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Showing posts from March, 2014

A Pipeline to Prison—and Suicide—for Native Kids

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This article first appeared on Indian Country Media Network in December 2013. A new legal paper on racial disparities in juvenile justice is laced with searing narratives of wrongs suffered by Native schoolchildren on Montana’s remote and windswept reservations. Law graduate Melina Healey’s study, “The School-to-Prison Pipeline Tragedy on Montana’s American Indian Reservations,” has just appeared in the New York University Review of Law & Social Change . According to Healey (shown below), who got her NYU law degree this past May, the school-to-prison phenomenon has been well documented in poor, minority communities nationwide. Ho wever, it’s been generally ignored with respect to Montana’s reservations, where the problem is extreme . “I’m baffled by this,” she said in an interview. “It’s a staggering tragedy.” Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Project said the paper made a valuable contribution by focusing on a popu

School District Sued for Cheating Native Voters

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Plaintiffs and ACLU attorneys (photo Richard Peterson) This article first appeared on Indian Country Media Network in September 2013. T he American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Wolf Point School District, which has a predominantly Native student population, drawn from the surrounding Fort Peck Indian Reservation, in northeastern Montana. The suit argues that school board districts favor non-Native voters and should be redrawn. Wolf Point is the largest community on the reservation and has a two-part school district. The predominantly non-Native portion, with 430 residents, elects three members to the eight-member school board of trustees. The 4,205 residents of the predominantly Native American portion—nearly 10 times as many people—elect five members. That means one board member from the mostly white area represents 143 residents, while board members from the mostly Native area each represent 841 people, according to the suit, Jackson et al v. Wolf