Part 1- The History
European immigrants have long been credited with sailing the ocean blue and risking their lives for the benefit of ours to explore the 'unknown'. According to text books, during these travels, Europeans or 'white man' discovered and civilized the United States of America.
Americans learn the history of these European explorers in elementary school and the United States celebrates Federal Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Columbus day. When Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies (Caribbean), thinking he made land fall in India he began calling its many inhabitants 'Indians'. The term 'Indian' lasted for centuries and until very recently, when modern society changed the name to Native Americans. A much better fitting name.
American schools teach of Native Americans as well, only the part about them being pushed, almost to extinction seems to be lost somewhere. We learned that a long lasting war (good guys or frontier men Vs the vicious Indians or bad guys) over the land broke out but not of the horrible things done to these inherently peaceful people. Not to any sort of extent anyways.
Eventually the Native Americans were forced off their land and relocated to small reservations, today there are only a few remaining. Most Indian reservations that do remain are overridden with poverty and now face a new fierce battle, mass incarceration. Will the Native American culture survive another war on their people?
PRISON IS THE NEW EXTINCTION
Making up less than 2% of the American Population, the Native American community is almost nonexistent, thanks to that extinction plan of early American settlers and government that nearly succeeded. For a very long time, no one seemed to be paying attention to how the Native Americans were being treated, then came the liberals and Human Rights activists. Because of the newer laws and restrictions, racist politicians have had to become much more crafty, and by that, I mean abuse their power.
“Living in South Dakota is a very different experience for white people than it is for Indians,” says Jennifer Ring, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Dakotas. “Discrimination against Indians here is a longstanding, dirty little secret.” http://www.progressive.org/mag_pember0207
In South Dakota where many reservations remain today and the 'The Yankton 4' case is based, they can't give an exact number of Native American residents because The Census Bureau groups "American Indian" and "Alaska Native" in one category. However, both of these groups combined only equals 8.9% of the South Dakota population. While Native Americans only make up a very small amount of the South Dakota population they make up a HUGE 29% of the adult prison population and 38% of juvenile offenders as of 2011.
The Native American Prison population can only be compared to that of the African American, it is overwhelmingly obvious that something is very wrong in both of these scenarios. Both communities are suffering because of the lack of men (fathers) in their community and it has had a crippling effect on the growth of their children and future. The vicious cycle.
Mass Incarceration- Social Causes and Consequences
"I think every family on this reservation has (a family member) in prison," Rose Bear Robe, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, told CNN. "It's beginning to be normal now, when people used to be ashamed of it."
"In states where Native Americans are a significant portion of the state population, we see generally very significant disparity in (incarceration rates)," said Mark Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization which pushes for prison reform in the U.S. "Native Americans tend to be incarcerated at high rates overall."
"Someone will leave the reservation, go to town, get drunk, do something dumb and if a white kid had done it, they'd call their parents and take them home," he said. "But if its some strange native kid, they'll put them in jail."
"Looking back at the numbers, why is there this disparity? It's not objectively clear. While their prison rates sometimes mirror similar state figures for African-Americans, Native Americans make up such a small percentage of the national population (fewer than 2%, according to the Census Bureau) that there are few or no studies that offer an explanation for, or even an estimate of, their overall imprisonment rate."
Part 2- The Case
"The Rouse Family case is nothing less than the symbolic representation of the continuation of the racial genocide against Native Americans."