Lawlessness on Indian Land
Published: November 21, 2012
Violence and crime rage unchecked in Indian country, yet the federal government, the primary law enforcer on reservations, is investigating and prosecuting fewer violent felonies, and reducing financing for tribal courts and public-safety programs. That is a scandal.
Timothy Williams reported in The Times last week that from 2000 to 2010 homicides on American Indian reservations rose by 41 percent, rapes by 55 percent, and arson and robbery doubled – even as crime rates fell sharply elsewhere in the country. The Navajo reservation in the Southwest, with 180,000 people, had more reported rapes in 2009 than did Detroit, a city of more than 700,000, according to Justice Department data. Police forces on reservations, meanwhile, remain absurdly outmatched – only 30 tribal officers patrol the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, a swath of Arizona larger than Delaware. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota covers about 3,500 square miles. It has 49 tribal officers now, nine fewer than in 2000.