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Youth Gangs in Indian Country

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2004
16 pages
Publication Series
This report presents data regarding the presence and effect of youth gang activity in Indian country and an overview of programmatic responses to the problem.
In 2001, the National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) developed and implemented the 2000 Survey of Youth Gangs in Indian Country. All recognized Indian communities were surveyed to measure the presence, size, and criminal behavior of youth gangs in Indian country. As a result of this survey, this report describes the nature and makeup of youth gangs in Indian country and compares the findings to those from a national sample and a comparison sample. In addition, survey findings are compared to a field study of youth gang activity in the Navajo Nation. The Indian country sample included 577 Indian communities comprising 561 federally recognized tribes. Overall, 52 percent or 300 of the communities responded to the survey. Survey findings were presented in the areas of law enforcement services, youth gang activity, gangs and gang members, gang problem onset, gang member demographics, gangs in schools, gang migration, criminal involvement, influences on community gang activity, defining youth gangs, and perceptions of the youth gang problem. In general, the intensity of the gang problem and the severity of the gang members’ criminal involvement are relatively low. The majority of respondents appear to experience gang problems similar to those in less populated communities throughout the Nation. The findings suggest that the most critical concerns in Indian country communities are the social problems that contribute to youth gang involvement, not gangs themselves. Drawing on these findings, the report proposes prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies. It is important that all community agencies collaborate in combining resources to develop the most comprehensive and effective approach to combat gang problems. The study provides a detailed national assessment of gang activity in Indian country communities that can guide effective responses to the problem. Figures and references

Date Published: March 1, 2004