Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Despite the growing literature on Native American crime and delinquency, alcoholism and unemployment, and the social ills that plague both urban and reservation Indians, there is a true dearth of information on incarcerated American Indians. Yet Indians comprise disproportionately high percentages of prisoners in all state penal facilities and federal prisons as well. Several factors account for this dearth. First, conducting sociological or anthropological research among incarcerated individuals certainly poses challenges. Second, the presumption that Native Americans prefer not to be studied or analyzed may deter some from considering research on such topics. Third, there is so little literature on the subject of American Indian prisoners that even the scholarly community may not be aware that this is an important phenomenon whose enormous impact on the Indian community warrants intense study.