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Native American Gangs

Native American Gang Members

I created this page after seeing that there were very few websites out there dealing with this subject and also seeing that there was very little current research on this phenomenon. One of the biggest things happening on the reservations and in urban centers where there are large Native American populations is the “gang problem. I've spoken to some tribal elders who want to downplay the problem (denial). What I have personally seen in my work is that the tribes have tried hard to instill cultural pride and teach the traditions to the youth. Many Native youth are no different than other youth in that they may rebel against the older generation. They may engage in self-destructive behaviors through street gangs. Many of these youth were exposed to gangs in big U.S. cities, thus have borrowed heavily from major groups, Sur13, Crips, Bloods, Folks, etc.

Many of the tribes have tried to bring youth back to the reservations as well as provide jobs through the growth of Indian gaming. This has been successful in many respects, but the gang affiliated youth may see a jackpot and use their money for criminal acts. Native American street gang members will visit rural communities to recruit members. There is evidence that some Native gangs are working with outlaw Biker gangs.

The person who I consider one of the best "experts" on Native-American gangs in the world is my friend and colleague Captain Christopher M. Grant. He is a 27-year law enforcement officer with the Rapid City (SD) Police Department. To contact him click here:

Recent Gang Research

One recent study that has been done by the Center for Delinquency and Crime Policy Studies at Sac State University notes the lack of such research. “The ongoing failure to mention Native American youth gangs may simply be symptomatic of the usual oversight by researchers to incorporate any discussion of Indian justice issues into the national dialogue on crime and delinquency or may speak to the relative newness and novelty of this emerging problem.”

Several past surveys are noted that had limited scope and depth. The FBI survey “Gangs on Indian Reservations” (Conway 1999) which gave a brief on 40 different reservations and the BIA Survey (Juneau 1999). 75 tribes have noted gang activities. The Navajo Gang Study conducted in 1995 states that gangs began appearing on the Rez in the early 1990’s. The study found that gang members were drawn from a highly troubled segment of youth on the reservation, often came from dysfunctional families, had lost contact with much of the native culture, were heavily involved in the use of alcohol and drugs, experienced severe problems in school, and were engaged in drug trafficking and violence on a selective basis. New CDCPS research is being looked at. For more info contact:

Statistics Released on Urban Native Youth, by Vanessa White of the New Voices News

Two out of five American Indian youth ages 13-17 in South Minneapolis are not sure they will live to be 25 years old. This is just one of the startling statistics that reveal how gangs and viollnce are affecting urban Native youth today. Other statistics reveal: 54% of 91-0 yr. olds 74% of 11-12 yr. olds and 79% of 13-17 yr. olds have had a family member shot or stabbed! 68% of 9-10 yr. olds 53% of 11-12 yr. olds and 47% of 13-17 are worried about getting shot or stabbed! 34% of 9-10 yr. olds 63% of 11-12 yr. olds and 75% of 13-17 yr. olds don’t feel they can count on the police for help… for more information contact Mike Goze at Healthy Nations (612) 879-1743

Articles on Native American Gangs

There is an increasing number of gangs appearing in many reservations in the U.S. and even in Canada. Some of these gangs have members who when incarcerated have joined prison gangs like the Manitoba Warriors and Warrior’s Society and street gangs like “Ruthless Duece” and “Native Gangster Bloods”. Many prisons do have sweat lodges and Indian Clubs which may be positive in nature or may be subject for attempts by Security Threat Groups for criminal activities. See News articles below:

“Welcome for Winnepeg Gangs” February 15, 1999 The Edmonton Journal Last June, an officer with a joint RCMP-city police unit warned that aboriginal gangs were targeting wealthy Alberta reserves to recruit new members and set up drug trafficking and prostitution operations…

Abstracted From AP 11/21/94, Tulsa, OK
"American Indian Youngsters Increasingly Joining Gangs"

Law enforcement officers and social workers say the picture is changing regarding Native American youth and involvement w/ street gangs. Max Benson, guidance counselor at Lloyd Raider Center in Sand Springs, OK, said when he first started working with youth at the juvenile detention center, "maybe three out of all the number of young people we had were Indian." "Now we have Indian kids in every unit," said Benson, a Pawnee tribal member. Police in Tulsa are also alarmed by the apparent increase in gang activity among Indian Youth. "Three years ago we didn't know of a Native American gang," said Cpl. Al Wilson, Tulsa Police. "We had Native Americans in gangs, but now we have more than one gang that is strictly Native American." Wilson says Indian gangs are similar to gangs in Los Angeles and other urban areas where membership falls along racial lines. Gang members often commit crimes in urban areas and flee to tribal land to hide, something Tribal leaders would like to see stopped. The Pawnee tribe created a gang intervention unit last spring, believed to be the first in the nation geared towards Indian gangs. The "Tribes of Oklahoma Gang Task Force", was created for educational purposes, Benson is a member. The group will speak to tribes, schools, educators; do problem assessments and help tribal police develop strategies to ID gangs. An Indian law enforcement officer, who wished to remain anonymous said 15 Indian gangs have been Identified in Oklahoma. For more info contact Steve Juneau at

Christian Science Monitor Article on Indian Gangs in Arizona

Websites on Native Gangs or Gang Prevention
Native American Youth Prevention-Intervention Links-Chariot

Return to Gang Prevention Services!

Comments or Suggestions? Do you have any personal stories? Are you seeking a good trainer on gangs? Please feel free to write to me with any comments on this site or to provide new research:

Take care out there,

Gabe Morales

Thank you for visiting this page! Please come back and visit again soon! This page was last updated 12/3/03