I was riding around in a truck with a prominent former tribal council member in Fort Yukon, Alaska when he said, “The number one problem with Native people is they’re too forgiving.”
I believe he has a point. I hear of gang shootings and elders on Apache reservations dodging 55 drive-bys a year and gangs opening cartel transition points on Indian reservations, because of the sovereign immunity and it makes me sick. People openly breaking tribal laws left and right on Indian reservations, embezzlements and families taking over whole towns and driving out all other tribal members; it makes me want to yell in frustration when I think of it.
We are too forgiving and lenient on crime from our own people and non-Indians. There are murders and child molesters living free and having respectable positions in some Native villages in Alaska. I’m not for sending all our people to jail in masses, but hard action should be taken.
I believe more Native community action groups need to be formed. Small neighborhoods and church committees and even kids in tribal high schools of good heart need to begin forming. Good people of Indian country need to take a stand against criminals. Our elders need to form councils to regulate nepotism. Our tribal cops need to start making a nationwide plan on gangs. Our elders of long ago had strong work ethics and ways to unite to shame and pressure their people back into order. We need law and order in Indian country and our elders can lead; the elders who earned that title.
As my Native activist friend says, “Elders with a capitol E.”
We need to boost recruitment of tribal cops, form community patrols, form action groups, set up better tribal courts and enforce tribal laws; even tribal citizens should enforce the laws and back-up the heavily-stressed tribal police.
It’s time to take Indian country back. People are dying. The Native man in the truck, his son got beaten and his store robbed. We need to do something, please do something.
– Matt Gilbert
Arctic Village, Alaska