Action Research on Youth Gangs in Indian Country: Profiling the Problem and Seeking Solutions

Barbara Mendenhall, California State University - Sacramento
Troy Armstrong, California State University - Sacramento

An intensified focus by the U.S. Department of Justice on issues of crime and delinquency in Indian country from a research perspective has been emerging over the past several years. OJDP has taken a lead role in these activities. Following a multi-year study in which the authors of this paper led the effort to compile a profile of youth gangs and their activities on the Navajo reservation, a new project has been awarded by OJJDP to study youth gangs across a numer of settings in Indian Country, including reservations and metropolitan areas. This paper will focus on preliminary activities and results in that effort. Data collected through a combination of in-depth survey and ethnographic observation and targeting both gang members and communitiy stakeholders will allow a determination of tribal-specific as well as broad-based generalized factors and characteristics shaping origins, organization and activities of Native Americans youth involved in gangs on a number of reservations and in selected urban areas. This research effort will also ascertain those solutions that are being tried in the research sites as well as programmatic recommendations generated by the community-based respondents.

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Updated 05/20/2006