Native lives Matter

Native lives Matter

The majority of the recent headlines about indigenous Americans have had to do with a specific  football team.

There are 567 tribes, including 229 Alaska Native communities, currently identified by the federal government. The Bureau of Indian Affairs – the main federal agency in charge of {relations|relationships} with indigenous communities– is also considering increasing federal status to Native Hawaiians.

Each of the federally known tribes is a nation unto itself – sovereign, self-determining and self-governing — that maintains a government-to-government relationship with the United States. In addition , the rights of all indigenous individuals, including Native Hawaiians, have already been affirmed in a 2007 United Nations declaration. Each indigenous nation has a distinct history, language and culture. While many encounter concerns that are particular to their government, state, or region, there are certain issues that have an effect on all Native communities through the entire United States – from The Hawaiian islands to Maine, and Alaska to Florida.

Thanks in large part to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has was adamant that demands for proper rights and equality for the black community remain part of the nationwide conversation, there is now growing energy to address the issues of policing and mass incarceration. While the brutalization of black Americans at the hands of police, and their maltreatment within the criminal justice program, have garnered national head lines, similar injustices against Natives have gone largely unreported.

Previously this month, Paul Castaway, a mentally ill Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen, was taken and killed by Denver Colorado police. His death resulted in protests in the Denver Indigenous community, and has reveal the shocking rate where police kill Native Americans — who account for less than 1% of the national population, yet who make up nearly two percent of all police killings, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Native peoples are also disproportionately affected by mass incarceration. In states with significant Native populations, Natives are wildly overrepresented inside the criminal justice system. In South Dakota, for example , Natives make up 9 percent from the total population, but twenty nine percent of the prison populace. In Alaska, Native peoples take into account 15 percent of the total population and 38 percent of the prison population. And Native Hawaiians are only 10 % of the state’s population, although 39 percent of the incarcerated population.

The issue of mass incarceration in Native communities can be complicated by overlapping and unresolved conflicts between tribe, federal and state jurisdictions. If a crime is considered to have occurred on a Native booking or within a Native community, it’s not always clear which will agency is going to be in charge of criminal prosecution. That’s determined by a complex pair of factors, including the severity with the charges and the races with the victims and alleged perpetrators. The overlapping jurisdictions of federal and tribal sovereignty also mean that Indians who have commit crimes on tribe lands can be punished 2 times for the same offense: once underneath federal jurisdiction and once again in tribal court. Last but not least, aside from cases of home violence, tribal courts are generally not allowed to try major criminal activity as defined under the Key Crimes Act. This means that potential foods in most felony cases happen to be prosecuted in federal process of law, where sentencing tends to be worse.

In February, building off of the momentum of Black Lives Matter, the Lakota Peoples’ Law Project released the “Native Lives Matter“ record, which gives an overview of the inequities faced by Native Americans inside the criminal justice system. The report, like the voices of Native peoples in general, has been generally ignored in the growing nationwide conversation about policing and criminal justice reform.


2 thoughts on “Native lives Matter”

  1. Great post. My wife and I are pretty active with BLM, but I had no idea any of this was going on – very enlightening. Thanx.


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