                                               1   1
ly affected the number of communities                                                                               4
that responded to the survey and resulted                                                          3
in a reduced number of responses. NYGC                          225                                                                   2
staff made followup phone calls to tribal
leaders and appropriate law enforcement
officers in communities that had not
Overall, 52 percent (n=300) of the commu-          Source: Tribal enrollment list from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, submitted to NYGC in 2001.
nities responded to the survey. In general,
communities that responded to the sur-
vey represented more populated areas,
thus providing data for more of the total

Indian country population than suggested      “other” services such as city/county law                    NYGC obtained population data for 83 per-
by the 52-percent response rate. It should    enforcement, state police, and the Fed-                     cent (n=57) of the communities reporting
be noted that survey findings in this Bul-    eral Bureau of Investigation (32 percent);                  gang activity. Although only 23 percent of
letin are based on completed surveys          Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforce-                 responding Indian country communities
only and cannot necessarily be general-       ment services (26 percent); and contract-                   reported active gangs, the residents locat-
ized to represent Indian communities on       ed law enforcement (9 percent).                             ed in these communities accounted for
a national scale. However, this study pro-                                                                more than 60 percent of the total respond-
                                              Law enforcement services in Indian coun-
vides the most inclusive picture to date                                                                  ing population. The average population of
                                              try have been characterized in previous
of gangs in Indian country.                                                                               communities reporting gang activity was
                                              research as having limited resources and
                                                                                                          slightly more than 4,500, compared with
To provide a context for understanding        other problems: for example, officer-to-
                                                                                                          a population of slightly fewer than 400
gangs in Indian country, two additional       resident ratios that often do not exceed
                                                                                                          among communities reporting no active
samples are discussed throughout this         2 officers per 1,000 residents; complicat-
                                                                                                          gangs. This suggests that larger Indian
Bulletin. First, NYGC’s annual national       ed jurisdictional policing authority that
                                                                                                          country communities are more likely to
survey of law enforcement agencies            depends on the crime committed, the of-
                                                                                                          experience gang activity than smaller
measures the gang problem throughout          fender, the victim, and the location; and
the United States. This national sample       increasing crime rates without an equiva-
provides a means for comparing gang           lent increase in law enforcement person-                    By contrast, law enforcement agencies re-
activity in Indian country and gang activi-   nel (Wakeling et al., 2001; Hickman, 2003).                 sponding to the 2000 NYGC national sur-
ty in the remainder of the nation. Second,    Given these difficulties, many depart-                      vey noted a considerably greater degree
to draw a more reasonable comparison          ments find combating the social problems                    of youth gang activity, with 40 percent
between the national sample and the           associated with violence and victimization                  (n=975) of respondents indicating active
Indian country sample, NYGC selected a        (including youth gang activity) in these                    youth gangs (Egley and Arjunan, 2002).
subsample of national respondents that        areas to be an arduous task.                                Of the national survey respondents that
shares a number of characteristics with                                                                   were similar in size to the Indian country
                                              Of special concern is the lack of sufficient
Indian country communities. Thus, the                                                                     respondents (i.e., the comparison sam-
                                              crime data for these communities, which
Bulletin includes the following samples:                                                                  ple), 20 percent (n=85) reported youth
                                              often prevents them from addressing
                                                                                                          gang activity in their jurisdiction.5 Figure 2
◆ Indian country sample: The 577 Indian       crime problems effectively. Currently,                      compares gang activity across the three
  communities comprising 561 federally        the Tribal Justice Statistics Assistance                    samples.
  recognized tribes.                          Center, operated by the Justice Research
                                              and Statistics Association and funded by
◆ National sample: More than 3,000 law        the Bureau of Justice Statistics, provides                  Gangs and Gang Members
  enforcement agencies consisting of          training and technical assistance for                       Figures 3 and 4 (pages 5 and 6) show
  police departments serving cities with      Indian country communities that wish                        the number of gangs and gang members,
  populations of 25,000 or more, sub-         to collect and use statistics more produc-                  respectively, in Indian country communi-
  urban county police and sheriff’s de-       tively (Hickman, 2003). However, policing                   ties. The estimated number of youth
  partments, randomly selected police         in Indian country remains an area that                      gangs per community ranged from 1 to 40,
  departments serving cities with popu-       requires attention. A collaborative effort                  with the majority of respondents (59 per-
  lations between 2,500 and 24,999, and       among tribal communities, researchers,                      cent of gang problem areas) identifying 1
  randomly selected rural county police       and policymakers is needed to alleviate                     to 5 gangs. The estimated number of gang
  and sheriff’s departments.                  the problems faced by tribal communities                    members per community ranged from 4 to
◆ Comparison sample: A subsample of           and to provide effective policing in Indian                 750, with 32 percent of respondents stat-
  national respondents in nonmetropoli-       country (Wakeling et al., 2001).                            ing there were 25 or fewer gang members
  tan areas with populations of less than                                                                 in their community.
  25,000.                                     Youth Gang Activity                                         To illustrate gang activity among Indian
                                              Twenty-three percent (n=69) of Indian                       communities of different sizes, the follow-
Findings                                      country respondents3 reported having                        ing analyses compared communities with
                                              active youth gangs in their communities                     a population of 2,000 or more (referred to
Law Enforcement Services                      during 2000. Seventy percent responded                      as “larger communities”) and communities
                                              that there was no gang activity in their                    with a population of fewer than 2,000
Law enforcement arrangements in Indian        communities, and 7 percent could not                        (“smaller communities”).6 Seventeen per-
country vary from community to commu-         make a determination.4                                      cent of the smaller communities respond-
nity (Wakeling et al., 2001). To measure                                                                  ing to the survey reported experiencing a
this variation, the survey asked respon-                                                                  gang problem, compared with 69 percent
dents (n=300) about the types of law          2 Public Law 280 is a federal statute that grants a state   of larger communities. Figures 5 and 6
enforcement services available in their       in which an Indian community is located authority           (pages 6 and 7) show the reported
community. Respondents could indicate         over criminal and civil matters on that land.
the presence of more than one service.        3 For the remainder of this Bulletin, “respondents”
Survey responses revealed that tribal law     refers only to those communities reporting youth gang       5 “Jurisdiction” is defined as the service area of the
enforcement services were the most com-       activity in 2000.                                           responding law enforcement agency.
mon (43 percent of surveyed communities       4 Communities reporting “do not know” are presented         6 The mean population of Indian communities for
reported having this service), followed       here because of their appreciable number. Unless            which population data were available was used to
by Public Law 280 services2 (35 percent);     noted elsewhere in this Bulletin, “do not know”             determine the population split for larger and smaller
                                              responses are excluded from the analysis.                   communities.

                                                                                                                           is more frequently reported by national
                Figure 2: Percentage of Respondents Reporting Youth Gang Activity                                          survey respondents.
                          in 2000, by Sample                                                                               The onset of gang activity is associated
                                                                                                                           with a variety of factors. Findings from a
                                         50                                                                                field study on gangs in the Navajo Nation
             Percentage of Respondents

                                                                                                                           indicate that the importation and spread
                                         40                                                                                of youth gangs are facilitated by specific
                                                                                                                           structural factors in the community (Arm-
                                                                                                                           strong et al., 2002). These factors include
                                         30                                                                                the frequency with which families move
                                                                                                                           off and onto the reservation; poverty, sub-
                                         20                                                                                stance abuse, and family dysfunction; the
                                                                                                                           development of cluster housing instead
                                                                                                                           of traditional single-family housing; and
                                                                                                                           a waning connection to Native American
                                                                                                                           culture and traditional kinship ties among
                                          0                                                                                cousins. These findings reflect a process
                                              Indian country sample    Comparison sample      National sample              of “multiple marginalization,” whereby
                                                      (n = 69)              (n = 85)              (n =975)
                                                                                                                           depressed “social and economic condi-
                 Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Youth Gang Survey.                    tions result in powerlessness” among
                                                                                                                           community members (Vigil, 2002:7). These
                                                                                                                           changes in structural forces weaken fami-
                                                                                                                           lies, schools, and other institutions tradi-
                                                                                                                           tionally associated with social control,
                 Figure 3: Number of Gangs Reported by Indian Country                                                      thus allowing youth to be socialized on
                           Communities, 2000 (n= 69)                                                                       the street by gangs. For example, respon-
                                                                                                                           dents in the Navajo gang study cited
                                         70                                                                                friendship and the sense of belonging to
                                                                                                                           something as significant benefits derived
                                                                                                                           from being in a gang (Armstrong et al.,
  Percentage of Respondents

                                                                                                                           2002). Related research indicates that gang
                                                                                                                           activity in Indian country communities is a
                                                                                                                           relatively recent phenomenon and is asso-
                                                                                                                           ciated with the social and structural con-
                                                                                                                           ditions of larger communities (Conway,
                                                                                                                           1998; Hailer, 1998). NYGC survey findings
                                         30                                                                                corroborate many of these findings.

                                         20                                                                                Gang Member Demographics
                                                                                                                           Communities that reported gang activity
                                                                                                                           in 2000 were asked to estimate demo-
                                                                                                                           graphic characteristics of gang members,
                                         0                                                                                 including age, gender, and race or ethnici-
                                                    1–5               6–10          More than 10       Do not know         ty.7 Respondents said that 80 percent of
                                                                      Number of Gangs                                      gang members in Indian country were
                                                                                                                           male and 20 percent were female. Not
                 Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.
                                                                                                                           7 Survey questions regarding demographic data about
                                                                                                                           gang members required respondents to estimate the
                                                                                                                           percentage of gang members who met certain criteria.
number of gangs and gang members,                                             suggesting the relatively recent onset of
                                                                                                                           Ideally, the percentages would be weighted by the
respectively, by community size. Not only                                     gang activity. Approximately half of re-     total number of gang members reported in a communi-
did a greater proportion of larger commu-                                     spondents from the comparison sample         ty to reflect differences in membership across the
nities report gang activity, these communi-                                   indicated that the problems began after      reporting communities. Given the available data, the
ties were also more likely to report greater                                  1994. Figure 7 (page 7) shows the percent-   results in this Bulletin are based on unweighted data
numbers of active gangs and gang mem-                                         age of respondents from each sample who      because of the significant reduction in eligible cases
                                                                                                                           for weighting procedures. Caution must be exercised
bers per community.                                                           first identified a gang problem in their
                                                                                                                           when interpreting the results, and any comparisons
                                                                              community during a particular year. The      with studies where results are based on weighted data
Gang Problem Onset                                                            figure suggests that gang activity began     must be done with these concerns in mind. However,
                                                                              later in the Indian country and compari-     comparing results derived from unweighted data with
Of the Indian country respondents who
                                                                              son samples than in the national sample      those derived from weighted data in this survey
experienced gang activity in 2000, half                                                                                    demonstrates only slight variation, providing con-
                                                                              and is not the longstanding problem that
said gang problems began after 1994,                                                                                       fidence in the findings reported here.

                                                                                                                  As seen in figures 8 and 9 (page 8), the
          Figure 4: Number of Gang Members Reported by Indian Country                                             findings related to gender and age makeup
                                                                                                                  for the Indian country sample are consis-
                    Communities, 2000 (n= 69)                                                                     tent with those for the comparison sam-
                                                                                                                  ple.8 Twenty percent of the gang members
  Percentage of Respondents

                                                                                                                  in the comparison sample were female,
                                                                                                                  compared with 6 percent in the national
                               40                                                                                 sample (Egley, 2002). Respondents for the
                                                                                                                  comparison sample reported a greater
                               30                                                                                 percentage of juvenile gang members
                                                                                                                  (70 percent), compared with 37 percent
                               20                                                                                 reported nationally in 2000 (Egley, 2002).
                                                                                                                  These data suggest that youth gangs in
                                                                                                                  Indian country and the comparison sam-
                                                                                                                  ple are similar in age and gender composi-
                                0                                                                                 tion. Additionally, these findings are con-
                                    25 or fewer            26–50         More than 50        Do not know          sistent with previous research that has
                                                     Number of Gang Members                                       found that areas experiencing a recent
                                                                                                                  onset of gang activity frequently have
         Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.                                                    larger proportions of juvenile and female
                                                                                                                  gang members than areas with longstand-
                                                                                                                  ing gang problems (Howell, Egley, and
                                                                                                                  Gleason, 2002). Respondents also estimat-
                                                                                                                  ed that 82 percent of the identified gangs
          Figure 5: Number of Gangs Reported by Indian Country Communities,                                       in Indian country included both male and
                    2000, by Community Size*                                                                      female members, 10 percent were female
                                                                                                                  dominated (more than 50 percent of the
                              100                                                                                 gang’s members were female), and 35
                               90                                                                                 percent were racially or ethnically mixed.
                                                                                                                  Gangs with such a demographic mixture
  Percentage of Respondents

                               80                                                                                 are sometimes referred to as “hybrid”
                               70                                                                                 gangs and are increasingly visible across
                                                                                                                  the country (Starbuck, Howell, and
                               60                                                                                 Lindquist, 2001).
                                                                                                                  Gangs in Schools
                                                                                                                  The survey asked respondents about gang
                               30                                                                                 activity in community schools. Eighty-six
                                                                                                                  percent of the Indian country communi-
                                                                                                                  ties with gang problems indicated gang
                               10                                                                                 activity in one or more community high
                                                       0                   0                                      schools. Additionally, 74 percent said
                                                                                                                  gangs were active in one or more commu-
                                    1–5                    6–10           More than 10        Do not know
                                                                                                                  nity middle schools, and 42 percent indi-
                                                           Number of Gangs                                        cated youth gang activity in one or more
                                                                                                                  community elementary schools. Howell
                                                                                                                  and Lynch (2000) report that youth gangs
                                     Smaller communities (n = 23)           Larger communities (n =34)            are linked with serious crime problems in
         *Smaller communities have a population of less than 2000; larger communities 2000 or more.               schools across the country. Those schools
         Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.                                                    in which gang activity was reported were
                                                                                                                  also more likely to have higher levels of
                                                                                                                  violent victimization, availability of drugs,
                                                                                                                  and students who carry guns than schools
surprisingly, survey respondents also                               African American/black (2 percent), and       reported not to have gang activity. Gang
believed the majority (78 percent) to be                            Asian (2 percent). Respondents indicated      member interviews from the study of
American Indian, Alaska Native, or Aleut.                           that approximately one-quarter of gang        gangs in the Navajo Nation indicated that
In fact, approximately one-half of respond-                         members in their community were younger       half of gang members were currently
ing communities indicated almost all gang                           than 15 years old and that almost half were
members (more than 90 percent) were                                 between 15 and 17 years old, suggesting
                                                                                                                  8 To reflect differences in membership across the
of this race. Twelve percent of gang mem-                           that nearly 75 percent of all reported gang
                                                                                                                  reporting jurisdictions, data from the national and
bers were reported to be Hispanic/Latino,                           members in Indian country were juveniles      comparison samples are weighted by the total number
followed by Caucasian/white (7 percent),                            (younger than 18 years old).                  of gang members reported in a community.

enrolled in school (Armstrong et al.,
2002). Given the risk of criminal activity                   Figure 6: Number of Gang Members Reported by Indian Country
associated with gangs in schools, these
findings highlight the importance of
                                                                       Communities, 2000, by Community Size*
school-based gang prevention and inter-
vention programs.                                                                                    60

Gang Migration

                                                 Percentage of Respondents
The survey defined “gang migrants” as
youth gang members who “already have
joined gangs in their former jurisdiction                                                            40
prior to their arrival in a new jurisdiction.”
Survey respondents were asked to esti-                                                               30
mate the percentage of gang members
who were migrants. Approximately 17
percent of all gang members were identi-                                                             20
fied as such, and the majority of respond-
ents (77 percent) perceived migration to                                                             10
be tied to social circumstances such as
gang members moving back into the com-
munity with their families. These results                                                                             0
                                                                                                                                   25 or fewer               26–50           More than 50          Do not know
are consistent with reports by law enforce-
ment agencies outside of Indian country                                                                                                               Number of Gang Members
(Egley, 2000; Maxson, 1998). Comparative-
ly few respondents said gang members
migrated to their community for criminal-                                                                                              Smaller communities (n =23)              Larger communities (n =34)
ly motivated reasons such as establishing
                                                            *Smaller communities have a population of less than 2000; larger communities 2000 or more.
drug markets, avoiding law enforcement,
                                                            Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.
or establishing an alliance with Native
American gangs.

Criminal Involvement
Survey respondents provided information                        Figure 7: Year of Onset of Gang Problems, by Survey Sample
about where Indian country gang mem-
bers committed their crimes. The majority                                                                                 40
of respondents (56 percent) reported that
                                                                             Cumulative Percentage of Jurisdictions

youth gangs committed their crimes both                                                                                   35
within and outside the community, where-
as 36 percent reported that crimes were                                                                                   30
committed only inside Indian country.
The survey asked respondents about the                                                                                    25
proportion of gang members involved in
a variety of criminal offenses. According                                                                                 20                                                                                 X
to respondents, gang members were most
frequently involved in graffiti (47 percent                                                                               15
of communities with a gang problem                                                                                                                                                                   X
reported a high degree of involvement in                                                                                  10                                                                 X
this offense), vandalism (40 percent), drug                                                                                                                                            X
sales (22 percent), and aggravated assault
(15 percent) (figure 10). These findings
                                                                                                                                                                       X      X
support earlier research that suggests                                                                                                                          X
that gang involvement in criminal activ-                                                                                0X       X               X     X
                                                                                                                      1980 and 1982          1984     1986    1988   1990    1992      1994 1996    1998     2000
ity in Indian country consists mainly of
property crime (Armstrong et al., 2002).                                                                                                                        Year of Onset
Indian country gang members who com-
mit assaults tend not to use firearms in                                                                                  X       Comparison sample            Indian country sample         National sample
these crimes. Twice as many communities
reported that gang members use weapons                         Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Survey of Youth Gangs.
other than firearms in conjunction with
assault crimes.

                                                                                                                 motivated (Armstrong et al., 2002). Alco-
             Figure 8: Gender of Gang Members, 2000, by Sample                                                   hol use, graffiti, and vandalism were the
                                                                                                                 primary crimes Navajo gang members en-
                                                                                                                 gaged in as a gang, which is consistent
                            100                                                                                  with the current survey findings. In fact,
 Percentage of Members

                             90                                                                                  83 percent of respondents in the Indian
                             80                                                                                  country survey said that only very little
                             70                                                                                  or some of the youth crime in their com-
                             60                                                                                  munities involves gang members.
                             40                                                                                  Influences on Community
                                                                                                                 Gang Activity
                             10                                                                                  Fifty-one percent of Indian country re-
                              0                                                                                  spondents reported that gang members
                                  Indian country            Comparison sample            National sample         returning to the community from prison in
                                  sample (n =59)                 (n = 65)                    (n =798)            2000 had a negative impact on local youth
                                                                                                                 gang problems. Thirty-one percent report-
                                                           Male           Female                                 ed very little impact, and 18 percent re-
                                                                                                                 ported no impact. These findings are com-
             Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Youth Gang Survey.              parable to those outside Indian country,
                                                                                                                 suggesting that a majority of communities,
                                                                                                                 regardless of size or location, are negative-
                                                                                                                 ly affected by gang members returning
                                                                                                                 from prison (Egley and Arjunan, 2002).
                Figure 9: Age of Gang Members, 2000, by Sample
                                                                                                                 To explore other possible sources of gang
                            100                                                                                  influence, the survey asked respondents
    Percentage of Members

                             90                                                                                  how much their community’s gang prob-
                             80                                                                                  lem was affected by gang activity in out-
                             70                                                                                  side areas. Fifty-three percent of respond-
                             60                                                                                  ing communities said gang activity in large
                             50                                                                                  cities influenced the nature of gang activi-
                             40                                                                                  ty in their community. Other sources of
                             30                                                                                  influence included border towns (24 per-
                                                                                                                 cent), outside schools (22 percent), and
                                                                                                                 prisons and jails (15 percent).
                                  Indian country            Comparison sample           National sample          NYGC further explored the association
                                  sample (n = 55)                (n = 47)                   (n =803)             between gang activity in Indian country
                                                                                                                 communities and the proximity of the
                                             Juvenile (younger than 18)      Adult (18 and older)                communities to large cities.9 Of respon-
                                                                                                                 dents reporting an urban influence, 70
             Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Youth Gang Survey.
                                                                                                                 percent were located within 120 miles of
                                                                                                                 a large city with gang activity, suggesting
                                                                                                                 that such Indian country communities are
The majority of respondents from com-                               property and violent crimes. Additionally,   more susceptible to the effects of large-
munities in all samples reported no gang-                           26 percent of larger communities reported    city gang activity. However, as with earlier
related homicides during 2000, and few                              one or more gang-related homicides in        research (Hailer, 1998), these data also
Indian country and comparison sample                                2000, compared with only 6 percent of        indicate that distance and isolation from
respondents indicated more than one                                 smaller communities.
gang-related homicide (figure 11). By
                                                                    Interviews with youth in the Navajo study
contrast, nearly one-quarter of respond-                                                                         9 The survey did not specify the influence of a large
                                                                    showed that most gang crime incidents in     nearby city. Therefore, respondents might have inter-
ents from the national sample reported
                                                                    Indian country are nonviolent (Armstrong     preted the question as general influence of large urban
more than one gang-related homicide.
                                                                    et al., 2002). Navajo youth who identified   areas, not specifically those located near their commu-
It is important to note that although the                           with gang culture focused primarily on       nity. For example, one respondent from a community
                                                                                                                 located almost 400 miles from the nearest city report-
reported level of violent criminal behavior                         values of antioppression, cohesion with-
                                                                                                                 ed the community’s gang problem was heavily influ-
by gang members in Indian country is rel-                           in the gang family, and participation in     enced by gang activity in large cities. A closer look at
atively low, the level of criminal activity                         leisure activities—not criminal enterpris-   Indian country communities that reported little or no
increases with the size of the community.                           es. Members of Navajo reservation gangs      influence from city gang activity, despite close proxim-
Figure 12 (page 10) shows that in the larg-                         indicated that most criminal activity,       ity to cities, might provide useful information about
er communities, respondents reported                                whether drug sales or violence, was indi-    the factors that enable those communities to prevent
                                                                                                                 gang activity from influencing local youth and the
more gang member involvement in both                                vidually motivated rather than gang

                                                                                                                                            Survey respondents also identified factors
            Figure 10: Criminal Activities of Gang Members in Indian Country,                                                               that prevent youth in their community
                                                                                                                                            from joining gangs. Respondents cited
                       2000 (n>65)                                                                                                          positive activities for youth, community
                                                                                                                                            and school programs that address vio-
                                                  50                                                                                        lence and gang activity, and traditional
  Percentage of Respondents*

                                                                                                                                            Indian culture and beliefs. Youth gang
                                                  40                                                                                        activity in the Navajo Nation was found
                                                                                                                                            to be influenced by similar factors. Re-
                                                                                                                                            searchers found that some gang-involved
                                                  30                                                                                        Navajo youth returned from urban set-
                                                                                                                                            tings and influenced peers in the commu-
                                                                                                                                            nity. Often these youth resided in subsi-
                                                                                                                                            dized public housing communities where
                                                                                                                                            numerous other youth and their families
                                                  10                                                                                        shared the same family and community
                                                                                                                                            factors of multiple marginality (see dis-
                                                                                                                                            cussion of these factors on page 5). In this
                                                   0                                                                                        way, some youth who have never lived off
                                                       Aggravated Burglary   Drug    Graffiti     Larceny/   Motor Robbery Vandalism
                                                                                                                                            the reservation in communities with gangs
                                                        assault              sales                  theft    vehicle
                                                                                                              theft                         are exposed indirectly to the gang culture.
                                                                                                                                            This pattern of youth becoming involved
             *Data reflect crimes in which respondents said “most/all” gang members were involved.                                          in gangs is consistent with research that
             Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.                                                                          suggests that the diffusion of popular
                                                                                                                                            media and culture contributes to the
                                                                                                                                            proliferation of gang activity (Klein, 1995).
                                                                                                                                            The relocation of gang members as they
                                                                                                                                            moved with their families out of the cities
            Figure 11: Number of Gang-Related Homicides in 2000, by Sample                                                                  (Maxson, 1998), movies glorifying youth
                                                                                                                                            gangs (such as Colors), and the popularity
                                                  100                                                                                       of “gangsta” rap music appear to have
                                                                                                                                            worked together to introduce large-city
                      Percentage of Respondents

                                                   80                                                                                       gang culture to youth in the suburbs and
                                                                                                                                            areas far away from central cities.
                                                   60                                                                                       Defining Youth Gangs
                                                   50                                                                                       The characteristics that guide local defini-
                                                   40                                                                                       tions of “youth gang” often vary among law
                                                   30                                                                                       enforcement agencies (NYGC, 2000). To
                                                                                                                                            examine this issue in Indian country,
                                                   20                                                                                       respondents were asked to rank six char-
                                                   10                                                                                       acteristics according to their importance in
                                                                                                                                            defining a youth gang in their community.
                                                                  Zero                   One                    More than one               As shown in the table (page 10), the aver-
                                                                                                                                            age rank for each characteristic is approx-
                                                                               Number of Homicides                                          imately 3 to 4, whereas a ranking of 1 or 2
                                                                                                                                            would indicate greater importance.
                                                            Indian country sample        Comparison sample              National sample     No one characteristic emerges as domi-
                                                            (n =59)                      (n =65)                        (n =646)            nant over the others—considerable vari-
             Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Youth Gang Survey.
                                                                                                                                            ation exists among communities as to
                                                                                                                                            the most important criteria for defining
                                                                                                                                            a youth gang. However, the average rank
                                                                                                                                            of “commits crime together” is significant-
large cities do not insulate Indian country                                                     contributing factors reported by respond-   ly lower among Indian country respond-
communities from the influence of large                                                         ents include parental apathy, erosion of    ents than among comparison sample
cities’ gang activity.                                                                          the family structure, lack of values and    respondents. This suggests that group
                                                                                                low self-esteem among youth, social prob-   criminal activity is a less defining feature
Factors contributing to the persistence
                                                                                                lems other than poverty (mainly drug and    of youth gangs in Indian country. This
of gang activity in Indian country commu-
                                                                                                alcohol abuse but also unemployment,        result may be related to the developing
nities most often included the spread of
                                                                                                child abuse, and domestic violence), and    nature of youth gangs and youthful experi-
the gang culture from nearby cities and
                                                                                                a lack of positive activities for youth.    mentation with gang identity in Indian
towns (37 percent of respondents). Other

                                                                                                                            communities, 65 percent of larger commu-
             Figure 12: Criminal Activities of Gang Members in Indian Country,                                              nities said the gang problem was serious
                                                                                                                            or very serious, compared with 35 percent
                        2000, by Community Size*                                                                            of smaller communities. Other problems,
                                                                                                                            including substance abuse and domestic
                                70                                                                                          violence, were recognized as significant
  Percentage of Respondents**

                                                                                                                            problems across communities, regardless
                                                                                                                            of size.
                                                                                                                            Perceptions of the Youth
                                40                                                                                          Gang Problem
                                                                                                                            Forty-nine percent of responding commu-
                                30                                                                                          nities said that the magnitude of their
                                                                                                                            youth gang problem was about the same
                                                                                                                            in 2000 as it was in 1999. Thirty-four per-
                                                                                                                            cent said it had worsened and 17 percent
                                                                                                                            said it had improved.
                                                 0                                           0          0
                                     Aggravated Burglary   Drug     Graffiti     Larceny/     Motor     Robbery Vandalism
                                      assault              sales                  theft      vehicle                        Implications for
                                                                                              theft                         Program and Policy
                                              Smaller communities (n > 20)                 Larger communities (n > 31)      Responses
                                                                                                                            Findings from NYGC’s Survey of Youth
               *Smaller communities have a population of less than 2000; larger communities 2000 or more.                   Gangs in Indian Country add to the cur-
               **Data reflect crimes in which respondents said “most/all” gang members were involved.                       rent understanding of gang activity in
               Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.
                                                                                                                            these areas and have important implica-
                                                                                                                            tions for policy and practice regarding
                                                                                                                            tribal youth. In general, the intensity of
                                                                                                                            the gang problem and the severity of
Characteristics Used in Defining a Youth Gang                                                                               gang members’ criminal involvement are
                                                                                                                            relatively low. The majority of the sur-
                                                                    Average Rank (1=Highest, 6=Lowest)                      vey respondents appear to experience
                                                              Indian Country Sample    Comparison Sample                    gang problems similar to those in less
          Gang Characteristic                                         (n=56)                  (n=45)                        populated communities throughout the
          Claims a turf or territory                                          3.9                            4.3            nation. Based on this finding, it is possible
                                                                                                                            to recommend prevention, intervention,
          Commits crime together                                              3.6                            2.4            and suppression programs for Indian com-
                                                                                                                            munities by considering programs that
          Has a leader or several
                                                                                                                            have successfully targeted delinquent
          leaders                                                             3.5                            3.4
                                                                                                                            activity and gang involvement in the
          Has a name                                                          3.4                            3.5            general population.
          Displays or wears common                                                                                          For example, because the majority of Indi-
          colors or other insignia                                            3.3                            4.0            an country communities say their gangs
                                                                                                                            are in the early stages of development—
          Hangs out together                                                  3.2                            3.4            and because delinquent behavior is a
                                                                                                                            strong predictor of gang membership—
Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country; 2000 National Youth Gang Survey.
                                                                                                                            programs that prevent delinquency are
                                                                                                                            likely to reduce gang involvement (Howell,
                                                                                                                            Egley, and Gleason, 2002). Delinquency
Social Problems in the                                                         13 reveals that 96 percent of respondents    prevention programs that help youth
Community                                                                      reported alcohol abuse as a significant      develop social skills, provide opportuni-
                                                                               problem, followed by drug abuse (88 per-     ties to use them, and recognize youth for
Much of the literature about Indian coun-
                                                                               cent) and domestic violence (80 percent).    successfully implementing them may help
try communities, along with input from
                                                                               Of the eight social problems respondents     prevent delinquency involvement (Cata-
advisory group members and practition-
                                                                               were asked to rate, youth gangs ranked       lano and Hawkins, 1996). However, it is
ers in the field, suggests that social condi-
                                                                               second to last as a serious problem (by      important to remember that although
tions in these areas are often associated
                                                                               52 percent of communities) and violent       these programs have shown promise,
with violence and victimization (Arm-
                                                                               juvenile crime ranked last (42 percent).     most have not been tested with an Indian
strong et al., 2002; Conway, 1998; Hailer,
1998). Thus, survey respondents were                                                                                        population. Therefore, these programs
                                                                               Although gang activity does not generally
asked to rate the seriousness of various                                                                                    may need to be adapted to better address
                                                                               appear to be a serious problem relative to
social problems in the community. Figure                                       other social conditions in Indian country

                                                                                                                     Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways
   Figure 13: Perceived Seriousness of Social Problems in Indian                                                     (RIPPW) is an effective violence preven-
                                                                                                                     tion curriculum for middle school stu-
              Country Communities in 2000 (n=69)                                                                     dents (Farrell and Meyer, 1997, 1998). The
                                                                                                                     program builds knowledge, changes atti-
   Percentage of Respondents*

                                                                                                                     tudes, and enhances youth skills for act-
                                                                                                                     ing against violence. It also teaches chil-
                                80                                                                                   dren about the nature of violence and its
                                                                                                                     consequences. The curriculum, which
                                60                                                                                   consists of 18 sessions over the course of
                                                                                                                     1 semester, teaches sixth grade students
                                                                                                                     strategies for negotiating interpersonal
                                40                                                                                   conflicts nonviolently. Adult role models
                                                                                                                     trained in the curriculum administer the
                                20                                                                                   weekly sessions. Peer mediation, team-
                                                                                                                     building activities, small group work, and
                                 0                                                                                   role-playing activities are used regularly.
                                      Alcohol   Drug Domestic Nonviolent Child Violent   Youth     Violent           RIPPW appears to affect males and
                                       abuse    abuse violence juvenile   abuse adult    gangs    juvenile           females differently, with boys—but not
                                                              delinquency       crime              crime             girls—exhibiting lower levels of violent
   *Data reflect percentage of respondents who rated a social problem “serious” or “very serious.”                   behavior (e.g., fighting, threatening to hurt
   Source: 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country.                                                             someone, or carrying weapons), sup-
                                                                                                                     pressed anger, assault against teachers,
                                                                                                                     and school suspensions. Girls showed
                                                                                                                     improvements in problem solving.
issues faced by Indian populations and to                            strategies (NYGC, 2002a, 2002b). It is par-
evaluate their effectiveness in this setting.                        ticularly important that all community          Law-Related Education (LRE) (www.
                                                                     agencies collaborate in combining re-  consists of K–12 classroom
                                                                     sources to develop the most comprehen-          instruction designed to educate youth
A Comprehensive                                                      sive and effective approach to combating        about the origin and role of law in key
Approach                                                             local gang problems (Howell, Egley, and         social systems, such as the family, com-
                                                                     Gleason, 2002; Starbuck, Howell, and            munity, school, and juvenile and criminal
Survey findings suggest that the most                                                                                justice systems. LRE programs draw prac-
critical concerns in Indian country com-                             Lindquist, 2001).
                                                                                                                     tical connections among the everyday
munities are the social problems that con-                                                                           lives of young people and the law, human
tribute to youth gang involvement, not                               Prevention
                                                                                                                     rights, and democratic values. LRE pro-
gangs themselves. Respondents identified                             Described below are prevention programs         grams have been effective in improving
a variety of factors that promote delin-                             that target the general population and          academic performance and preventing
quent behavior and gang activity, includ-                            seek to prevent delinquency and violence,       general delinquency (Maguin and Loeber,
ing parental apathy, erosion of family                               which can be stepping stones to gang            1996). In addition, some evidence shows
structure, low self-esteem, social prob-                             membership. Most of these school-based          that LRE prevents aggressive behavior
lems in the community, and lack of posi-                             programs include a parental training and        (Gottfredson, 1990; Johnson and Hunter,
tive activities for youth. Therefore, pro-                           involvement component and focus on              1985).
grams incorporating a range of strategies                            preventing general violence and building
to prevent, control, and reduce youth                                prosocial skills. It is important to note       Promoting a safe school environment and
crime in Indian country could effectively                            that these programs have not been evalu-        making all students feel safe may reduce
combat gangs. Although the likely focus of                           ated specifically for their effects on poten-   the risk of gang involvement, but tradi-
most Indian country communities will be                              tial gang involvement (Catalano et al.,         tional school security measures such as
prevention programs, community mem-                                  1998) and, with the exception of two sub-       security guards, metal detectors, and lock-
bers should consider all three levels (i.e.,                         stance abuse programs, none of these            er checks do not appear to be a solution,
prevention, intervention, and suppres-                               programs has been evaluated specifically        in and of themselves, to gang problems
sion), especially in larger communities                              for effectiveness with Indian country youth.    (Gottfredson and Gottfredson, 2001; Howell
where gang problems were reported to                                                                                 and Lynch, 2000). Additional interventions
be more serious.                                                     General delinquency. A wide variety of          are needed. The Safe Schools Unit of the
                                                                     classroom violence prevention curricu-          San Diego County (CA) Office of Educa-
Further, community-specific strategies                               lums are being implemented in schools           tion has developed a promising practical
for combating youth gangs are most ben-                              across the country, and many of these           approach for increasing school safety
eficial when based on a detailed assess-                             have proven effective (Gottfredson, 2001).      and intervening in student conflicts,
ment of the local gang problem. NYGC has                             Selected programs are briefly described         particularly gang-related situations
developed both an assessment protocol                                here (many others are reviewed in Howell,       (Sakamoto, 1996). The Safe Schools Unit
and a comprehensive model for prevent-                               2003). Programs selected for inclusion          has a Violence Prevention/Intervention
ing and combating gang membership and                                here have reasonable implementation             (VPI) team that helps schools develop
activity that consists of a continuum of                             potential in Indian country, particularly       comprehensive safety plans. In addition
prevention, intervention, and suppression                            in the more populated areas.

to outlining school safety policies, proce-               G.R.E.A.T. officer training sessions for       (Haggerty et al., 1999). The program’s goal
dures, and crisis response protocols, these               Bureau of Indian Affairs/Tribal Officers       is to empower parents of children ages 8
plans include training teachers, students,                have graduated more than 50 officers, and      to 14 to reduce the likelihood that their
and parents to address gangs and vio-                     plans exist for additional sessions in         children will abuse drugs and alcohol or
lence. The VPI team also operates a Rapid                 upcoming years.                                develop other common adolescent prob-
Response Unit that assists schools during                                                                lems. The flexible PDFY curriculum has
crisis situations. This comprehensive                     Substance abuse. Perhaps the most com-
                                                                                                         been used with a broad range of families
approach, along with other prevention                     pelling Indian country survey finding was
                                                                                                         of various socioeconomic and cultural
efforts and a history of multiagency part-                the magnitude of social problems report-
                                                                                                         backgrounds and is designed to reach
nerships, has improved the safety of San                  ed, specifically the number of communi-
                                                                                                         adult learners regardless of learning style
Diego schools.                                            ties citing alcohol abuse and drug abuse
                                                                                                         or level of education. To date, it has been
                                                          as a significant problem (96 percent and
                                                                                                         implemented in conjunction with the Iowa
A national assessment of school-based                     88 percent, respectively). Because of the
                                                                                                         Strengthening Families Program and used
gang prevention and intervention pro-                     high incidence of alcohol and drug abuse,
                                                                                                         successfully with American Indian families
grams (Gottfredson and Gottfredson,                       this area of prevention is particularly
                                                                                                         (Harachi, Catalano, and Hawkins, 1997).
2001) concluded that many of them ad-                     pertinent to the Indian population. The
dress gang involvement but that most of                   National Institute on Drug Abuse (1997)        The Midwestern Prevention Project is
them are not well implemented. Never-                     has identified a number of effective pro-      another successful program for prevent-
theless, consideration should be given to                 grams for preventing drug use and antiso-      ing the use of gateway substances (alco-
effective classroom violence prevention                   cial behavior among children and adoles-       hol, cigarettes, and marijuana) among low-
curriculums (Gottfredson, 2001) that can                  cents. Two of these programs have been         and high-risk seventh and eighth graders
easily be added to traditional instruction                implemented with Indian populations and        (Johnson et al., 1990). The program is
in schools in Indian country.                             show good potential for success in those       unique because it addresses all five of
                                                          communities.                                   the risk factor domains:
Gang involvement. Survey respondents
said community and school programs that                   The Strengthening Families Program is a        ◆ All students are offered individual skills
addressed violence and gang activity were                 7-week curriculum designed to bring par-         training.
effective ways to prevent community youth                 ents together with their 10- to 14-year-old    ◆ Parents are provided training and
from becoming involved in gang activity. As               children, with the goal of reducing sub-         opportunities for direct involvement
such, the Gang Resistance Education and                   stance abuse and other problem behav-            with their children and their children’s
Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program10 may be an                 iors in youth. The program began as an           schools.
appropriate way to effectively reduce gang                effort to help substance-abusing parents
involvement in Indian country. Uniformed                  improve their parenting skills and thus        ◆ Peers are involved in positive
law enforcement officers teach the 13-week                reduce their children’s risk factors (Kump-      modeling.
course mainly to middle school students                   fer and Alvarado, 1998). It contains three     ◆ The school is the central component
(Esbensen and Osgood, 1997; Esbensen                      elements: a children’s skills program, a         for drug prevention programming,
et al., 2001). In addition to educating stu-              parent training program, and a family skills     which includes a variety of social
dents about the dangers of gang involve-                  training program.                                learning techniques, and policies are
ment, lessons emphasize cognitive-                                                                         modified to discourage drug use.
behavioral training, social skills develop-               This intervention approach has been eval-
                                                          uated in a variety of settings and with sev-   ◆ Community policies and social norms
ment, refusal skills training, and conflict
                                                          eral racial and ethnic groups (Molgaard,         about drug use are modified and
resolution. Modified curriculums have
                                                          Spoth, and Redmond, 2000), including             clarified to set and reinforce clear
been developed for fifth and sixth graders
                                                          Indian youth and families (Kumpfer, Mol-         behavioral standards.
and third and fourth graders. Multisite
evaluations of G.R.E.A.T. show the program                gaard, and Spoth, 1996; Molgaard and
has small but positive effects on student                 Spoth, 2001). Youth who completed the          Intervention
attitudes and ability to resist peer pres-                program had significantly lower rates of
                                                                                                         Intervention programs focus on youth iden-
sure to join gangs (Palumbo and Ferguson,                 alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use than
                                                                                                         tified as being at risk of becoming delin-
1995; Esbensen et al., 2001). For example,                youth in the control group. Other positive
                                                                                                         quent or involved in a gang. These pro-
students who received G.R.E.A.T. training                 outcomes included reductions in family
                                                                                                         grams also address general delinquency.
had less self-reported delinquency, fewer                 conflict, improvement in family communi-
gang affiliations, and greater commitment                 cation and organization, and reductions        General delinquency. The National Court
to school and prosocial peers than stu-                   in delinquency. The Iowa Strengthening         Appointed Special Advocate Association
dents who did not participate in the pro-                 Families Program, a revision of the initial    (CASA) implemented the Tribal Court
gram (Esbensen et al., 2001). To date,                    program model, has been adapted for            CASA project in 1994 to support programs
G.R.E.A.T. has been implemented in seven                  Indian populations by the Iowa University      in which volunteers act as advocates for
Indian country communities, with the                      Extension to Families (www.extension.          abused or neglected American Indian
assistance of the National Native American                                    and Alaska Native children (Frey, 2002).
Law Enforcement Association and the Boys                                                                 National CASA oversees two grants that
                                                          Preparing for the Drug Free Years (PDFY)
& Girls Clubs of America. Additionally, two                                                              assist tribal court programs: the National
                                                          is an effective program that decreases
                                                                                                         Grants Program and CASA Program De-
                                                          problem behaviors among teens by im-
                                                                                                         velopment for Native American Tribal
                                                          proving parenting practices to reduce risk
10For more information about the G.R.E.A.T. program in                                                   Courts. The National Grants Program, ad-
                                                          factors and increase protective factors
Indian country, visit                                                  ministered in partnership with the Office

of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Pre-        Targeted Outreach (GPTTO) and Gang            curfew laws, antiloitering laws, and civil
vention, provides funding to help Indian        Intervention Through Targeted Outreach        injunctions (Curry and Decker, 2003;
communities develop and operate CASA            (GITTO). The components are imple-            Esbensen, 2000; Howell, 2000).
programs. CASA Program Development for          mented separately, depending on the
Native American Tribal Courts provides                                                        Juvenile courts can make a significant
                                                severity of gang problems near club loca-
funds specifically to tribal communities                                                      contribution to reducing gang involve-
                                                tions in a particular city. The respective
that wish to implement a CASA program.                                                        ment. An effective juvenile probation pro-
                                                components try either to prevent high-risk
Because problems vary from community                                                          gram in Peoria County, IL, targets juvenile
                                                youth from joining gangs (GPTTO) or to
to community, the Tribal Court CASA proj-                                                     offenders who have been placed on pro-
                                                provide alternatives to the gang lifestyle
ect tailors programs to individual commu-                                                     bation for gang-related behavior or sub-
                                                by mainstreaming youth into club pro-
nities’ needs. To date, no evaluation of pro-                                                 stance abuse (Adams, 2002). The program
                                                gramming (GITTO).
gram effectiveness has been performed.                                                        consists of several elements essential to
                                                In the prevention model (GPTTO), youth        intensive supervision probation, including
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)        are recruited to participate in all aspects   small caseloads, frequent contacts with
has implemented a number of programs            of Boys & Girls Club programming. The         probationers, distinct and graduated
that address important youth issues             program has produced generally posi-          phases to structure movement through
and that have shown particular promise          tive outcomes in behavior related to          the program, substance abuse assess-
with at-risk populations (         both school and delinquency measures,         ments, rehabilitation programs, and behav-
programs). The success of its programs          although the differences between the          ioral controls. Evaluation of the program
has prompted BGCA to open clubs in Indi-        comparison group and those participating      has demonstrated positive effects; nearly
an country communities. Since the first         in the program were stronger for school-      60 percent of program participants were
club opened in Pine Ridge, SD, in 1992, the     related behaviors than for delinquency        not charged with a new criminal offense,
number of Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian          and gang-related behaviors. Evaluations       and approximately 65 percent did not
country has expanded to 123 locations           of youth behavior after participating in      receive any technical violations while in
in 23 states, and the clubs serve nearly        GPTTO for 1 year suggested that more          the program.
80,000 American Indian youth. The Indian        frequent attendance was associated with
country Boys & Girls Clubs feature tai-         a reduced likelihood of youth wearing         Implementing a Continuum
lored programs that improve both the            gang colors, having contact with the ju-      of Programs
outcomes for youth participating in BGCA        venile justice system, and exhibiting de-
and the individual Indian community cul-        linquent behaviors. Frequent attendance       A number of grant programs have been
tures. BGCA programs in Indian country          was also associated with improved school      implemented to help Indian country com-
include SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and         outcomes and higher levels of positive        munities develop prevention, intervention,
Resistance Training, including drug and         peer and family relationships (Arbreton       and suppression programs that address
alcohol prevention and sexual abstinence)       and McClanahan, 2002).                        juvenile delinquency, violence, and victim-
and Power Hour (afterschool tutoring)                                                         ization. OJJDP’s Tribal Youth Program
(Fogerty, 2002).                                In the intervention model (GITTO), youth      (TYP), dedicated to preventing and con-
                                                are recruited to participate in a project     trolling delinquency and improving the
Gang involvement. Targeted Outreach,            staffed by the Boys & Girls Club but run      juvenile justice system in American Indian
also operated by BGCA in Indian country,        separately from daily club activities         communities (Andrews, 1999), is one such
is a communitywide gang prevention pro-         (either after typical club hours or on a      program. Through grant funds, training,
gram that intervenes with youth at risk for     one-on-one basis). Programs are offered       and technical assistance, TYP works to
gang involvement, those in the “wannabe”        in five core areas: character and leader-     meet the unique needs of individual com-
stage, and current gang members. Target-        ship development, education and career        munities by—
ed Outreach incorporates four objectives:       development, health and life skills, the
community mobilization, recruitment,            arts, and sports, fitness, and recreation.    ◆ Reducing, controlling, and preventing
mainstreaming and programming, and              Like GPTTO, GITTO has produced modest           crime by and against tribal youth.
case management. Local implementation           positive outcomes for youth participating     ◆ Providing interventions for court-
of this program begins with mobilizing          in the program. More frequent attendance        involved youth.
community leaders and club staff, who           at GITTO was associated with less involve-    ◆ Improving tribal juvenile justice
discuss local gang issues, clarify their        ment in gang-associated behaviors, less         systems.
roles, and design a strategy for offering       contact with the juvenile justice system,
youth alternatives to the gang lifestyle.       and more positive school engagement           ◆ Providing alcohol and drug-use
Police departments, schools, social servic-     (Arbreton and McClanahan, 2002).                prevention programs.
es agencies, and community organizations                                                      To date, 161 tribal communities have
recruit at-risk youth into club programs in     Suppression                                   received TYP funding. The Michigan Pub-
a nonstigmatizing way through direct out-                                                     lic Health Institute, in partnership with
                                                Suppression techniques are aimed at indi-
reach efforts and a referral network that                                                     the Native American Institute at Michigan
                                                viduals who are already gang members or
links local clubs with courts. Once in                                                        State University, is currently helping five
                                                participating in criminal activity (Howell,
BGCA, youth participate in programs                                                           tribes evaluate programs they developed
                                                2000) and involve the police, courts, and
based on their individual interests and                                                       with TYP funds (Fung and Wyrick, 2001).
                                                corrections. Law enforcement officers
needs.                                                                                        Because communities have used these
                                                have combatted gangs with specialized
The Targeted Outreach initiative has two        gang units, prosecution, specialized pro-     resources in varying ways, not all pro-
components: Gang Prevention Through             bation programs, and ordinances such as       grams have been evaluated.

The Native American Alliance Foundation         whose respondents more closely resemble              Armstrong, T.L., Bluehouse, P., Dennison, A.,
(NAAF) was awarded a cooperative agree-         Indian country communities in size and               Mason, H., Mendenhall, B., Wall, D., and Zion, J.
ment to provide American Indian and             geographic location. These comparisons               2002. Finding and knowing the gang nayee—
Alaska Native tribes with training and          suggest similar levels of gang activity and          Field initiated gang research project: The judi-
technical assistance to develop or en-          similar gender and age composition of                cial branch of the Navajo Nation. Unpublished
hance their juvenile justice systems. A         gang members. Additionally, findings from            final report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
primary responsibility of this program is       a field study of youth gangs in the Navajo           of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of
                                                                                                     Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
to offer effective, culturally appropriate      Nation substantiate many of the survey
training and technical assistance that          results presented.                                   Catalano, R.F., Arthur, M.W., Hawkins, J.D.,
addresses the problems faced by Indian                                                               Berglund, L., and Olson, J.J. 1998. Comprehen-
youth and their families. Through such          This preliminary assessment of the gang
                                                                                                     sive community- and school-based interven-
training, NAAF helps communities in Indi-       problem in Indian country can be used                tions to prevent antisocial behavior. In Serious
an country develop a more comprehen-            to guide systematic response to gang ac-             and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and
sive approach to addressing juvenile            tivity in these communities. However,                Successful Interventions, edited by R. Loeber and
delinquency, violence, and victimization.       community-specific strategies should be              D.P. Farrington. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
                                                based on detailed assessments of local               Publications, pp. 248–283.
                                                gang problems and involve community
                                                                                                     Catalano, R.F., and Hawkins, J.D. 1996. The
Summary                                         agencies in a continuum of programs and
                                                                                                     social development model: A theory of antiso-
                                                strategies that focuses on prevention,
In the past few years, a growing concern                                                             cial behavior. In Delinquency and Crime: Current
                                                intervention, and suppression.
about crime, delinquency, and gang activi-                                                           Theories, edited by J. David Hawkins. Cam-
ty in Indian country has emerged. Previ-        A number of programs have effectively                bridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
ous research shows that much of the gang        reduced delinquency, and some look
                                                                                                     Coalition for Juvenile Justice. 2000. Enlarging
activity seems to be an expression of           promising for reducing gang involvement
                                                                                                     the Healing Circle: Ensuring Justice for American
youthful experimentation with gang identi-      in the general population. Many of these             Indian Children. Report on the 5th Annual Eth-
ty and that a strained social environment,      programs could be culturally tailored for            nic and Cultural Diversity Training Conference.
the appeal of popular culture surrounding       an Indian country population and possibly            Washington, DC: Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
gang activity, and a lack of positive activ-    prove equally effective for its youth.
ities for youth contribute to the Amer-         School- and community-based programs to              Conway, M.K. 1998. Gangs on Indian Reserva-
ican Indian youth gang phenomenon               prevent, control, and reduce youth crime             tions. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
(Armstrong et al., 2002).                       and violence in general, such as BGCA and            Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
                                                G.R.E.A.T., appear promising, as do pro-             Curry, G.D., and Decker, S.H. 2003. Confronting
Few research studies have focused specif-
                                                grams that address substance abuse.                  Gangs: Crime and Community, 2d ed. Los Ange-
ically on the level of youth gang activity
                                                Intervention programs, such as the BGCA              les, CA: Roxbury Publishing.
in these communities. This study has
                                                Targeted Outreach program, may effec-
provided a detailed national assessment                                                              Egley, A., Jr. 2000. Highlights of the 1999 National
                                                tively reduce gang involvement in these
of gang activity in Indian country commu-                                                            Youth Gang Survey. Fact Sheet. Washington, DC:
                                                areas. For communities experiencing a
nities that can guide effective response                                                             U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice
                                                more severe gang problem, suppression
to the problem. Findings in this Bulletin                                                            Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delin-
                                                tactics that reduce gang-related criminal
reveal that 23 percent of responding Indi-                                                           quency Prevention.
                                                activity might be necessary. Additionally,
an country communities experienced a
                                                as the gang problem in Indian country                Egley, A., Jr. 2002. National Youth Gang Survey
youth gang problem in 2000. The size of
                                                appears to be an extension of more seri-             Trends From 1996 to 2000. Fact Sheet. Washing-
the youth gang problem varied consider-
                                                ous problems, including poverty, sub-                ton, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
ably, with many communities reporting                                                                Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and
                                                stance abuse, and unemployment, policies
comparatively few youth gangs and gang                                                               Delinquency Prevention.
                                                aimed at improving overall conditions in a
members. In general, gang members most
                                                community will most likely have a concur-            Egley, A., Jr., and Arjunan, M. 2002. Highlights of
often were said to be juvenile, male, and
                                                rent and positive impact on the communi-             the 2000 National Youth Gang Survey. Fact Sheet.
involved in property crimes such as van-
                                                ty’s gang problem.                                   Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,
dalism and graffiti. Survey findings indicate
that larger communities have a greater                                                               Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile
number of gangs and gang members,                                                                    Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
experience more violent crime by gang                                                                Esbensen, F.A. 2000. Preventing Adolescent Gang
                                                Adams, S. 2002. The Impact of Intensive Juvenile
members (including homicides), and                                                                   Involvement. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S.
                                                Probation Programs. Chicago, IL: Illinois Criminal
report gang activity as a more serious          Justice Information Authority.                       Department of Justice, Office of Justice Pro-
social problem.                                                                                      grams, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquen-
                                                Andrews, C. 1999. Tribal Youth Program. Fact         cy Prevention.
The data presented here help clarify            Sheet. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
whether, and in what ways, gangs in Indi-       Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of       Esbensen, F.A., and Osgood, D.W. 1997. National
an country are similar or different from        Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.         Evaluation of G.R.E.A.T. Research in Brief. Wash-
other youth gangs. Although the findings                                                             ington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
for Indian country communities and na-          Arbreton, A.J.A., and McClanahan, W.S. 2002.         Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
tional sample respondents differed, it is       Targeted Outreach: Boys & Girls Clubs of Ameri-
                                                ca’s Approach to Gang Prevention and Interven-       Esbensen, F.A., Osgood, D.W., Taylor, T.J.,
possible to compare Indian country data                                                              Peterson, D., and Freng, A. 2001. How great is
                                                tion. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.
with data from the comparison sample,

G.R.E.A.T.? Results from a longitudinal quasi-        Hickman, M. 2003. Tribal Law Enforcement,           Maguin, E., and Loeber, R. 1996. Academic
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Policy 1(1):87–118.                                   Department of Justice, Office of Justice Pro-       Justice 20:145–264.
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Farrell, A.D., and Meyer, A.L. 1998. Social skills                                                        Molgaard, V.K., and Spoth, R.L. 2001. Strength-
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                                                                                                          Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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Starbuck, D., Howell, J.C., and Lindquist, D.J.
2001. Hybrid and Other Modern Gangs. Bulletin.          Acknowledgments
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile          Aline K. Major and Arlen Egley, Jr., Ph.D., are Research Associates with the National
Justice and Delinquency Prevention.                     Youth Gang Center (NYGC), which is operated for the Office of Juvenile Justice and
                                                        Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) by the Institute for Intergovernmental Research in
Vigil, J.D. 2002. A Rainbow of Gangs: Street Cul-       Tallahassee, Florida. James C. Howell, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Researcher with NYGC.
tures in the Mega-City. Austin, TX: University of       Barbara Mendenhall is the Assistant Director and Troy Armstrong, Ph.D., is the Director
Texas Press.                                            of the Center for Delinquency and Crime Policy Studies at California State University,
Wakeling, S., Jorgensen, M., Michaelson, S., and        Sacramento.
Begay, M. 2001. Policing on American Indian             The authors would like to thank the members of the Indian Country Survey Advisory
Reservations. Research Report. Washington, DC:          Group for their invaluable direction and input, including Chief Allan, Legislative Associ-
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice           ate, National Congress of American Indians; Laura Ansera, Tribal Youth Program Man-
Programs, National Institute of Justice.                ager, OJJDP; Todd Araujo, Deputy Director, Office of Tribal Justice, U.S. Department of
                                                        Justice; Frank Canizales, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human
This Bulletin was prepared under cooperative            Services; Roman Duran, First Vice President, National American Indian Court Judges
agreement number 95–JD–MU–K001 from the                 Association; Norena Henry, Director, American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, U.S.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency              Department of Justice; Velma Mason, Ph.D., Director, Office for Alcohol and Substance
Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.                 Abuse Prevention, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian
                                                        Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; Peter Maybee, Executive Officer, Office of Law
Points of view or opinions expressed in this            Enforcement Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; Ada
document are those of the author(s) and do not          Pecos Melton, President, American Indian Development Associates; Dave Nicholas,
necessarily represent the official position or          Office of Law Enforcement Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the
policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of             Interior; Arlene Wise, Office for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention, Office of the
Justice.                                                Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the
                                                        Interior; and Emily Wright, Office of Public and Indian Housing, Office of Native Ameri-
                                                        can Programs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
 The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
 Prevention is a component of the Office of             The authors are grateful to NYGC Director John Moore, other NYGC staff, and Norena
 Justice Programs, which also includes the              Henry for their valuable review of earlier versions of this Bulletin. The authors also
 Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of            would like to thank Phelan Wyrick, Ph.D., Gang Program Coordinator, OJJDP, for mak-
 Justice Statistics, the National Institute of          ing substantive contributions to this publication, and Jonathan Witte of the Juvenile
 Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.          Justice Clearinghouse for his skillful editing of the manuscript. In addition, the authors
                                                        gratefully acknowledge staff from MGT of America for their assistance in data collection
                                                        and data entry and Charlene White, Institute for Intergovernmental Research, and
                                                        Randrick “Kimo” Souza, Mesa Gang Intervention Project (Arizona), for their assistance
                                                        in contacting survey recipients. Finally, the authors would like to thank the tribal and law
                                                        enforcement representatives who responded to the survey.

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