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Gangs on Pine Ridge

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  • Gangs on Pine Ridge

    WOUNDED KNEE, South Dakota (Reuters) - Over the past 15 years, violent youth gangs have invaded Indian reservations, bringing terror, drugs and vandalism to societies that were already in deep distress.

    On the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, inhabited by 15,000-20,000 members of the Lakota Sioux, police believe there may be 3,500 acknowledged gang members.

    "In the village of Pine Ridge alone, we have a dozen gangs -- Outlaws, Wild Boyz, Trey Trey, Nomads, Iggy Boyz, Aimster Gangsta, Wild Girls, Bad *** *****es, Southside Boyz, Northside Boyz and Gangsta Disciples," said John Mousseau, an officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal police who specializes in combating gang activity.

    "Every little community on the reservation has its gang or gangs. There's one little place -- Potato Creek. It only has 40 residents but it has a gang with 15 members," he said.

    The gangs deal in cocaine, marijuana and increasingly in methamphetamine. Some, like the Nomads, have a command structure with a ruling council and a set of laws.

    "Gang members are responsible for close to 70 percent of crimes on the reservation -- assaults, sexual assaults, intimidation, harassment, burglaries, vandalism, graffiti and sometimes murder," Mousseau said.

    Police chief James Two Bulls said there were 10-12 homicides on the reservation each year. Alcohol is almost always involved. Although the reservation is officially dry, residents can easily buy beer across the Nebraska state line.

    The population is highly transient. Young people who joined gangs in cities bring gang culture to the reservation. Others learn the gang lifestyle in prison.

    Last July, Mousseau responded to reports of gunfire in a house. Mousseau was questioning a girl when someone inside the building opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle.


    "The girl was hit and a bullet grazed my ear, Mousseau recalled. "I took cover in the weeds and pulled the girl to safety. I called for backup but the guy was still shooting. It was dark but I fired back in the direction of his muzzle flashes. I hit him and he died on the scene. He had fired 30 rounds."

    The girl survived. The dead man, a known gang member, had been drunk as well as high on drugs.

    Mousseau believes he was the target of an organized hit because he was interfering with gang operations. He had to move himself and his family out of town for a time after receiving death threats from other gang members.

    Residents of South Dakota's reservations are among the poorest in the nation. Unemployment hovers around the 80 percent mark. Of those employed, 96 percent live below the poverty line and alcoholism is rife. Apart from school athletic teams, there are few organized youth activities.

    Young people in the reservation are in deep crisis, said Bryan Brewer, principle of the Pine Ridge High School.

    "About 50 percent of our students drop out, mostly in the first two years of high school," Brewer said. "We don't know where they go. They just stop coming. Of the kids who enroll, only one percent graduate college."

    Gang members constantly deface the school with graffiti. They bring guns and deal drugs on school grounds. They sometimes make homemade weapons in the school metal workshop. Three years ago, scores of rival gang members fought a violent battle in a school corridor.

    Brewer once asked a couple of gang members how many students were members of the Trey Trey gang. "They told me over half of our students were in that one gang alone," he said.


    Indian gangs mimic the behavior of black and Hispanic inner-city gangs -- the colors, the dress, the violent initiation ceremonies, the hand signals, the graffiti, the tattoos. But they have developed one wrinkle of their own, said Captain Christopher Grant, chief of detectives in Rapid City, South Dakota, who is an expert on the subject.

    "They will burn and brand designs into their arms and bodies, such as pitchforks or other gang symbols. They will heat a knife or a metal clothes hanger until it is red hot and then press it to their flesh and leave it to fester so it makes a big vivid scar that announces their involvement in the gang subculture.

    "Sometimes, they just slash themselves with knives to create markings that depict their gang involvement, and oftentimes both the burning and cutting become a rite of passage for the young people who choose this path," he said.

    Chris Eagle Hawk, a police human resources officer on the reservation who would like to revive Indian cultural awareness, said young people have no sense of their own identity or culture and look for something to fill the gap.

    "They need to belong somewhere, to be part of something. They don't know anything about who they are and where they come from. We have our own colors, our own songs, our own language. We even have our own signs," he said.

    Despite the problems, police officers said it was difficult to persuade parents and some members of the tribal leadership of the gravity of the situation.

    One day this month, Mousseau and several other police officers went to the village of Wounded Knee, site of a notorious massacre of Indian men, women and children by U.S. troops in 1890. The police had invited members of the community to a question-and-answer session about gangs.

    Only three people showed up.

  • #2
    Dude, thas' messed up. What's your answer?


    • #3
      Well whites think that more money can always solve everything. It can help having a better economic situation there but there are gangs in nice white neighborhoods.

      the truth is that those kids are filling the void of weak families, weak spiritual life and no hope. The spiritual leaders are more concerned about wannnabees than reaching out to their own people.

      We need spiritual leaders who lead lives that are pure and uncorrupt and the beautiful lakota nation be restored back to the Creator. Tribal leaders who are above the bickering and politics.


      • #4
        Damn thats messed up. Those spiritual leaders should be much more concerned with their own wannabes. Those that want to be black or hispanic gangsters. What a sad situation.
        "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."


        • #5
          Gangs stem mostly from impoverished conditions. Kids who want to belong, the older 'leaders' who make them feel welcome, the kids who have nothing else to do, the kids who go along with the group, etc.

          Been there, done that. Not that I was a blood or a crip, but we had our own little gang thing going on. Wearing matching stuff, names, acting tough, petty theft, roughing up younger kids. My reason...I was one of the younger kids that got roughed up once and I( was also going along with my childhood friends. There was Rick-ski, Ali-Al, Robbob and Mic-D. Other "gangs" included people named Onyx, Spookadeen, Chooch, Badas, etc.

          Am I now? No. Why, I knew it was stupid and that I was better than that. If a kid cant figure it out himself he needs someone to do it for him. I was lucky enough to have a mind and "see the light" for lack of a better term. I was in poverty but not as deep as these kids, so they will need a little more enlightenment.
          There are 2 types of people in the world...
          Really stupid people who think they are smart
          Really smart people who think they are smart.


          • #6
            the truth is that those kids are filling the void of weak families, weak spiritual life and no hope. The spiritual leaders are more concerned about wannnabees than reaching out to their own people.
            Gache, you are so right! I think the greatest weakness though is the family unit. So many of our youth are raised by grandmothers. I wonder how many gang members come from a two parent home where the father is a involved parent. We need both role models in the home where children see the respect and honor that spouses have for one another, where both parents see to the responsibilities of raising children.

            Having no hope breaks my heart! Suicide amongst our native youth is extremely high.
            We are always being told the youth are our future and yet our nations are failing them!


            • #7

              The original article states that "Indian gangs mimic the behavior on inner-city gangs."

              Why is this such a shock?

              Indian people evolve with the rest of the world. We listen to rap music, wear gangsta clothing and even name our powwow songs after gansta themes.

              Pine Ridge is only one reservation with Indian gangs.

              According members of the Salt River Indian Community (whose reservation borders Phoenix/Scottsdale AZ.), tribal members have affiliations in approximately 32 area gangs.

              In Tulsa, OK, the gang "Indian Empire aka. IE" is one of the largest gangs in the metropolitan area.

              Gangs will come and go as Indian people keep up with the times.
              Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


              • #8

                gangs are for itty bitty weenies with no brains
                Friends dont let friends take home ugly Men. :huddle:

                :indian1: THE DARKER THE FLESH THEN THE DEEPER THE ROOTS :indian1:


                • #9
                  Gangs at Pine Ridge


                  That is really sad to hear, I know gangs are on the Rez but I didn't know it was that bad...

                  So now we have our future killing each other....
                  I never ever thought I'd see that day when Ndn youth would kill
                  and pimp each other jus cause.....



                  • #10
                    Yeah its sad that theres more comments about Lord of the Rings but hardly anything about this.

                    Well we are a dying race might as well give up huh. After all hardly anyone can speak their language anymore. Most of the young act like black wannabees. There isnt any respect anymore or native worldview. I hope the government starts terminating tribes because there is too many fake ones now. Just a bunch of brown skin white people faking their indian to get benefits.


                    • #11
                      I think this has to do with the desolation which inevitably leads to desperation. I mean, I feel for the members of the community who are negatively effected by gang's actions, but is this really and uncontrollable situation or a product of negligence?

                      The article states that besides ONE school team, there are no other organized activities for youth. Not that is justifies anything, but what else are they supposed to do? Being in a gang probably gives them a false impression of belonging or even accomplishment.

                      I know that gangs are prevalent in mega urban centres, but in our society (Native teachings) we are supposed to guide and take care of our children; this shouldn't be happening on the reserve. The million dollar question: what can we do?
                      Got percap?


                      • #12

                        I know of one young man who was involved in a gang and had tatooa around the eyes and his mind was that of always on drugs he seemed to be high all the time he just could not focus until a group of traditonal people took him in and completely changed his life for him i say they practicly brought him back from the dead he even talks now before he would just sit there and his eyes would be closed and sway back and forth it took a long time but he is just fine suprised the heck out of me, so some times there is hope, dont give up on people because you just might end up needing help one of theses days A-HO.


                        • #13
                          When my son was little, about 8 or so, I took him to the funeral of one of my cousins who was shot by a rival gang. He saw for himself how totally utterly lost the mother, the father, the sisters were, and the hundreds of kids who turned out for the funeral. I know that was kind of harsh, but I don't think some kids consider the effect they have on their loved ones if they were killed. We as native people cannot afford to lose even one young man to senseless violence.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Awful_Mnom_Woman
                            When my son was little, about 8 or so, I took him to the funeral of one of my cousins who was shot by a rival gang. He saw for himself how totally utterly lost the mother, the father, the sisters were, and the hundreds of kids who turned out for the funeral. I know that was kind of harsh, but I don't think some kids consider the effect they have on their loved ones if they were killed. We as native people cannot afford to lose even one young man to senseless violence.
                            Good words Phenom Mom! :)


                            • #15
                              Locally, I know of only one attempt on a neighbour rez of uniting a gang. The guy who tried to organize a gang had his butt kicked several times before he had a chance to get it together.

                              Remember that series "Moccasin Flats" that was on Canadian Aboriginal T.V.? Well, it was about gang crap in Regina. Pretty much realistic. Not a lot of laffs. A lot of gang stuff. Pimping, whoring, drug selling, murder, violence. About a kid trying to get out of that and going off to university. I don't want to ruin the plot for those who might want to see it later.

                              BTW, Kakeeya, I taped it (not a very good job- missed some parts) and thought you might want to watch it. Let me know. I'll send it to you.

                              Parents, aunties, uncles, grand-parents have to encourage the younguns to get involved with other activities as well as traditional teachings. If some parents can't afford some of the more costly sports, dancing or whatever, it's up to other family members to reach out and give a helping hand. If you can't help out financially, go to the kids game once in awhile. Cheer them on!!! Kids like that. There are so many simple things that we can do to keep kids away from a unhealthy environment. It's not up to teachers, coaches and other people who do these things.

                              It's up to us. Not Joe Schmo down the street. Not the boyscouts.
                              Us, dammit!


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