Monday, October 10, 2016

American Indians and the Juvenile Justice System

Below is a current event assignment I did for my Sociology Class on Juvenile Justice. I chose to find an article that focused on American Indians because I feel that we are often looked over. I decided to post this here at the tail end of Columbus Day in the hopes that some people may start to give American Indians a first look. To me, today is Indigenous Peoples Day and I hope that you will spend it's final hour and some time in your future giving the indigenous peoples of this nation some thought.
Thank you.

Main Article:
Though I am uncertain of this particular websites credentials, the article was written by Robert Winters, Juris Doctorate, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Kaplan University. It is the author's credentials which lead me to take this article, written about an often ignored subject, seriously. Though, the language may be seen as somewhat accusatory, I don’t believe that there is any bias in Winters writing. I also believe that the accusatory tone is used appropriately because so many people find it easy to ignore the plights that face modern day American Indians and the confusing judicial law that surrounds the children living on and off reservations. It is my opinion that the purpose of this writing is to bring attention to an important issue that is all too often cast aside. American Indian children are subject to a more complicated law system than other minorities because of issues surrounding a sliding scale of sovereignty. Not all tribes have the same laws or the same level of sovereignty. Where one reservation may have a tribal police force, another may have had to give up a piece of their sovereignty to give state police jurisdiction on tribal land. These nuanced issues make for a particularly worrisome run through what can be up to three judicial systems for a minor.

This is a common issue for American Indians which is not often reported on. For instance, this article is two years old, and was the most recent relevant one I could find. More media coverage might help in the sense that it could encourage more research on the subject and through that, hopefully reform. Though there are some similarities in how American Indians, Black people, and other minorities are treated once in the system, they can arrive there by completely different means. Jurisdiction with American Indians is foggy at best. There are three different jurisdictions when taking into account a child of Native descent; Tribal, State, and Federal. Depending on the crime committed a Native child could be under just one jurisdiction, or all three. As often as possible tribes try to take care of situations internally and  as stated in the article, “Native American culture historically did not use confinement as a criminal punishment. Most tribal court systems rely on restitution, community service, mental health treatment and counseling, and probation to answer juvenile crimes…”. When confinement is deemed necessary, often in cases not allowed to be handled by Tribal leaders, most reservations are ill equipped and don’t have juvenile facilities on tribal land, so the child must be held off-reservation, bringing it’s own list of complications.

As I hope I have made clear, one of the main concerns with American Indians in the juvenile justice system is that, as with American Indians as a whole, they are not a concern at all. It is not that American Indians are ignored, it’s that they are simply not thought of at all. People outside of Native populated areas are more often to think that American Indians get things for free then they are to believe that they are in need of help. I can’t say how many times I have answered the question, “You get to go to college for free, right?” But, it speaks to how blind the average person is of American Indian issues. (The answer by the way, is: No. I do not get to go to college for free. I am in debt just like everyone else.) The only way to make people more aware is speak out in situations like our class.

There is no specific case being referenced here, but as is the case of many Native children, being taken from their home is not the answer, neither is being tried as an adult or being placed in an adult facility. Moving a child from the reservation to a detention facility will only succeed in harming the child’s psyche because there are “many standards of conduct expected of them off-reservation,” and they simply are not able to understand. This is not a tale of city mouse and country mouse, this is ripping a child away from their culture and forcing them, on their life, to learn a new one.

The aims of juvenile court are most certainly not being upheld in the case of American Indian children. In these cases, it is my belief that, jurisdiction should rest solely on the Tribal leaders except in the case of violent crimes where the victim is not a tribal member or unless a treaty states otherwise. (As is the case with many reservations who have given up their right to police themselves and handed jurisdiction over to state officials). Native children need to be cared for and disciplined by their own people.

The race-conflict approach best fits this situation because is focus’ on imbalances and conflict between people of different races and cultures. In order to best understand how to make things better for Native children, we must first understand the differences in judicial systems and in culture. The way I grew up is vastly different than any of my friends. I had no idea how different my childhood was from everyone else’s, until I got off the reservation and saw how the rest of the world lives.

To point, in an ideal world millions of people wouldn’t have been slaughtered to the point of near extinction, and treaties would have been kept and followed. Since that isn’t how it happened, the best we can do now is act in the interest of the child. Keep them with their family if possible, and if not at least keep them with their people. American Indians make up only 1% of the US population and yet, “The alcohol-related death rate… stands at 17 times the national rate. Their suicide rate is triple the national average among males aged 15 to 24. Their high school dropout rate is the highest of any racial group…. in  2008 the median age of the Native American population was 28.0 years versus 35.3 years for the US population as a whole. This means these issues [juvenile arrests etc] impact a relatively larger portion of the total Native American population”. American Indians are many peoples in need of hope and support from their communities, as well as their state and federal governments, not to be further marginalized.

For more information:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hummingbirds and the Oncoming Storm

The first week of school has gone and I am no less concerned about what my last year is going to bring. I have confidence that I will make it, but I am nervous. I will say though, that I am a little less nervous than I was last week. My English teacher read a part of my assignment from last week aloud in his lecture, and that felt pretty darn cool.

This assignment was a special to me because one of the readings this week was about hummingbirds. The other reading was about the 1900 hurricane that happened in Galveston. They were both very powerful reads for me and I am happy that I got the chance to read them.

<3 Catherine *Riki

Creative Nonfiction Literature
Questions:I want you to speak to the power of language in these pieces. How it serves the story, how it conveys the drama and meanings the writers are intending. I also want you to comment on how Erik Larson, in Isaac’s Storm, can have you on the edge of your seat about an event that has already taken place. Provide examples for your answers to both questions.

I grew up on a Mono Indian reservation in California. The name I was given was Pis-coo-too, which means Hummingbird. I have always been proud to be named after the hummingbird, their beautiful red and green feathers shined at the feeders that hung along the back porch gutter at my grandparents home. Hummingbirds are a quiet storm, constantly beating their wings with a ferocious determination that I hope to emulate in my own life. I like to think of hummingbirds as tiny self-contained storms, so the similarities between the readings were easy to draw for myself. The fear that Isaac felt at the storm drawing near, the fear that hummingbird feels at their storm coming to an end. The inability to sleep for fear that the storm will consume him, and the inability to sleep for fear that the storm will not begin again. In regards to keeping me enthralled; I felt compelled to continue reading both stories. Ackerman writes of a daily phenomenon and Larson writes of a century old hurricane, in a way that feels new and exciting. Both writers show that it doesn’t matter if something has happened over a hundred years ago or yesterday, a writer’s ability is separate from time not contingent upon it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Memoir & Family Reader Response

This is my first assignment for the semester. It was surprisingly tough to write and answer the question asked instead of just writing what I wanted to say. I guess though I am used to having to write reading responses, I am not used to writing directed reading responses. I guess this makes some sense though. This is for an online English class and having everyone answer the same sort of questions in their response should make for some good discussion in the forum. I don't know. What I do know is that I need to start studying for my GRE soon if I hope to do well. Enjoy!

<3 Catherine *Riki

Creative Nonfiction Literature
Questions: Discuss how these writers use compassion, humor and language to depict the conflicts with their parents. Do they treat their mothers and fathers fairly? If so, how? Provide specific examples.

“Cherry” Mary Karr (Ch. 1)
This was a difficult read. Not because of language used, or the situation of a young woman leaving home, but because of the word, “you”. Not only did I find this an off putting way of reading a story, but I also found it to be a way to shift blame. Karr behaves in a manner where nothing is her fault. “You can’t admit to yourself that you first turned your back to him. So you invert the rejection - this distance, your scorn. They’re now his attitudes aimed at you” (10). She openly shifts blame for her feelings onto her father, her mother, and by use of the word “you,” onto the reader. I can’t honestly say that this is fair for her to do, but I can’t say it’s uncommon either.

“No Name Woman” Maxine Hong Kingston
I am emotionally exhausted and I want to know more. Kingston was raised by stories told by her mother and she listened. She listened and respected her mother’s telling of the story, but I don’t think that fairness is a part of that. Kingston listens for the missing parts. Is that fair, to listen for the parts her mother doesn’t say? Yes, she is respectful, but I saw nothing of fairness. I think she could be seen as being unfair, by trying to fill in those gaps left in the story. Yes, she is curious, but her mother likely left out parts for a reason. Kingston says that her mother does things with purpose, doesn’t that include not doing things? Is it fair for Kingston to dig for more information about her nameless aunt?

“The Girl Next Door” David Sedaris
This story broke my heart in a few ways and none of them were fair. The conflict Sedaris has with his mother is so infuriating, I wanted to jump in and shake her by the shoulders. However, Sedaris voice is clear and mostly positive when it comes to his mother. He loves her and respects her position as his mother, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t see her bad side. Brandi is right, and even his mom agrees, but she takes care of her son and he appreciates her help. I would say he treats her fairly. He lets her have her negative words and he gets to be cared for.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Beginning of the End

I really just wanted this to sound a little more dramatic than it really is. I have officially begun my final year of my undergrad. I should be happy, and excited, but I'm just scared. I'm scared about what this next step in my life is going to bring. I'm scared about how hard it's going to be. I have this hope that things will be well and good. That I'll take my GRE and get into the school that I want to and I won't have to take a year off, but I really don't know. The not knowing always kills me. I like to have a plan. I like to always know what is going to happen. Anyway, I've got to get back to my current plan, which is making the dean's list this semester. So, I'll leave you with this piece I wrote a couple semesters ago.

<3 Catherine

Not Enough 
I was on the phone with my mom yesterday and she was telling me how I would get in trouble for reading when I was suppose to be doing other things. She said that I would hide a book under my bed and pretend to be cleaning, I would hide a book in my bible at church like other kids would do with comics or magazines (I told her I bought the bible-looking Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide so I could read it in church with no one noticing, she laughed and said, "Well, I guess you got away with it,") and I would completely ignore people talking to me.

I love reading, I love everything about getting so absorbed in a book that nothing else matters. I don't need to eat, I don't need to drink, the only thing I have to do in this moment is read. If I don't find out what happens next, I will surely die.

Lately I've had the daunting task of required reading for my literature classes. I read quickly and get through the books when I don't like them, but that's all I'm doing. I'm not spending time with each page, each sentence, each word. I'm only getting through, I'm only getting by.

As a reader, this is devastating to me. The professional texts we are reading for my classes exclaim the importance of pleasure reading between required difficult reads, and I am simply not finding the time for what I *want* to read, for what I *need* to read.

If the time isn't allowed for personal reading, for pleasure reading, the reader starts to lose parts of their person. I’ve begun to feel empty. I no longer look forward to my time spend reading because it hardly engages me. Now it only makes me sad and a little heart broken. Reading is my greatest love and I'm starting to resent it.